The fresh juice of the Sundew herb contains malic acid in a free state, various salts, and a red colouring matter; also glucose, and a peculiar crystallisable acid. Cattle of the female gender are said to have their copulative instincts excited by eating even a small quantity of the plant.
The Sundew (Ros solis, or Drosera rotundifolia) is a little plant always eagerly recognised in marshy and heathy grounds by ardent young botanists. In the sun its leaves seem tipped with dew (drosos). It grows plentifully in Hampshire and the New Forest, bearing a cluster of hairy leaves in a stellate form, at the top of a slender stem. These leaves either from lack of other sustenance in so barren a soil, or more probably as an advance in plant evolution to a higher grade of development, excrete a sticky moisture or dew, which entangles unwary flies settling on the plant, and which serves to digest these victims therewith. Each of the long red hairs on the leaves is viscid, and possesses a small secreting gland at its top.
Some writers say the word Sundew means "sin" ever, moist (dew). The plant is also called Redrot, and Moor Grass, because the soil in which it grows is unwholesome for sheep.
It goes further by the additional names of Youthwort, and Lustwort--quia acrimonia sua sopitum veneris desiderium excitat (Dodoeus). The fresh juice of the Sundew herb contains malic acid in a free state, various salts, and a red colouring matter; also glucose, and a peculiar crystallisable acid. Cattle of the female gender are said to have their copulative instincts excited by eating even a small quantity of the plant.
Throughout Europe it has long been esteemed a remedy of repute for chronic bronchitis and asthma; and more recently, in the hands of homoeopathic practitioners, it has acquired a fame for specifically curing whooping cough in its spasmodic stages, after the first feverishness of this malady has become subdued. It signally lessens the frequency and force of the spasmodic attacks, besides diminishing the sickness.
Provers who have pushed on themselves the administration of the Sundew in toxical quantities, developed hoarseness, with expectoration of yellow mucus from the throat and upper lungs, as well as a hacking cough, and loss of flesh, this combination of symptoms closely resembling the form of tubercular consumption which begins in the throat, and extends mischievously to the lungs. Regarded from such point the Sundew may be justly pronounced a homoeopathic antidote to consumptive disease of the nature here indicated, when attacking spontaneously from constitutional causes.
Moreover, country folk notice that sheep who eat the Sundew in their pasturage have often a violent cough, and waste away. Dr. Curie, of Paris, fed cats with this plant, and they died subsequently with all the symptoms of lung consumption, their chest organs being afterwards found studded with tubercular deposit though cats are not ordinarily liable to tubercle.
So the Sundew may fairly be accepted as a medicinal Herbal Simple for laryngeal and pulmonary consumption in its early stages, as well as for whooping-cough, after the manner already explained. A tincture is made (H.) from the entire fresh plant, with spirit of wine, of which a couple of drops may be given in water several times a day, to a child of from four to eight years old, for confirmed whooping-cough; and if this dose seems to aggravate the paroxysms, or to provoke sickness, it must be reduced in strength, and dilution.
Also from four to ten drops of the tincture may be administered with a tablespoonful of cold water, two or three times a day, for several consecutive weeks, to a consumptive adult, in the early stages of this disease. Dr. Hughes (Brighton) has employed a diluted tincture of the Sundew (one part of this tincture admixed with nine parts of spirit of wine) in doses of from three to five drops with water, to a child of from three to eight years of age, for spasmodic whooping-cough, several times in the day, with marked success; whilst a larger dose or the stronger tincture served only to increase the cough in violence and frequency. The same results may perhaps follow too strong or full a dose to a consumptive patient, so that it must be regulated by the effects produced. Externally, the juice of the fresh Sundew has been used for destroying warts.