Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Herbalist Almanac for 1976

Previously on Papergreat, I have written about the 1932 edition and the (sort of) 2011 edition of The Herbalist Almanac.

Recently, I stumbled across the 1976 edition of this annual catalog for Indiana Botanic Gardens' herbal products. The 1976 edition is much closer to the content and spirit of the 1932 almanac than it is to the 2011 one.

Some highlights and interesting tidbits from the 1976 edition:
  • The first page includes the disclaimer: "Herbs or Botanicals have been used since the beginning of recorded history for their medicinal properties. ... We are not allowed and do not make therapeutic claims for some herbals, on which medical opinions may differ. However those who desire further information relative to the properties and uses of roots and herbs, will find books on Materia Medica in most public libraries."
  • There are still month-by-month weather forecasts for the United States. Every entry seems to begin with one of these phrases: "Clearing time," "Unsettled spell," "Stormy weather," "Fair time," or "Variable time."
  • The following is written in praise of Sweet Woodruff:
    "Germans love this small fragrant herb and have numerous names for it -- best known are Waldmeister, Herzfreund and Magerkraut. Old Teuton warriors carried small sprigs of the herb in battle as a charm. In the Middle Ages, bunches of the herb were hung in churches, kept under the bed or stuffed in mattresses and pillows for its delicate vanilla-like aroma."
  • The following is written regarding Karapincha: "Karapincha is a beautiful small tree found growing at the foot of the towering Himalayan Mountains. All parts of the tree are used as a folk medicine in India and Pakistan. 'Useful and Ornamental Plants of Zanzibar' states that the Swahili people burn the leaves as an incense to keep devils from their children."
  • Something called Carminative Herb Tea No. 49 ($1.50) is touted as an ingredient that can bring new flavor to your spaghetti sauce.1
  • Fun tip #1: To perfume clothes in the wash, put a piece of orris root in the wash water that the clothes are boiled in. This gives them a delicate fragrance resembling violets.
  • Fun tip #2: A small quantity of oil of cajeput poured into a saucer and left near the center of a room will impart a refreshing fragrance.2
  • The almanac points out the many ways that seawrack has been used throughout history.3 They include serving as winter food for cattle, assisting with the drying of cheese, packing lobsters and crabs that are to be shipped long distances, serving as fertilizer and boosting a person's iodine level.
  • Here's what a "grateful user" wrote about Rectal Ointment No. 103:
    "Would you please sent me two jars of your Rectal Ointment No. 103, immediately! That is the best Rectal Ointment we have ever had and we have recommended it to so many people who have had wonderful results also. In fact one farm boy could not ride a tractor. We told him about this rectal ointment and it relieved him. When he was in service and went to Korea, he took two jars along." -- L.M., Waterloo, Iowa
1. In our house, I am told to refer to it as "spaghetti gravy."
2. As long as the cats don't knock it over.
3. Other names for seawrack include Fucus vesiculosus, bladder wrack, bladderwrack, black tang, rockweed, bladder fucus, sea oak, black tany, cut weed, dyers fucus, red fucus and rock wrack.

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