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Description. Common or wood betony hath many leaves rising from the root, which are somewhat broad and round at the end, roundly dented about the edges, standing upon long foot-stalks, from among which arise up small, square, slender, but upright hairy stalks with some leaves thereon to a piece at the joints, smaller than the lower, whereon are set several spiked heads of flowers like lavender, but thicker and shorter, for the most part, and of a reddish or purple colour, spotted with white spots both in the upper and lower part. The seeds being contained within the husks that hold the flowers, are blackish, somewhat long and uneven. The roots are many white thready strings: the stalk perishes but the roots with some leaves thereon, abide all the winter. The whole plant is something small.

Place. It groweth frequently in woods, and delighteth in shady places.

Time. And it flowereth in July; after which the seed is quickly ripe, yet in its prime in May.

Government and virtues. The herb is appropriated to the planet Jupiter, and the sign arises. Antonius Musa, physician to the Emperor Augustus Cæsar, wrote a peculiar book of the virtues of this herb; and among other virtues saith of it, that it preserveth the liver and bodies of men from the danger of epidemical diseases, and from witchcraft also; it helpeth those that loath and cannot digest their meat, those that have weak stomachs and sour belchings, or continual rising in their stomach, using it familiarly either green or dry; either the herb, or roots or the flowers, in broth, drink, or meat, or made into conserve, syrup, water, electuary, or powder, as every one may best frame themselves unto, or as the time and season requireth; taken any of the aforesaid ways, it helpeth the jaundice, falling sickness, the palsy, convulsions, or shrinking of the sinews, the gout and those that are inclined to dropsy, those that have continual pains in their heads, although it turn to phrensy. The powder mixed with pure honey, is no less available for all sorts of coughs or colds, wheesing, or shortness of breath, distillations of thin rheum upon the lungs, which causeth consumptions. The decoction made with mead, and a little penny-royal is good for those that are troubled with putrid agues, whether quotidian, tertian, or quartan, and to draw down and evacuate the blood, and humours, that by falling into the eyes, do hinder the sight; the decoction thereof made in wine and taken, killeth the worms in the belly, openeth obstructions both of the spleen and liver; cureth stitches, and pains in the back and sides, the torments and griping pains in the bowels, and the wind colic; and mixed with honey, purgeth the belly, helpeth to bring down women's courses, and is of special use to those that are troubled with the falling down of the mother, and pains thereof, and causes an easy and speedy delivery of women in child-birth. It helpeth also to break and expel the stone, either in the bladder or kidneys. The decoction with wine gargled in the mouth, easeth the tooth-ach. It is commended against the stinging and biting of venomous serpents, or mad dogs, being used inwardly and applied outwardly to the place. A drachm of the powder of betony taken with a little honey in some vinegar, doth wonderfully refresh those that are overwearied by travail. It stayeth bleeding at the mouth or nose, and helpeth those that piss or spit blood, and those that are bursten or have a rupture, and is good for such as are bruised by any fall or otherwise the green herb bruised, or the juice applied to any inward hurt, or outward green wound in the head or body, will quickly heal and close it up; as also any veins or sinews that are cut, and will draw forth any broken bone or splinter, thorn or other things got into the flesh. It is no less profitable for old sores or filthy ulcers, yea, though they be fistulous and hollow. But some do advise to put a little salt to this purpose; being applied with a little hog's lard, it helpeth a plague or sore, and other boils and pushes. The fumes of the decoction while it is warm, received by a funnel into the ears, easeth the pain of them, destroyeth the worms and cureth the running sore in them. The juice dropped into them doth the same. The root of betony is displeasing both to the taste and stomach, whereas the leaves and flowers, by their sweet and spicy taste, are comfortable both to meat and medicine.

There are some of the many virtues Anthony Musa, an expert physician (for it was not the practice of Octavius Cesar to keep fools about him), appropriates to betony: it is a very precious herb, that is certain, and most fitting to be kept in a man's house, both in syrup, conserve, oil, ointment and plaister; The flowers are usually conserved.

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