– Dr Sunitha Devi Vannemreddy, M D(Hom), consult the doctor at email@example.com.
Synonyms—Shepherd’s Barometer. Poor Man’s Weatherglass. Adder’s Eyes.
The Scarlet Pimpernel grows on the roadside in waste places and on the dry sandy edges of corn and other fields; it is widely distributed, not only over Britain, but throughout the world, being found in all the temperate regions in both hemispheres. A. arvensis is mentioned in lists of plants growing in Persia, Nepal, China, New Holland, Mauritius, Cape of Good Hope, Japan, Egypt, Abyssinia, U.S.A., Mexico, and Chile. It is to be found in all the temperate regions in both hemispheres, but shuns the Arctic cold and hardly bears more than the sub-tropical heat.
The Pimpernel flowers from May until late into August. The flowers appear singly, each on longish, thin stalks, springing from the junction of each leaf with the stem. The little flower-stalks are erect during flowering, but curved backward when the seed is ripening. The corolla is made up of five petals, joined together at their base into a ring. A purple spot often appears in the centre of the flower. The petals are very sensitive, the flowers closing at once if the sky becomes overcast and threatens rain. Even in bright weather, the flowers are only open for a comparatively short time – never opening until between eight and nine in the morning and shutting up before three o’clock in the afternoon. As the petals are only brilliantly coloured on their upper faces, the flowers when closed disappear from view among the greenness of the leaves.
This plant once had a great reputation in medicine, and was used as a universal panacea.
‘No heart can think, no tongue can tell
The virtues of the Pimpernel.’
Pliny speaks of its value in liver complaints, and its generic name Anagallis (given it by Dioscorides) is derived from the Greek Anagelao, signifying ‘to laugh,’ because it removes the depression that follows liver troubles.
The Greeks used it for diseases of the eye, and Gerard and Culpepper affirm that ‘it helped them that are dim-sighted,’ the juice being mixed with honey and dropped into the eyes.
Part Used-–The whole herb, gathered in the wild condition, when the leaves are at their best, in June, and used both fresh and dried.
Pimpernel has no odour, but a bitter taste, which is rather astringent.
Medicinal Action and Uses-–Diuretic, diaphoretic and expectorant. The ancient reputation of Scarlet Pimpernel has survived to the present day, especially in dealing with diseases of the brain. Doctors have considered the herb remedial in melancholy and in the allied forms of mental disease, the decoction or a tincture being employed.
John Hill (British Herbal, 1756) tells us that the whole plant, dried and powdered, is good against epilepsy, and there are well authenticated accounts of this disease being absolutely cured by it. The flowers alone have also been found useful in epilepsy, 20 grains dried being given four times a day.
It is of a cordial sudorific nature, and a strong infusion of it has been considered an excellent medicine in feverish complaints, which it relieves by promoting a gentle perspiration. It was recommended by Culpepper on this account as a preservative in pestilential and contagious diseases. The same simple preparation has also been much used among country people in the first stages of pulmonary consumption, it being stated to have often checked the disorder and prevented its fatal consequences.
The dried leaves may be given in powder, or an infusion made of the whole plant dried but according to Green (Universal Herbal, 1832) nothing equals the infusion of the fresh plant.
The expressed juice has been found serviceable in the beginnings of dropsies and in obstructions of the liver and spleen. A tincture has also been used for irritability of the urinary passages, having been found effective in cases of stone and gravel.
In Gerard’s days, a preparation of this herb, called ‘Diacorallion,’ was used for gout, and in California a fluid extract is given for rheumatism, in doses of 1 teaspoonful with water, three times a day.
Modern authorities consider that caution should be exercised in the use of this herb for dropsy, rheumatic affections, hepatic and renal complaints.
The tincture is made from the fresh leaves, in the proportion of 10 OZ. to a pint of diluted alcohol; the dose is from 1 to 5 drops. A homoeopathic tincture is also prepared from the flowers.
The powder of the dried leaves is given in 15 to 60 grain doses.
• Characterised by great TICKLING and ITCHING. Tickling and pricking in urethra; in left ear; on tip of nose; as from a brush against epiglottis. Itching of vertex and occiput; of eyelids, cheek bones.
• Favours expulsion of splinters and other foreign bodies.
• Sensation of SPLINTERS – PINS. Sensation in palm of right hand between thumb and fore finger as if a pin were thrust through. Sensation in lungs as if struck by cushion full of pins.
• Sensation as of something cold [tongue, soft palate, teeth].
• Possesses power of softening flesh and destroying warts.
• Head-Headache, just over supraorbital ridges with disordered digestion, crumbling in bowels, nausea, eructations > from coffee.
• Throat-Dryness and scraping in throat.
• Urinary system-Irritation in urethra, inclining to coition.
• Burning in urethra before and during erection > coition.
• Burning pain on urinating, with agglutination of orifice.
• FORKED STREAM of urine; must press before it passes.
• Extremities-Pain and tightness in bend of left knee.
• Rheumatic and gouty pains.
• Ulcers and swelling on joints.
• Skin-Dry, bran-like tetters in rings, especially on PALMS of HANDS and between FINGERS.
• Groups of small vesicles, smarting and itching, oozing a yellow-brown lymph when scratched, which soon turns into a scurf; new vesicles appear beneath.
• Itching < after meals.
• ITCHING OF PALMS OF HANDS > RUBBING.
• Brain-like, ring shaped tetters on face.
• Skin itches all over; becomes dry and rough.
• Skin of hands dry, sticky, dirty looking.