Balm, herb you know better

balm3Melissa officinalis. (Family: Lamiaceae)

This herb is so well known to be an inhabitant almost in every garden, that I shall not need to write any description thereof, although its virtues, which are many, may not be omitted.

Government and virtues.

It is an herb of Jupiter, and under Cancer, and strengthens nature much in all its actions. Let a syrup made with the juice of it and sugar (as you shall be taught at the latter end of this book) he kept in every gentlewoman’s house to relieve the weak stomachs and Sick bodies of their poor sickly neighbours; as also the herb kept dry in the house, that so with other convenient simples, you may make it into an balm2electuary with honey, according as the disease is you shall be taught at the latter end of my hook. The Arabian physicians have extolled the virtues thereof to the skies: although the Greeks thought it not worth mentioning. Seraphio says, it causes the mind and heart to become merry, and revives the heart, faintings and swoonings, especially of such who are overtaken in sleep, and drives away all troublesome cares and thoughts out of the mind, arising from melancholy or black choler; which Avicen also confirms. It is very good to help digestion, and open obstructions of the brain, and hath so much purging quality in it (saith Avicen) as to expel those melancholy vapours from the spirits balm1and blood which are in the heart and arteries, although it cannot do so in other parts of the body. Dioscorides says, That the leaves steeped in wine and the wine drank, and the ‘leaves externally applied, is a remedy against the stings of a scorpion, and the bitings of mad dogs; and commends the decoction thereof for women to bathe or sit in to procure their courses; it is good to wash aching teeth therewith, and profitable for those that have the bloody-flux. The leaves also, with a little nitre taken in drink, are good against the surfeit of mushrooms, helps the griping pains of the belly; and being made into a electuary, it is good for them that cannot fetch their breath: Used with stilt, it takes away wens, kernels, or hard swellings in the flesh or throat; it cleanses foul sores, and eases pains of the gout. It is good for the liver and spleen. A tansy or candle made with eggs, and juice thereof while it it is young, putting to it some sugar and rosewater, is good for a woman in child-bed, when the after-birth is not toroughly voided, and for their faintings upon or in their sore travail. The herb bruised and boiled in a little wine and oil, and laid warm on a boil, will ripen it, and break it.

CulpeperNicholas Culpeper


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