This section is from the book "Meals Medicinal", by W. T. Fernie. Also available from Amazon: Meals Medicinal: With "Herbal Simples" Curative Foods From the Cook in Place of Drugs From the Chemist.
It is useful, and pleasant, to know that for sound physical reasons a moderate supper of bread and butter, with crisp, fresh lettuces (perhaps also a spring onion or two), and light, homebrewed ale made with Hops, is admirably calculated to promote-healthy sleep (except for a full-blooded, plethoric person, who-should fare otherwise).
In Norfolk scarcely a cottage garden can be found without its Horehound corner, and Horehound beer is commonly drunk there by the natives. Again, Candied Horehound is a sweetmeat made by our confectioners from the fresh plant, by boiling it down until the juice is extracted, and then adding sugar before boiling this again till it has become thick enough of consistence to be poured into a paper case, and to be cut into squares when sufficiently cool. The plant White Horehound (Marrubium) is found growing in waste places, or is cultivated in the herb garden, being of popular use for coughs, and colds. It has a musky odour, and a bitter taste, affording chemically a fragrant volatile oil, a bitter extractive, "marrubin," and gallic acid. Its preparations are specially useful for coughs accompanied with copious thick phlegm; also for chronic bronchial asthma. Gerarde has said: "Syrup made from the greene, fresh leaves, with sugar, is a most singular remedy against the cough, and wheezing of the lungs.
It doth wonderfully, and above credit, ease such as have been long sicke of any consumption of the lungs, as hath been often proved by the learned physicians of •our London College".
"Just within recent times," according to Albert Broadbent, "our garden plant, familiar particularly to all lovers of the National Roast Beef, - Horse Radish (Cochlearia armoracia) - has come to deserve specially well from the British public".
For making Gill tea, which is popular in rural districts against a cough of long standing, the common and very familiar little herb, Ground Ivy (Nepeta glechoma) deserves notice from a culinary point of view. It is endowed also with singular curative virtues against nervous headaches, and for the relief of chronic bronchitis. "Medicamentum hoc non satis potest laudari: si res ex usu cestimarentur, auro cequiparandum est." The small Ivy-like aromatic leaves, and the striking whorls of dark blue blossoms which characterize this fragrant plant are conspicuous in early springtime about the bottom of almost every hedgerow throughout our country. It is gifted with a balsamic odour due to its particular volatile oil, and its special resin. For making a tea of this Ground Ivy: one ounce of the bruised fresh herb should be infused in a pint of boiling water, and a wineglassful thereof, when cool, should be taken three, or four times in the day. The whole plant was employed by our Saxon progenitors for clarifying their so-called beer, before hops had been introduced for this purpose.
The Ground Ivy thus acquired its allied titles "Ale-hoof," and "Tun-hoof." Other names which it commonly bears are "Gill go by the ground," "Haymaids," "Catsfoot," and "Lizzy run up the hedge." Gill tea, as brewed by country persons, is sweetened with honey, sugar, or liquorice. The expressed juice of the herb is usefully astringent against bleedings. "Boiled in mutton broth," says Gerarde. "it helpeth weak, and aching backs." Dr. Pitcairn extolled this plant before all other vegetable medicines for curing consumptive diseases of the lungs.
In the Organic Materia Medica, of Detroit, U.S.A., 1890, it is stated "Painters use the Ground Ivy as a preventive of, and remedy for lead colic. A wineglassful of the freshly made infusion, or tea, is to be given repeatedly." Said Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, in his farewell address to the medical students at Boston College, "there is no form of lead poisoning which more rapidly, and more thoroughly pervades the blood, bones, and marrow than that which reaches the young author through mental contact with type-metal. 'Qui a bu boirra,' 'He who has once drunk will drink again,' tells a French proverb. So, the man, or the woman who has tasted type is sure to resume the seductive indulgence, sooner or later. In my early college days, a students' periodical, conducted by some undergraduate friends of mine, tempted me into print. Such was my first attack of author's lead-poisoning, and I have never quite got rid of it from that day to this." A snuff made from the dried leaves of the Ground Ivy will render marked relief against a dull congestive headache of the passive kind. Succus hujus plantce naribus attractus ccphalalgiam etiam vehementissimam et inveteratam non lenit tantum, sed et penitus aufert.
The herb remaineth green, not only in summer, but also in winter, at all times of the year.
In earlier English days the herb Lavender was used, and deservedly, as a rare condiment of cordial virtues, and welcome aroma for flavouring dishes, and comforting the stomach; but at present its domestic service is solely for fragrance, and for scenting the household linen. Nevertheless, Lavender water as a spirit comes into handy appliance for a restorative against faintness, palpitations, or spasms. It proves refreshing to the sense of smell, and. if taken as a speedy stimulant, dispels flatulence whilst reviving the spirits. The sweet-smelling shrub is grown largely for market purposes in Surrey, Hertfordshire, and Lincoln, affording its essential oil from the flowering tops. These "spikes" of Lavender contain tannin, and a resinous camphor. Ordinarily the Lavender water of commerce is a misleading compound of various scents. During the twelfth century a washerwoman was ordinarily known in the north as a Lavenderess, whence comes our name Laundress. "I'll now lead you," ays Piscator, in Walton's Compleat Angler (1653), "to an honest ale-house, where we shall find a cleanly room, Lavender in the window, and twenty ballads stuck about the wall." Again, "a match, good master! let's go to that house, for the linen looks white, and smells of Lavender: and I long to be in a pair of sheets that smell so." This tavern was probably the "Angler's Inn," near Hoddesdon, Herts, called then the "Rye House".