Notes (Sheep Sorrel):
The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
Numbers 9:11 (KJV)
In the second month on the fourteenth day in the evening they shall keep it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
Numbers 9:11 (RSV)
In the second month on the fourteenth day between the two evenings, they should prepare it. Together with unfermented cakes and bitter greens they should eat it.
Numbers 9:11 (NWT)
Like so many other tart and bitter herbs, or bitter greens in the NWT, this one has been identified by some scholars as a good candidate for one of the bitter herbs of the Bible. But Israeli botanist Michael Zohary does not include it in his Plants of the Bible, nor is this one of more than a dozen species of Rumex listed in his Flora of Palestine (FP1). It is not even bitter; it is pleasingly tart. I have enjoyed sheep sorrel soup with unfermented corn bread on occasion. Scandinavians even add it to bread. But I consider it very unlikely to be one embraced under the "bitter herb" concept in the Bible (BIB, FP1; ZOH). Used interchangeably with Rumex acetosa (HHB), also not reported in the Flora of Palestine. But, in one NWT passage, sorrel is mentioned:
And the cattle and the full-grown asses cultivating the ground will eat fodder seasoned with sorrel.
Many of the species of Rumex are pleasingly tart with oxalic acid. And some tart sorrels may be among the more than a dozen species listed by Zohary in the Flora of Palestine (FP1).
Common Names (Sheep Sorrel):
Acederilla (Sp.; EFS); Acetosella (It.; EFS); Acidula (JLH); Agrelleta (Cat.; KAB); Aizon (JLH); Azeda Miuda (Por.; AVP); Azedas de Ovella (Por.; AVP); Azedinha (Mad.; Por.; AVP; JAD); Azedinha Alleluia (Por.; AVP); Bodilanyana (Suto; KAB); Boksuring (Afrikan; KAB); Bread and
Cheese (Eng.; KAB); Chuk (Hindi; NAD); Chuka (Hindi; SKJ); Chuka Palam (Beng.; India; EFS; NAD); Chutrika (Sanskrit; EFS; NAD); Cizaña (Ven.; EFS); Common Sorrel (Eng.; BUR; EAS); Cow Sorrel (Eng.; BUR); Cuckoo Bread (Eng.; EFS); Cuckoo's Meat (Eng.; KAB); Feldsauramfer (Ger.; NAD); Field Sorrel (Eng.; EAS; KAB); Flora Carol Sorrel (Eng.; BUR); Horse Sorrel (Eng.; BUR); Hhummad Saghir (Arab.; Syria; HJP); Kleiner Sauer Ampfer (Ger.; EFS); Losey (Dom.; AVP); Mountain Sorrel (Eng.; BUR); Oseille (Fr.; AVP); Oseille des Brebis (Fr.; AVP; KAB); Oseille Marron (Fr.; AVP); Oseillette (Fr.; AVP); Patience (Fr.; AVP); Petite Oseille (Fr.; Reunion; EFS; KAB); Red Top Sorrel (Eng.; BUR); Red Weed (Eng.; BUR); Romasilla (Chile; AVP); Ruibar-billo (Cr.; AVP); Samhadh Caora (Irish; KAB); Sangre de Toro (Col.; AVP); Sarcille (Fr.; KAB); Schapezuring (Dutch; EFS); Sheep Sorrel (Eng.; Scn.; AH2; CR2; HJP; USN); Sorrel (Eng.; USN); Sour Dock (Eng.; EAS); Sour Sorrel (Eng.; JLH); Sourgrass (Eng.; Ocn.; AH2; EAS); Tángax Úqux (Aleutians; JLH); Vinagrerita (Sp.; KAB); Wild Sorrel (Eng.; EAS); Wilde Zuring (Dutch; EFS); Wood Sorrel (Eng.; BUR); Xiao Suan Mo (China; USN).
Activities (Sheep Sorrel):
Allergenic (1; WOI); Antiinflammatory (f; BUR); Antitumor (1; FNF); Depurative (f; EFS); Diaphoretic (f; EFS; KAB; WOI); Diuretic (f; FAD; PNC; WOI); Febrifuge (f; EFS; KAB); Hemostat (f; EFS); Laxative (1; APA); Peristaltic (f; APA); Poison (f; BIB; KAB); Purgative (f; EFS); Refrigerant (f; FAD; KAB); Styptic (f; BIB); Sudorific (f; BIB).
Indications (Sheep Sorrel):
Bleeding (f; BIB); Bruise (f; DEM); Cancer (f1; BUR; FAD; JLH; SKJ; TOM; WOI); Cancer, colon (f1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, eye (f1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, face (f1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, hand (f1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, skin (f1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, stomach (f1; FNF; JLH); Cancer, throat (f1; FNF; JLH); Dermatosis (f; EFS; JLH); Diarrhea (f; FAD); Dysmenorrhea (f; FAD); Dyspepsia (f; BIB); Dysuria (f; KAB; PNC); Epithelioma (1; FNF; JLH); Fever (f; FAD; KAB; NAD); Gastrosis (f; DEM); Inflammation (f; BUR; FAD); Jaundice (f; HJP); Metrorrhagia (f; FAD); Nephrosis (f; HJP; KAB); Pain (f; HJP); Scrofula (f; FEL); Scurvy (f1; BIB); Sore (f; BUR; DEM); Sore Throat (f; JLH; TOM); Sunburn (f; HJP); Syphilis (f; FEL); Tuberculosis (f; DEM); Tumor (f1; BUR; FNF; FAD; SKJ); Wart (f; DEM; JLH); Wen (f; JLH).
Dosages (Sheep Sorrel):
Foliage widely eaten, but not often marketed. Also used as vegetable rennet to curdle milk. Roots said to be eaten (BIB; FAC; HJP). Native Americans ate the leaves, stems, seeds, even the roots, of various species of Rumex. Anticosti, Bella Coola, Chehalis, Cherokee, Delaware, Hesquiat, Iroquois, Miwok, Okanagan, Saanich, and Thompson Indians reportedly eat the plant (DEM). Irishmen long ago made sorrel soup with milk. Scandinavians add it to bread. As a food pharmaceutical, a USDA 100-g serving of fresh sorrel equates to about 10 g dry sorrel (HOW).
• Alabamians suggest gargling with a strong tea for sore throat (TOM).
• Aleutian Islanders apply steamed leaves to bruises and warts (DEM; JLH).
• Asian Indians suggest the expressed juice as antiscorbutic refrigerant (NAD).
• Cherokee poultice bruised leaves and flowers on old sores (DEM).
• Europeans use the plant for renal and urinary problems (KAB).
• Lebanese consider the tea diuretic and febrifuge (HJP).
• Lebanese take decoction for dyspepsia, jaundice, kidney pain, and sunburn (HJP).
• Mohegans chew fresh leaves to alleviate stomach problems (DEM).
• North Americans apply the juice as a salve to skin cancers (JLH).
• Squaxin Indians eat raw leaves for tuberculosis (DEM).
• Tasmanians use the plant for cancer of the throat (JLH).
Downsides (Sheep Sorrel):
Class 2d (AHP). Those with kidney stones should avoid this plant. Oxalates should be avoided by endometriosis and nephrosis patients. Oxalic acid levels may attain 10 to 35% of dry matter in some species. The lowest lethal dose (LDlo) reported for humans is 700 mg/kg body weight. Weighing 100 kg, my LDlo would be 70,000 mg, or 70 g (more than 2 oz oxalic acid) (HOW). Schrader et al. (2001) reported fatal intoxication of grazing animals due to sweet clover (Melilotus alba), sheep's sorrel (Rumex acetosella L.), bracken (Pteridium aquilinum Kuhn), and St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum L.) (X11413718).
Natural History (Sheep Sorrel):
A common fungal parasite is the leaf spot (Cercospora acetosella). This is the common winter host for Botrytis cinerea (gray mold fungus), which spreads to lowbush blueberry flowers in spring, producing blight and tip dieback. A major insect forager is the downy, slug-shaped, reddish or bright green caterpillar of the American copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas). Adult males, showing blackspotted, copper-colored forewings, defend small territories centered on sunny patches of sheep sorrel. Other Lycaena caterpillars may also feed. Ants frequently harvest mature seeds, dispersing them to their mounds. Bumblebees, honeybees, and some smaller butterflies visit the male plants, collecting pollen. Grouse, pheasants, prairie chickens, bobwhites, turkeys, and woodcocks consume the seeds, as do horned larks, red-winged blackbirds, bobolinks, hoary redpolls, and many sparrows. Voles and mice also eat the seeds. Poultry, rabbits, and deer readily graze the plant (EAS). Fruits are used as poultry feed. They are, like the foliage, on account of oxalic acid, reported to be poisonous to horses and sheep (BIB).
Extracts (Sheep Sorrel):
Polysaccharides show antitumor activity (ZUL).
butcher's broom (ruscus aculeatus l.) ++ ruscaceae
Notes (Butcher's Broom):
And there shall be no more a pricking brier unto the house of Israel, nor any grieving thorn of all that are round about them, that despised them; and they shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 28:24 (KJV)
And for the house of Israel there shall be no more a brier to prick or a thorn to hurt them among all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the Lord GOD.
Ezekiel 28:24 (RSV)
And no more will there prove to be to the house of Israel a malignant prickle or a painful thorn out of all those round about them. Those who are treating them with scorn; and people will have to know that I am the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.
Ezekiel 28:24 (NWT)
In my first Bible Book, I accepted other authors' suggestions that this is the pricking brier of Ezekiel. So, on a nice spring day as I wrote this, I walked out to the Green Farmacy Garden to contemplate
the differences in the words "bramble," "briar," "brier," "nettle," "prickle," "thorn," many of which connote a special thorn-like appendage. Thorny, nettle-like, and thistle-like species abound in arid lands. My Ruscus is very prickly, the tips of the leaves being the offender, rather than some special appendage. But there are hundreds of prickly species in the Flora of Palestine, and I can only say that this could be one of them. It is not, however, mentioned by Zohary in his Flora of Palestine, nor his later Plants of the Bible. I feel confident that this Mediterranean species has been introduced and survived in Israel and would survive in most Mediterranean climates. Because it shows such great promise in some of my maladies of old age, I think it belongs in any faith-based medicinal herb treatise or biblical garden, whether or not it is the thorn or the brier of Ezekiel.
Common Names (Butcher's Broom):
Acebo Menor (Sp.; EFS); Asa Barri (Arab.; BOU); Atkizounn (Ber.; BOU); Box Holly (Eng.; Ocn.; AH2; USN); Briar (Eng.; BIB); Bois Pointu (Fr.; BOU); Box Holly (Eng.; BOU; USN); Bruscolo (It.; EFS); Brusco (Sp.; EFS); Butcher's Broom (Eng.; Scn.; AH2; BOU; CR2; USN); Cobanpuskulu (Tur..; EFS); Erva dos Vasculhos (Por.; EFS); Fragon (Fr.; BOU); Fragon Epineux (Fr.; EFS); Fragon herisse (Fr.; EFS); Fragon Petit-houx (Fr.; EFS); Fragon Piquant (Fr.; BOU; USN); Gilbarbeira (Por.; EFS); Gilbardeira (Por.; EFS); Houx Frelon (Fr.; BOU; EFS); Jusbarda (Sp.; EFS); Khizana (Arab.; BOU); Kneeholm (Eng.; TAN); Knee Holly (Eng.; BIB; BOU); Muerdjel (Arab.; BOU); Myrte epineux (Fr.; EFS); Petit Houx (Fr.; BOU; USN); Prickle (Eng.; NWT); Pungitopo (It.; EFS); Rabba Bath (Arab.; Syria; HJP); Redradj (Ber.; BOU); Rusco (Sp.; Spain; EFS; VAD); Rusco Pungente (It.; EFS); Senesaq (Arab.; BOU); Shurrabet er-ra'i (Arab.; BOU); Sicilian Asparagus (Eng.; FAC); Sobhane Khallaku (Arab.; BOU); Stacheliger Mausedorn (Ger.; EFS); Stekelige Ruscus (Dutch; EFS); Unnab Barri (Arab.; BOU); Verdenace (Sp.; EFS).
Activities (Butcher's Broom):
Alpha-adrenergic (1; PNC); Alpha-adrenergic Agonist (1; X11152059); Antiaggregant (f; PED); Antiedemic (1; VAD); Anti-inflammatory (12; KOM; PHR; PH2; SKY; VAD); Aperient (f; PNC); Bitter (f; PED); Capillariprotective (1; PH2; SKY; VAD; X11152059); Cyclooxygenase Inhibitor (1; X15364641); Deobstruent (f; EFS); Diaphoretic (f;. BOU; EFS; PNC); Diuretic (2; BOU; KOM; PED; PH2); Emmenagogue (f; EFS); Expectorant (f; BIB); Febrifuge (f; BOU; EFS); Laxative (f; APA; BGB; EFS); Orexigenic (f; BOU; EFS); Tonic (1; BOU; PH2); Vasoconstrictor (1; APA; PNC; PED); Venoconstrictor (1; PNC; SKY; X11152059); Venotonic (f1; VAD; X11152059).
Indications (Butcher's Broom):
Amenorrhea (f; EFS); Anorexia (f; BOU); Arthrosis (1; APA); Atherosclerosis (f; PED; SKY); Bronchosis (f; HJP); Cancer, prostate (f; HHB; JLH); Capillary Fragility (1; PNC); Catarrh (f; BIB); Chilblain (f; BIB; X15664457); Circulosis (1; YAH); Constipation (f; DAW); Cramps (1; APA; KOM; PH2); CVI (12; APA; BGB; PH2; X14612852); Cystitis (f; VAD); Dropsy (f; BIB); Dyspnea (f; BIB); Dysuria (f; BIB); Edema (1; VAD); Erythema (1; VAD); Fever (f; BOU; EFS); Fractures (f; APA; BGB); Fungus (1; X10680445); Gout (f; VAD); Gravel (f; DAW); Hemorrhoid (12; APA; BOU; KOM; PH2; KOM; MAB; SKY); Hepatosis (f; BIB); High Blood Pressure (f; VAD); Hyperazotemia (f; VAD); Hypertriglyceridemia (1; BGB); Hyperuricemia (f; VAD); Infection (1; X10680445); Inflammation (f12; APA; KOM; VAD); Itch (1; APA; KOM; PH2); Jaundice (f; BIB; EFS); Mycosis (1; X10680445); Nephrosis (f; BIB); Obesity (f; VAD); Orthostatic Hypotension (1; X11152059); Oliguria (f; VAD); Pain (1; KOM); Phlebitis (1; PED); Pneumonia (f; HJP); Prostatosis (f; DAW; JLH); Pulmonosis (f; EFS); Respirosis (f; BIB); Retinopathy (2; BGB); Rheumatism (f; APA); Scrofula (f; BIB); Stone (f; VAD); Swelling (f1; APA; KOM; PH2; VAD); Thrombosis (1; HHB; PED); Ulcus Cruris (f; HHB); Urethrosis (f; VAD); Uterosis (f; BGB); Varicosity (1; APA; BOU; MAB; SKY; YAH); Venolymphosis (1; YAH); Water Retention (F12; BIB; BOU, PH2).
Dosages (Butcher's Broom):
Young shoots cooked and eaten like asparagus, even called Sicilian Asparagus, and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, a nice health food methinks. Scorched seed used as coffee substitute
(EFS; FAC; GMH; TAN); 300 mg tablets (APA); 7-11 mg ruscogenin (or neoruscogenin + rusco-genin)/day, or equivalent in raw extract (KOM; PH2); 1-2 Tbsp fresh root (PED); 1.5-3 g dry root (PED); 2 g dry root:10 ml alcohol:10 ml water (PED); 1 g extract, 3 x/day (SKY); StX (with 50-100 mg ruscogenin)/day) (SKY). The VAD dosages are much higher, 60 g root/liter steeped 10 minutes; 3 cups/day; 40 g in decoction, boiled 10 minutes, 3 cups/day between meals.
• Italians treat chilblains (X15664457), perhaps self-flagellating with thorny boughs (BIB).
• Lebanese use the rhizome, sliced and dried, in decoction for catarrh, diuresis, dropsy, jaundice, kidney troubles, and respiratory difficulties (HJP).
• Middle Easterners who use this folklorically showed that its extracts inhibit Trichophyton violaceum (X10680445).
• North Africans use the plant for fever (BOU).
• Spanish writers hint that this may be the best of venotonic herbs (VAD). Downsides (Butcher's Broom):
Class 1 (AHP, 1997; SKY, 1998). No health hazards or side effects known with proper therapeutic dosages (PH2). Commission E reports rhizome permitted for oral use. No contraindications or interactions. Adverse effects: rarely gastric complaints, nausea, queasiness (AEH; KOM; PHR; PH2).
Extracts (Butcher's Broom):
Ruscogenin, first isolated from this plant, is identical with Sapogenin B, which could be used as a starter material for steroids (BIB). Ruscogenins and neoruscogenins, similar to diosgenin, responsible for activities of decreasing inflammation and vascular permeability (SKY). Saponins are anti-aggregant, antiinflammatory, capillarifortificant, and diuretic (PED).
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