A passing word should certainly be given to the Goutweed, or, Goatweed, among Herbal Simples. Goutweed is, though but little regarded, nevertheless, a common and troublesome garden weed, of the Umbelliferous tribe, and thought to possess certain curative virtues.
Botanically it is the OEgopodium podagraria, signifying, by the first of these names, Goatsfoot, and by the second, a specific power against gout. The plant is also known as Herb Gerard, because dedicated to St. Gerard, who was formerly invoked to cure gout, against which this herb was employed. Also it has been named Ashweed, wild Master-wort, and Gout-wort.
The herb Goutweed grows about a foot high, with white flowers in umbels, having large, thrice-ternate, aromatic leaves, and a creeping root. These leaves are sometimes boiled, and eaten, but they possess a strong, disagreeable flavour. Culpeper says: "It is not to be supposed that Goutweed hath its name for nothing; but upon experiment to heal the gout, and sciatica; as also joint aches, and other cold griefs; the very bearing it about one easeth the pains of the gout, and defends him that bears it from disease."
Hill recommends the root and fresh buds of the leaves as excellent in fomentations and poultices for pains; and the leaves, when boiled soft, together with the roots, for application about the hip in sciatica.
No chemical analysis of the Goutweed is yet on record.
"Herbe Gerard groweth of itself in gardens without setting, or sowing; and is so fruitful in his increase that where once it hath taken root, it will hardly be gotten out again, spoiling and getting every yeere more ground—to the annoying of better herbes."