What herbs did midwives use in Europe during the Middle Ages?

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jgeertz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Midwives relied on many herbs to carry out their work. A list of documented herbal remedies passed from generation to generation of midwives is listed in the appendix of the book, The Birth House. A paraphrased description of some of these remedies includes:

Alder: Give in drops to a newborn to prevent jaundice.

Borage: The seeds and leaves increase milk production.

Cayenne: Strengthens the mother's womb.

Devil's Bit (scabiosa): Brew the flowers and drink to prevent menstrual irregularities.

Fennel: Encourages mother's let-down milk reflex.

Dill: treatment for colicky babies - rub the belly with dill seed oil.

Feverfew: Given as tea gives strength to the womb.

Lobelia: Natural cramp inducer in cases of miscarriage.

Marigold (calendula): Used as a salve for sore spots.

Quince: Gel treatment for sore, cracked nipples.

Sage: Dries up milk.

[Ami McKay. The Birth House. William Morrow. New York, N.Y. 2006. p.306-312]