LEEKS were used, but not in a way easily foreseen. Lupton, in the mid-seventeenth century, ordered the patient to take nine or ten fresh leeks, and to put a thread through the midst of them, “but cut off the tops of the leaves, then hang them round the party’s neck that bleeds, so that the leaves be upward to the nose, and the heads of them downwards…” The homeopathic use of NETTLES for nosebleed is quite traditional. Martin noted the use on Gigha in 1703, the roots being chewed and held to the nostrils, and earlier still, it was claimed that “being stamped, and the juice put up into the nosthrills, it stoppeth the bleeding of the nose”. The Physicians of Myddfai also recommended it, and Wesley prescribed the same cure. Lupton, in the mid-17th century, too, said “let the party that bleedeth chew the root of a nettle in his mouth, but swallow it not down, and without doubt the blood will staunch; for if one keep it in his mouth, he can lose no blood”. A leechbook of the 14th century includes “for bledyng of the nose. Take the bark of (HAZEL), and branse it and blow the powder in thi nose”, a remedy that would probably work quite well, but would be far too long-winded, unless, of course, one had a stock of the powdered bark.
CORNFLOWERS, gathered on Corpus Christi Day, would stop nose bleeding, if held in the hand long enough. What about the other 364 days in the year? Perhaps the flowers could be dried and could be preserved for future use. A bunch of BROOM flowers round the neck will stem a nosebleed, at least according to Scottish belief. Rubbing KNOTGRASS into the nostrils was the Somerset way of stopping a nosebleed.
YARROW has a special place in any account of nosebleeding. “The leaves being out in the nose do cause it to bleed, and easeth the pain of the megrim”. The plant is actually called Nosebleed over a wide area of England. The French, too, have saigne-nez. Prior claims that it got this application by mis-translation, the plant actually referred to being the horsetail. Perhaps so, but it is firmly fixed in yarrow’s folklore. The propensity was used to test a lover’s fidelity. In East Anglia, for instance, a girl would tickle the inside of a nostril with a leaf of yarrow, saying at the same time:
Yarroway, yarroway, bear a white bloe;
If my love love me, my nose will bleed now.
Bergen also quotes this use in America, where the girl says:
Yarrow, yarrow, if he loves me and I loves he,
A drop of blood I’d wish to see.
Another Suffolk rhyme is:
Green arrow, green arrow, you bears a white blow,
If my love love me my nose will bleed now;
If my love don’t love me, it ‘ont bleed a drop.
If my love do love me, ’twill bleed every drop.
SHEPHERD’S PURSE (in tincture form) is the “great specific for haemorrhages of all kinds”, and that includes nosebleed as well as all other internal haemorrhages. It has been so used through the centuries, and is still prescribed.
A very odd cure is recorded from Japan. There, an infusion of the leafy shoot of CHICKWEED, with sugar, is given internally, to stop a nosebleed. CORIANDER juice, “blown up the nostrils”, was used too.