, or Balsamita vulgaris, is a perennial temperate herb known as costmary
, balsam herb
, bible leaf
, or mint geranium
It has been grown for many centuries for its pleasant, slightly medicinal or balsamic smell. It was used in medieval times as a place marker in bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...
s. It is referred to by Culpeper and others as the 'balsam herb'. http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/costm107.html
Leaves of the plant have been found to contain a range of essential oil
An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils or aetherolea, or simply as the "oil of" the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove...
s. A Spanish study found the oil includes carvone
Carvone is a member of a family of chemicals called terpenoids. Carvone is found naturally in many essential oils, but is most abundant in the oils from seeds of caraway and dill.-Stereoisomerism and odor:...
as the main component (51.5%, 41.0% and 56.9% in three samples), together with minor amounts of beta-thujone, t-dihydrocarvone, c-dihydrocarvone, dihydrocarveol isomer c-carveol and t-carveol. It is noteworthy that levels of beta-thujone, a toxic
A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms; man-made substances created by artificial processes are thus excluded...
In organic chemistry, a ketone is an organic compound with the structure RCR', where R and R' can be a variety of atoms and groups of atoms. It features a carbonyl group bonded to two other carbon atoms. Many ketones are known and many are of great importance in industry and in biology...
, were 9.8%, 12.5% and 12.1% in the respective samples. http://www.actahort.org/books/306/306_19.htm
The plant is known from ancient herbal
AThe use of a or an depends on whether or not herbal is pronounced with a silent h. herbal is "a collection of descriptions of plants put together for medicinal purposes." Expressed more elaborately — it is a book containing the names and descriptions of plants, usually with information on their...
s and was widely grown in Elizabethan knot garden
A knot garden is a garden of very formal design in a square frame, consisting of a variety of aromatic plants and culinary herbs including germander, marjoram, thyme, southernwood, lemon balm, hyssop, costmary, acanthus, mallow, chamomile, rosemary, Calendulas, Violas and Santolina...
Nicholas Culpeper was an English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer. His published books include The English Physician and the Complete Herbal , which contain a rich store of pharmaceutical and herbal knowledge, and Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick ,...
says of costmary: http://www.bibliomania.com/2/1/66/113/21003/1/frameset.html
It is under the dominion of Jupiter. The ordinary costmary, as well as maudlin, provokes urine abundantly, and softens the hardness of the mother; it gently purgeth choler and phlegm, extenuating that which is gross, and cutting that which is tough and glutinous, cleanseth that which is foul, and prevents putrefaction ; it openeth obstructions and relieves their bad effects, and it is beneficial in all sorts of dry agues. It is astringent to the stomach, and strengtheneth the livers other viscera : and taken in whey, worketh more effectively. Taken fasting in the morning, it relieves chronic pains in the head, and to stay, dry up, and consume all their rheums or distillations from the head into the stomach, a much to digest raw humours gathered therein, It is profitable for those that are fallen into a continual evil disposition of the body, called cachexy, especially in beginning of the disease. It is good for weak and cold livers. The seed is given to children for worms, and so is the infusion of flowers in white wine, about two ounces at a time. It maketh an excellent salve to heal old ulcers, being boiled with oil of olive, and adder's tongue with it; and after is strained, put in a little wax, rosin, and turpentine to make it as thick as required.