Drawing of plants from The Complete Herbal

Beets may not be considered a herb, however, while the roots of white and red beets are of great importance today—the white being used for sugar production, and the red, beetroot, being eaten very widely—Culpeper dismisses them both. The white is ‘of no use at all’ and the red is ‘not used to be eaten’, and while Culpeper finds more medicinal uses for the white, it is the red which is now known to have considerable health benefits.

Of Beets there are two sorts, which are best known generally, and whereof I shall principally treat at this time, viz. the white and red Beets and their virtues.

Descript. The common white beet has many great leaves next the ground, somewhat large and of a whitish green colour. The stalk is great, strong, and ribbed, bearing great store of leaves upon it, almost to the very top of it: The flowers grow in very long tufts, small at the end, and turning down their heads, which are small, pale greenish, yellow, buds, giving cornered prickly seed. The root is great, long, and hard, and when it has given seed is of no use at all.

The common red Beet differs not from the white, but only it is less, and the leaves and the roots are somewhat red; the leaves are differently red, some only with red stalks or veins; some of a fresh red, and others of a dark red. The root thereof is red, spungy, and not used to be eaten.

Government and virtues. The government of these two sorts of Beets are far different; the red Beet being under Saturn and the white under Jupiter; therefore take the virtues of them apart, each by itself. The white Beet much loosens the belly, and is of a cleansing, digesting quality, and provokes urine. The juice of it opens obstructions both of the liver and spleen, and is good for the head-ache and swimmings therein, and turnings of the brain; and is effectual also against all venomous creatures; and applied to the temples, stays inflammations of the eyes; it helps burnings, being used with oil, and with a little alum put to it, is good for St. Anthony’s fire. It is good for all wheals, pushes, blisters, and blains in the skin: the herb boiled, and laid upon chilblains or kibes, helps them. The decoction thereof in water and some vinegar, heals the itch, if bathed therewith; and cleanses the head of dandruff, scurf, and dry scabs, and does much good for fretting and running sores, ulcers, and cankers in the head, legs, or other parts, and is much commended against baldness and shedding the hair.

The red Beet is good to stay the bloody-flux, women’s courses, and the whites, and to help the yellow jaundice; the juice of the root put into the nostrils, purges the head, helps the noise in the ears, and the tooth-ache; the juice snuffed up the nose, helps a stinking breath, if the cause lie in the nose, as many times it does, if any bruise has been there: as also want of smell coming that way.

Share on social media
Pin It