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Class V. PENTANDRIA. Order I. MONOGYNIA.
ovate, rough. Spe. Char. Leaves ovate, alternate, undulated, hairy. Flowers
The Borago Officinalis, although commonly found growing about rubbish and in waste grounds, is not, however, originally a native of this country, but has now been long enough naturalized here to be considered as an American plant. Its flowers, which appear from June till September, are of a beautiful blue color; hence this plant in many gardens is cultivated for ornament as well as for its popular use, as an ingredient in that grateful summer beverage known by the name of “cool tankard."
This plant appears to have been very much used by the ancients, and its reputed medicinal character seems also to correspond most exactly with that of the common bugloss; the flowers of both have been termed cordial, from which they have been very highly recommended in melancholia, and other affections of the nervous system. As these flowers possess neither warmth, pungency, nor fragrance, their cordial efficacy has been ascribed to a saline quality, which, by abating inordinate heat, is found to be peculiarly grateful and refreshing. But though the herbaceous substance of Borage has been discovered to contain a saline matter, there is no evidence of its existence in the flowers; so that the advantages supposed to be derived by a vinous infusion of these, like those of bugloss, can only be imputed to the menstruum. The leaves of Borage manifest nothing remarkable either to the smell or the taste; but they abound with a juice, which in its expressed state is said to be saltish, and which, on being boiled a sufficient time, forms crystals of nitre; similar crystals have also been obtained from a decoction of the leaves; and hence it may be inferred that this plant has a peculiar claim to the possession of refrigerating and aperient virtues.
Medical Properties and Uses. It has been considered diaphoretic, tonic, alterative, and refrigerant. This plant is very much used in France. A syrup made of the leaves and flowers is employed as a demulcent, refrigerant, and gentle diaphoretic in catarrhal affections, rheumatism, and disease of the skin; it purifies and cleanses the blood from all humors, is very much used in all malignant, putrid, or spotted fevers, and is said to be a sure remedy for poison, obstructions, yellow jaundice and melancholy; it has also been found useful as a gargle for ulcers and cancer of the mouth, and to allay inflammation of the tonsils in the throat.
Syrup.—Take one pound of the leaves and blows; steep in four quarts of water down to three quarts; strain off and add one quart of good molasses and two quarts of Holland gin, when it is ready for use. Dose-A wine-glassful two or three times a day, before eating, and more should the urgency of the case require it.