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Medicinal Use of Flowers

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by jenkingish, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. jenkingish

    jenkingish Corporal

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    It's spring and I have been busy in my flower gardens, digging, dividing and feeding for the blooms to come. Every spring, I apply a nice composted fertilizer to my delphiniums and ran into some problems, a quick research project later and I found out that some Civil War soldiers used the seeds from delphinium plants to help kill head lice. I thought this was pretty interesting.

    [​IMG]Delphinium.

    So I dug a litte deeper and found that the Calendula plant was also used to help stop bleeding and bind wounds. Also known as marigolds, the medicinal properites helped to halt the spread of infection.
    [​IMG]Calendula

    Although, I'm not especially fond of St. John's Wort it too has medicinal value and was used for the treatment of the wounds as well.

    [​IMG] St. John's Wort

    Aside from the poppy and the opiate derivatives from the flower, does anyone else have any other information about flowers being used for battlefield treatment or illness?
     

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  3. pamc153PA

    pamc153PA 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    I too like to garden with herbs, have for years, and use some of the ones I grow in the same way they've been used medicinally for in some cases hundreds of years.

    Rosemary was used to fight infection, in a tea form, for things like coughs and that. Feverfew was used for migraine headaches, in a tea form; I have tried this, but never with great success. Calendula (pot marigold) was also used for salves and lotions to sooth, besides what you mentioned about binding wounds. Mint tea was used to calm one's nerves or one's stomach; chewing mint leaves cleansed breath, as well as parsley did. Lemon balm was used this way as well, and bergamot (all are in the mint family). Bergamot (bee balm) makes a nice tea.

    Those are just a few off the top of my head!
     
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  4. jenkingish

    jenkingish Corporal

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    I should mention- when working with my delphiniums I always wear gloves since the seeds and leaves of the delphinium are very toxic. In no way am I advocating using the plant now for head lice infestations.
     
  5. dvrmte

    dvrmte Major

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    Well here's another for head lice.

    Pyrethrum refers to several Old World plants of the genus Chrysanthemum (e.g., C. coccineum) which are cultivated as ornamentals for their showy flower heads. Pyrethrum is also the name of a natural insecticide made from the dried flower heads of C. cinerariifolium and C. coccineum.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. James B White

    James B White 1st Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner Member of the Month

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    If one defines flowers as "things that bloom," the topic is overwhelming. Even narrowing it down to flowers that might also be grown in a garden, it's pretty large.

    For allopathic doctors, the U.S. Dispensatory would be the standard work. The 1849 edition is online here; there may be editions closer to the war online elsewhere as well. Search for the flower's Latin name within the book to find a discussion of its medicinal uses.

    Francis Peyre Porcher is fairly well recognized as a good starting point for indigenous southern medical substitutes, most of which would be flowering plants. His 1863 work is online here.

    Then one can get into the various medical offshoots, like the eclectics, homeopaths, etc. As an example, an 1852 eclectic dispensatory is here. Eclectics would tend to use more indigenous flowering plants, since they used medicines from a variety of sources, anything which appeared to work, including the old root doctors, Thomsonians, etc.

    As far as the actual military supply table, which wouldn't vary too much north or south, there's a good copy here, in Latin as it originally appeared, but one can use the dispensatory or just google to see which were flowers. In a quick glance, I see licorice, which has little white flowers I think, autumn crocus or colchicum, peppermint, monkshood (aconite), etc. Not sure exactly which species or varieties of the plants would be most commonly used as the medicines, but the Dispensatory would give more information.
     
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  7. dvrmte

    dvrmte Major

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    http://www.wildflowerinformation.org/medicinalwildflowers.asp

    Many more in the link.

     
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  8. Robtweb1

    Robtweb1 2nd Lieutenant Retired Moderator Civil War Photo Contest
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