Outlander Claire Frasers Herbal Knowledge
Twenty years ago I began reading the Outlander series of books. Helen DuFriend, an American friend and work colleague, was engrossed in the Outlander books. She thought I would be interested in reading them as they are based in Scotland.
Another Scottish friend, Anne McOmish also read the books and we had great deliberations and musings over them. Mainly relating to the rather dashing Jamie.
Of course, one could not help but fall for Jamie Fraser, even from the pages of a book. However, Claire’s interest in healing herbs also sparked my interest. Indeed Claire’s medical and botanical knowledge certainly aided her survival, in more ways than one, at that time in history. And so Outlander Claire Frasers herbal knowledge was an integral part of the story.
Outlander? more books and a TV show…
Recently I discovered there are several more books in the Outlander series and a television production to boot!
My sister-in-law, Shirley and I sat engrossed for several evenings glued to way too many episodes. Yes, we had square eyes. The TV series is fabulous. However, as is often the case with books versus TV shows there are slight changes. Unfortunately it is not possible to include all details. Some things are cut out.
Even with the first books there are differences. In the UK the first book was titled Cross Stitch. Across the pond it was titled Outlander. I first read Outlander when given it by an American friend. I did not know of Cross Stitch at that time.
Cross Stitch, the UK version, is different. Although the main story remains Cross Stitch includes some changes and some deletions from the version across the pond. I believe new prints in the UK still contain the content of Cross Stitch albeit with the name change to Outlander to link with the television series.
Outlander Claire Frasers Herbal Knowledge
Wow, there are so many medicinal plants in Outlander. The TV series unfortunately could not possibly cover all the healing plants included in the corresponding novels. Only a few pages into the first book Claire mentions comfrey as
“good for haemorrhoids”.
after her husband Frank Randall asks about a dried plant in his copy of Tuscum and Banks.
“that horrible crumbly brown stuff”
Personally I’d have to say I would much prefer the crumbly comfrey to what must surely be a thoroughly boring book with such a title of Tuscum and Banks!
This is the first mention of Claire’s interest in healing plants and botany in the book. However, excluded from the TV show.
Furthermore in the book version she first visits Craigh na Dun with Mr Crook, a local herbalist. Her second visit is with Frank. In the television series her first visit is with Frank. Poor Mr Crook doesn’t even get a mention in the TV episode.
After passing through the stones …
At Castle Leoch, comfrey makes a further entrance in the book and a first introduction in the TV show in episode one.
Mrs FitzGibbons brings Claire garlic, witch hazel, comfrey and cherry bark for Jamie’s painful shoulder and gunshot wound. However, in the book the medicinal plants are listed as garlic, thyme, comfrey and willow bark.
Witch hazel is a shrub or small tree. It is not native to Scotland or even the UK. The wild cherry tree would have grown in Scotland but it is rarer in the north of the country and south west. In fact in Highland folklore it was believed a witches tree!
It is possible the medicinal plants were changed for the TV show. Produced by an American cable company, initially for an American audience. However, it is also probable the television series is based on Outlander, the first book. Not the UK version, Cross Stitch.
Garlic is a powerful antiseptic, as is thyme. Chosen, in the book, for wound cleansing. Comfrey aids wound healing. Mrs Fitz brought comfrey and willow bark to ease Jamie’s pain. Willow bark is a source of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid perhaps better known today as the pharmaceutical preparation Aspirin.
Growing in the Castle Leoch Herb Garden
In the herb garden at Castle Leoch Claire finds fennel and mustard on the west side and chamomile on the more sunny south side.
Other medicinal allies growing include foxglove, sweet violet, fumitory, thyme, marigolds and yarrow. If interested click those underscored to learn more about their medicinal uses.
First Meeting with Geillis Duncan
In the UK book version Claire finds wood sorrel beneath roots of an alder. She searches for more. Apparently in the Outlander book she seeks a mushroom that is poisonous if prepared inappropriately. She is looking at mushrooms in the TV series too.
Geillis Duncan, talking of wood sorrel.
“Those are good for helping the monthlies”
Consequently startled Claire stands up and bangs her head on a pine branch.
A Battered and Bruised Jamie
After Jamie takes a punishment for Laoghaire he is once again battered and bruised. Willow bark again makes an appearance. Given as a tea to rinse his mouth and cleanse the cuts and ease the pains.
Claire asks Mrs Fitz about the increased chance of bleeding. Claire, from the future, probably knew about the blood thinning properties of aspirin. Mrs Fitz recommends following the tea rinse with St John’s Wort soaked in vinegar. She stipulates St John’s Wort is ground up well. After gathering under a full moon. St John’s Wort is wound healing and helpful to staunch bleeding.
And as for the surgery of the late Davie Beaton! That is a real challenge for Outlander Claire Frasers herbal knowledge. A story for another day.
I could write forever about the many healing plants from Outlander Claire Frasers herbal knowledge.