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.
The seeds of the plant, which are very numerous, and enclosed in small capsules, are much eaten by birds.
The BOG PIMPERNEL (A. tenella) is anotherof this species. Its blossoms are larger than those of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and of a pale rose colour, and the leaves which are numerous, are very small in proportion to the blossoms. It is found on marshy grounds, but is rare: it is a perennial; whereas the scarlet variety is an annual.
Gerard speaks of the ‘pimpernel rose in a pasture as you goe from a village hard by London called Knightsbridge unto Fulham, a village thereby.’