The Physiomedical Dispensatory by William Cook, M.D., 1869
Description: Natural Order, Umbelliferae. This plant is a native of Southern Europe, but now grows wild in most parts of that country; and is extensively and easily cultivated in many sections of America. It is an erect, smooth-stemmed annual, about two feet high, openly branching. Leaves compound; upper ones ternate, with linear leaflets; lower ones pinnate, with the pinnae irregularly cut into deep serratures. Flowers numerous, in compound terminal umbels, white or pinkish. Fruit a grayish, round, finely aromatic silicle, one-sixteenth of an inch or more in diameter, easily splitting in two. They contain a small portion of volatile oil, which is mildly penetrating. Alcohol and diluted alcohol act on them freely; but water extracts only a portion of their virtues.
Properties and Uses: These seeds are a mild, but very pleasant aromatic, of the more relaxing class. The ancients, and the present Germans, have used them largely in cookery. They are moderately carminative, and somewhat useful in preventing the griping of cathartics; but are chiefly employed to cover the taste of bitter articles, for which they are really excellent, and are less heating than some agents used for this purpose. They enter into compounds with angelica, senna, gentian, jalap, quassia, lavender, etc.
Medical Herbalism journal and medherb.com