By Dr. E. Fornias.
In the Revue Homoeopathique Francaise, for February, 1998, we find an interesting article on the common Creeping Mouseear (Spa., Pilosela o’ vellosilla; Fch., Oredle de souris; Ger., Habichts kraut). It belongs to the Hieracium, gender of the liqueliform, herbaceous Tynanthae, one of the richest in species. ‘ The name Hieracium is derived from the Greek, and signifies hawk, because this bird of prey, according to Pliny, as soon as its sight flags never fails to recover its sharpness to rub its eyes with the juice of this herb; or, more probable, because in former times the young hawks, trained for the chase, were fed on the seeds of the plant known in botany under the name of HIERACIUM MURORUM, and which, undoubtedly, gave its name to all the species of the gender.”
“The HAWK-WEEDS, O. Cichoracea, usually flourish in high mountains, but are found also in low regions. Among them we should mention.”
1. “THE HIERACIUM MURORUM (Auricular muris major, Pulmonaire des Francais), whose common characteristic is that they possess red-brown spots spread on their leaves. The country people look for this plant on account of its aperient and vulnerary properties.”
2. “The FRENCH HAWK-WEED (Pulmonaria Gallica), which grows abundantly in the woods and has the same properties as the above. But the best known is the HIERACIUM PILOSELLA, which is the one we shall consider and study.”
“The HIERACIUM PILOSELLA is found by the side of roads, along slopes and in all uncultivated lands. The vilous stems creep from the soil, bringing forth white, shaggy leaves, like mouse-ear, sprouting suckers and carrying on their peduncles, sulphur-yellow flowers, those at the periphery being usually streaked with red underneath. Its roots are short and slender. This plant flourishes from May to September, and contains a bitter, lactescent juice, which is slightly astringent.”
“Mathioli, who has given us a very complete description of this plant, distinguishes a variety of PILOSELLA which grows among the rocks, and is considerably larger than those known in France. He calls it PILOSELLA MAJOR.”
“PILOSELLA was employed for many years in medicine. Pliny relates that an eye-wash of repute was made of this plant. Later on, it was used as an astringent to heal wounds and arrest the descent of the bowel. Mathioli considers it a good remedy for those purposes, not only internally, but when externally applied.”
“This authority adds, ‘that the shepherds, when informed of the astringent property of this plant are careful not to take their flocks of sheep to places where this herb grows in abundance, for it constipates the cattle so as to cause the death of many.” “this is the origin of our knowledge, as to the value of this plant in diarrhoea and dysentery, and Mathioli again asserts this to be a good remedy for catarrhal conditions of the stomach and bilious vomiting, and equally effective in spitting of blood, and all kinds of cuts and bruises, especially those of the cranium.” Even in our days, the astringent properties of PILOSELLA are utilized with success.’ The facility, with which it is procured in France from May to September, has made of this plant a precious remedy for summer diarrhoea. Besides, in symptomatic diarrhoea, or diarrhoea due to other affection, its administration is followed by an immediate improvement, which consists in a diminution of the intestinal secretion and a more firm consistency of the stools.”
“The astringent principle is chiefly found in the leaves. They are employed in doses of 5 to 20 per 1,000 which can be increased without inconvenience in infusion. This plant is nontoxic and makes an agreeable drink.”
“we can, likewise, employ the leaves of PILOSELLA, as we do other vegetable astringents in their multiple applications.”
“Finally, its use has been advised in Cholera, both as an astringent and intestinal antiseptic; as well as in gravel and tertion fever.”
“By its numerous properties and the facility with which it is obtained, it is certainly a precious remedy, deserving to be better known and more generally utilized.” (Echo medical des Civennes.)
Note. – It seems to me that this remedy could be conveniently compared with RUTA, CALENDULA, ARNICA, HAMAMELIS, HYPERICUM, LEDUM, SYMPHYTUM, and even RHUS TOX. Philadelphia, Pa.
Note. – Althugh hawk-weed (Hieracium) has been used by the old school inseveral diseases, such as scrofula and chronic catarrh, its chief claim to notice rests on its reputed power of curing the bites of venomous snakes. From Stille and Maisch, we learn that the late Dr. Griffith, of Philadelphia, in his Medical Botany, relates the following: “some years ago a person brought a collection of rattlesnakes to this city, and professed to be in possession of a certain cure for the symptoms arising from their bite, which he offered to divulge for a moderate compensation.
This being paid him, he suffered himself to be bitten several times, and after the poisonous effects had displayed themselves, was completely relieved by taking a few ounces of the decoration of a plant which was identified as Hieracium venosum. The same snake was suffered to bite a small puppy, which died from the poison in about five hours. These experiments were made in the presence of a number of distinguished medical and scientific persons.”
The Hieracium venosum grows in the dry woods and plains of North America, the Hieracium Pilosella is an European plant, with a bitter and astringent taste, more so than the former. There is another variety, called Hieracium murorum (Linne), Pulmonaire of the French, which is only slightly bitter and astringent, and which has been used as a vulnerary and in chest affections.