(From cochleare, a spoon; because its leaves are like the bowl of a spoon). Scurvy grass, a low plant, with thick juicy leaves, somewhat hollowed, so as to resemble a spoon: those from the root standing on long pedicles; those on the stalk joined close to it without pedicles; producing toward the upper parts of the stalks small white tetrapetalous flowers, followed by roundish seed vessels. It is annual, grows wild in several parts of England, particularly about the sea coasts and salt marshes, and flowers in May, or sooner. In Greenland, and some other northern parts, it is mild and totally destitute of pungency, and yet as effectual as that which grows with us, when eaten for the same purposes: it is the cochlearia officinalis Lin. Sp. Pi. 903. The common or garden scurvy grass. A variety of this is the cochlearia officinalis minor, rotundo folio. Small leaved scurvy Grass.
Cochlearia Batavia, called also cochlearia hor-tensis, vel rotundifolia; round leaved, dutch, or garden scurvy grass. The radical leaves are unevenly roundish, those on the stalks oblong. It is cultivated in gardens, and is probably also a variety, though it is said not to change its qualities with the soil.
Cochlearia Britannica, called also cochlearia marina, cochl. folio sinuato. English or sea scurvy grass. It is the cochlearia anglica Lin. Sp. Pi. 903. All its leaves are alike, oblong, pointed, deeply irregularly indented and sinuated.
The fresh leaves of all these plants have a disagreeable smell, and a penetrating acid taste: the first is by much the strongest. The leaves are the strongest part of the plant: they are antiseptic, attenuant, aperient, and diuretic; supposed to open obstructions of the viscera and remoter glands, without heating or irritating. They have long been considered as the most effectual antiscorbutic plants. Sydenham and Lewis re-eommend the first species highly, combined with arum and wood sorrel, in rheumatic and wandering pains, accompanied with fever. It is said to be of service also in paralytic and cachectic indispositions; but for these purposes its powers are too weak. A small quantity of nutmeg covers their disagreeable flavour.
Their active parts are wholly in the expressed juice. Water or spirit alike extracts their whole virtue. The pungent part exhales in drying, or in evaporating the liquors which contain it.
The method of preserving the herb, with all its virtues, is to beat it up with sugar into a conserve, and keep it in a close vessel. But as an antiscorbutic it is not so beneficial as the fresh plant, or the expressed juice directed in the Pharmacopoeias.
The principal virtue has been said to reside in an essential oil, separable in small quantities by distillation in water; this oil sinks in water, yet it is very volatile, subtile, and penetrating, and is carried over in distillation with rectified spirit of wine. A pint of spirit will take with it all the oil from two pounds weight of the leaves. The virtues, however, of all fresh vegetables in scurvy are so nearly the same, that it is not easy to refer them to any one principle; nor, on the whole, is any one preferable. Of equal virtue with the scurvy grass is fresh lemon juice and the tops of turnips. But this is not a place for the discussion. See Scorbutus. Lewis's Mat. Med.
Spiritus cochleariae. Take ten pounds of the leaves of fresh scurvy grass, of rectified spirit of wine live pints: macerate the herb twelve hours, and with a water bath draw off five pints. This is called simple spirit, in contradistinction to what is called golden. The dose is from twenty to a hundred drops. Horse radish may be mixed, or wholly substituted, without any sensible difference in any point of view. In this form, however, the plant is wholly inert, and the preparation is now disused.
Succus cochleariae compositus, formerly Succi scorbutici, is prepared by adding two pints of the juice of garden scurvy grass to a pint of the juice of brook lime, as much of the juice of water cresses, and twenty ounces of the juice of Seville oranges; mix them, and after the faeces have subsided, decant off the liquor, and strain. The dose, to be effectual, must be at least a pint in a day. This is antiscorbutic, gently diuretic, and slightly laxative. There is some difficulty in procuring it fine. An apothecary, who had gained the credit of preparing it very neatly, owned that the only secret was, suffering a little fermentation to begin before the juices were strained, which he had been taught by once carelessly neglecting them.
Succus cochleariae aureus. To a pint of the simple spirit of scurvy grass add an ounce of gamboge. The dose is from twenty to sixty drops, and it operates as an aperient and a stimulating diuretic, added to the virtues of the gamboge, which acts in a mild manner. All the preparations of scurvy grass are now, however, deservedly neglected. See Gambogia.
Cochlearia armoracia. See Raphanus rusti-caxus.