1-135. AGNOS

SUGGESTED: Vitex agnus-castus Agnus Castus, Hemp Tree,


Agnus [vitex] is a shrub almost as high as a tree bearing

long sprigs, growing near and in watery fields and

in rough and uneven places. It is hard to break and the

leaves are similar to those of the olive tree yet more

tender and bigger. Some of them bear white flowers

inclining to purple, others purple flowers; and the seed is

like that of pepper. It is warming and astringent and the

fruit (taken as a drink) helps those stung by snakes, the

splenetic, and those with dropsy. A teaspoonful (taken as

a drink in wine) brings down milk [breastfeeding] and

expels the menstrual flow. It destroys generation [birth

control] and is rubbed on the head bringing on a deep

sleep. A decoction of the herb and seed is good as a hip

bath for disorders and inflammation around the womb.

The seed (taken in a drink with pulegium [3-36], or the

smoke inhaled or applied) causes purgation. It dissolves

headaches applied as a poultice, and is gently poured on

the lethargic and mentally ill with vinegar and oil. The

leaves either smoked and inhaled or scattered around

drive away venomous creatures, and applied as a

poultice they help those stung by such beasts. Applied

with butter and vine leaves they soothe hardness of the

testes [old English: ovaries]. The seeds smeared on with

water lessen cracks in the perineum, and with the leaves

it heals dislocated joints and wounds. It is thought to be a

preventative for chafing and blisters if anyone (as he



travels) holds a rod of it in his hand. It is called agnus

because in the sacrifices to Ceres the chaste matrons used

it for sprinkling under them; and it is called lygos (that is,

vimen) because of the difficulty of breaking the stems. It is

also called agonon (as we should say, unfruitful or barren),

or lygon, a sort of vimen [producing long flexible shoots],

amictomiaenon, or tridactylon; the Magi call it semnon, a sort

of venerandum [to be respected]; it is also called sanguis

ibis, the Egyptians call it sum, the Romans, salix marina,

others call it piper agreste, and some, ligusticum.