This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Herb-Mercury: a plant with oblong, acuminated, indented leaves, (landing in pairs: in their bosoms come forth, either spikes of imperfect flowers, set in three-leaved cups, falling off without any seeds; or little rough balls, joined two together, including each a single seed.
1. Mercurialis testiculata five mas, & mercurialis fpicata five femina dioscoridis & plinii C. B. Mercurialis annua Linn. French mercury: with smooth glossy leaves, and branched (talks. The flowering plants, called female, and those which produce seeds, called male, are both annual, and grow wild together in shady uncultivated grounds.
The leaves of this plant have no remarkable smell, and very little taste: when freed by exsic-cation from the aqueous moisture, with which they abound, their prevailing principle appears to be of the mucilaginous kind, with a small admixture of saline matter. They are ranked among the emollient oleraceous herbs, and said to gently loosen the belly: their principal use has been in glysters.
Aq. menthae piperit. Ph. Lond. & Ed.
Aq. menthae piperit. spi-rituosa Ph. Ed.
Spir. menthae piper. Ph. Lond.
2. Cynocrambe: Mercurialis montana testi-culta & spicata C. B. Mercurialis perennis Linn. Dogs mercury, male and female: with rough leaves and unbranched stalks. It is perennial, and grows wild in woods and hedges.
This species has been said by some to be similar in quality to the foregoing, and to be more acceptable to the palate as an oleraceous herb: it has lately however been found to be possessed of noxious qualities, acting as a virulent narcotic. An instance is related in N°. 203 of the Philosophical Transactions, of its ill effects on a family, who eat at supper the herb boiled and fried: the children, who were most affected by it, vomited, purged, and fell fast asleep: two slept about twenty-four hours, then vomited and purged again, and recovered: the other could not be waked for four days, and then opened her eyes and expired.