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It has been called the Scrofula Plant, on account of its value in all cutaneous eruptions, abscesses, wounds, etc., the name of the genus being derived from that of the disease for which it was formerly considered a specific.
It has diuretic and anodyne properties.
The whole herb is used, collected in June and July and dried. A decoction is made of it for external use and the fresh leaves are also made into an ointment.
Of the different kinds of Figwort used, this species is most employed, principally as a fomentation for sprains, swellings, inflammations, wounds and diseased parts, especially in scrofulous sores and gangrene.
The leaves simply bruised are employed by the peasantry in some districts as an application to burns and swellings.
The Welsh so highly esteem the plant that they call it Deilen Ddu ('good leaf'). In Ireland, it is known as Rose Noble and as Kernelwort. Gerard tells us, referring to what he evidently considered an exaggerated estimate of its worth: 'Divers do rashly teach that if it be hanged about the necke or else carried about one, it keepeth a man in health.'
The herb was said to be curative of hydrophobia, by taking
'every morning while fasting a slice of bread and butter on which the powdered knots of the roots had been spread and eating it up with two tumblers of fresh spring water. Then let the patient be well clad in woollen garments and made to take a long, fast walk until in a profuse perspiration, the treatment being continued for seven days.'
A decoction of the herb has been successfully used as a cure for the scab in swine. Cattle, as a rule, will refuse to eat the leaves, as they are bitter, acrid and nauseating, producing purging and vomiting if chewed.