This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Scordium Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. C. B. Chamaedrys palustris & trifago paluftris quibufdam. Teucrium Scordium Linn. Water-germander: a trailing plant, with oblong, oval, indented, soft hoary leaves, set in pairs, without pedicles: in their bosoms iffue purplish monopetalous flowers, not above four or five together, each cut into five segments and followed by four small seeds lodged in the cup. It is sometimes found wild in watery places, but the shops are supplied chiefly from gardens: it is perennial, and flowers in June.
The leaves of scordium, rubbed betwixt the fingers, yield a moderately strong smell, some-what of the garlic kind: to the taste they disco-ver a considerable bitterness and some pungency; but the astringent power, which some ascribe to them, could not be distinguished, either by the taste, or by solution of chalybeate vitriol. They are recommended as alexiphar-macs and corroborants, in malignant and putrid disorders, and in laxities of the intestines: they enter several officinal compositions in those intentions, and are sometimes employed externally in antiseptic cataplasms and fomentations.
On keeping the dry herb for some months, its smell is dissipated; and the bitterness, thus divested of the flavouring matter, proves consi-derably less ungrateful than at first. The leaves, moderately and newly dried, give out their smell and taste both to water and to rectified spirit; and tinge the former of a brownish, the latter of a deep green colour. In distillation, their peculiar flavour arises with water; but the impregnation of the distilled fluid is not strong, nor could any essential oil be obtained on submitting to the operation several pounds of the herb: the remaining decoction, infpiffated, leaves a very bitter mucilaginous extract. Rectified fpirit brings over little or nothing: the infpiffated extract partakes in a considerable degree of the flavour of the scordium, and proves in bitterness also far stronger than the watery.