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Folio 187v

On the third day after the scarring, place blood suckers on the gums themselves. Then wash the mouth with vinegar. Let the mouth be washed twice with a decoction of alum, gall-nut, and rose water, three or four times a day from that vinegar. And wash in this way up to four days, and it will help greatly.

Against scabies: boil quick sulfur and litharge and alum in vinegar, or take, if you want, sulfur with nut oil added, add it to a bath. Wash the afflicted part with warm water, and cover it afterwards.

A bath of alum water is useful for the dropsical, the scabious, and those with aching joints. If however, it isn’t found naturally, a substitute is made thus: let salt and alum boil in water, and with hot stones put into the bottom of a tub, let the stones be sprinkled with warm water and let the patient sweat, sitting in the middle of the tub, and then be washed with water.

Some say that powdered alum is the same as lye. It eats away the superfluous flesh of the eyelids and of any other member; it checks the very worst wounds, that is of farcy buds[1], so that they don’t spread around the body.

Mixed with vinegar and honey it strengthens infirm teeth and checks blood flowing from the mouth.

It heals pustules and scabies if they are rubbed with it, or if they are washed with water in which it has been poured.

Mixed with vinegar and gall-nut, it is effective for checking farcy buds, lest they affect healthy areas.


[1] This is glanders, a disease of horses that is communicable to humans. It causes nodules in various parts of the body. Glanders causes the swelling of the eyelids mentioned here.

Chap. 8 (f. 187v): Celery (Apium)

Apium graveolescens from Wikipedia

Common celery is warm at the beginning of the third grade and dry in the middle of the same.[2] The plant is sufficiently common: its seed is of the greater efficacy, secondarily the root, third, the plant itself. When, moreover, apium simply is found in a medical formula, the seed is meant.

The seed itself is called selim.[3] It has a diuretic force.

The juice of apium in which saxifrage is cooked relieves strangury and difficulty urinating, also stoppage of urine. Let you give it when it is strained, in the morning. Or this:

Let saxifrage, gromwell, filipendula[4], lapis lincis[5] be cooked in the juice of apium in a strainer, and when the syrup is made, with sugar added, may be given in the morning with warm water.

Likewise, the juice of apium with a decoction of tamarisk dissolves an obstruction and hardness of the spleen and liver, but more properly of the spleen.

Another, likewise: let a decoction of apium root, fennel, and parsley be taken.

Against jaundice let a syrup be made from the juice of apium and of escarole and let it be given with warm water.

Against dropsy let apium root and fennel root boil in the juice of fumitory and let a syrup be made from the water of the decoction with sugar added; it consumes phlegm[6] in a miraculous way.

Let that also be done for the dropsical and for those suffering from Hyposarca.[7] Rx.: of apium juice 1 pound, of escarole 5 pounds, of mastic 1 ounce; with the decoction prepared let it be strained and afterwards, with sugar added, it becomes a syrup. But about the end of the decoction, let 3 drams of powdered spurge be added and 5 ounces of rhubarb powder, and let it be offered in the morning with warm water.

Against madness, let the juice of apium and verjuice or vinegar and oil of violets or roses, 3 pounds, be mixed and boiled in a glass vessel at a fire, and the head anointed with this hot oil, but let it be shaved first.

Against a daily or quotidian fever from a cold cause,[8] let a purging come first. Afterward, let agaric be cooked in a colocynth[9] apple or a hollowed cyclamen root and such a decoction given to the patient.

Note that apium is harmful to pregnant women, since it dissolves the container of the fetus[10] by means of its potency. Whence Galen: when apium is repeatedly necessary for pregnant women, putrid abscesses and putrid wounds are born in the body of the infant.

Likewise let lactating women abstain from apium, lest the infant either be mentally handicapped or epileptic.

It harms epileptics, since it loosens and provokes matter to action and moves upwards.

But it is harmful to children, for this age, on account of an abundance of humidity and debility of strength and constriction of the limbs, is prone to epilepsy.

There are also several types of apium[11]: that is, frog or kidney apium, and apium risus, and apium of hemorrhoids (= pilewort).

Pilewort or Ranunculus ficaria.[12]

Frog’s apium[13], moreover, when cooked in wine and oil and applied as a poultice, assists the kidneys and chest. It relieves the kidneys of pain and mitigates strangury. For this reason, it is called kidney apium, since it assists the kidneys, or frog apium, since it is especially found in places that frogs inhabit, like watery places. The aforementioned poultice soothes pain in the intestines.

Against tenasmus,[14] let a strainer of that [apium] cooked in water of bran be injected through an enema. From its juice, with both oil and wax, let an ointment be made against a disorder of the spleen, and applied as a poultice.

Let apium risus[15] decay in wine and oil; let it be cooked and afterward strained through a cloth, and with wax added it becomes an unguent. It sooths the splenetic greatly, hence it is called apium risus, since it purges the superabounding melancholic humor, from the excess of which comes sadness. Therefore, from a lack of this the contrary effect follows, that is mirth, and then laughter, whence it is said that the spleen causes laughter, since it cleanses the cause of sadness, that is melancholy humors.

Apium risus cooked in water or wine avails against painful urination, inability to urinate, and especially against a stone. Let this decoction be given by itself. Let litontripon[16] be given in the same decoction, as well. They say, as well, that this taken internally slays a man by means of laughter.

For inducing menstruation let fumes or a weak solution be injected. Note that apium should not be administered by mouth, since in some regions it is found most destructive, and if it is taken it is the cause of death.

Against hemorrhoids: apium of hemorrhoids cooked in wine and poulticed on the buttocks dries out moist hemorrhoids. Care must be taken lest this be done with them oozing; if there is pain without oozing, with swelling, if from bulging of those veins, it may soothe this and relieve the swelling.

The powder of this apium, charred, mixed in honey and used as a suppository dries hemorrhoids and on account of this is called apium of hemorrhoids.

AKG and MP

[1] Apium is a genus of herbs in the carrot family (Umbellifers) like parsley and celery. There was little effort to distinguish members of the genus in early texts, at least by name.

[2] Lynn Thorndike comments on degrees where the humors are concerned: “Another definition of degree is an excess or deficiency from the best combination perceptible to sense. There are four degrees: first, third, second, and fourth. The first degree is that dominium which is perceptible to sense, and sense dominates over it, and furthermore it can be perceived without injury. The second is that dominium which equals sense, more than which cannot be perceived without injury. The third is that dominium which injures sense, ” ad quod non nisi virtus accedit. Quartus vero dominium quod est infra primum si quod sit sensu non potest dis- cretum,” and what is beyond the fourth degree sense cannot comprehend, since the dominium of the fourth degree destroys the sense, wherefore the medici have said that there are only four degrees. Each degree has three parts : beginning, middle, and end. The beginning of the first degree is that which starts to equal sense ; its end is fully equal to sense, its mean between them both; and similarly with the third and fourth degrees. Perhaps the ancients could have gone on dividing degrees ad infinitum , but to escape the ridicule of the sophist and not confuse their readers, they left the doctrine of degrees as has been stated. A grain of pepper and drop of water are too small to be destructive. Some bodies are called hot or cold, dry or moist absolutely, some relatively to the human complexio, as Galen says in Tegni.” See “Three texts on degrees of medicines,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 38, no. 6 (Nov.-Dec. 1964) p. 536, under Resources.

[3] I.e. selinon or selinum.

[4] This may be dropwort, or Oenanthe, a fellow member of the Apiaceae, rather than our modern filipendula.

[5] This was supposed to be the solidified urine of a lynx.

[6] As one of the four bodily humors, phlegm was not understood to be just congestion of the lungs, but any watery fluid associated with swelling of the body.

[7] A type of dropsy as well. An edema of subcutaneous fluid.

[8] I.e. causation by an excess of a cold humor.

[9] Colocynth is a gourd known as bitter apple colloquially; it is used as a purgative.

[10] Presumably the amniotic sac.

[11] The Alphita (p. 11-12) mentions five in particular: Apium risus, apium ranarum, apium emoroidarum, apium silvestrum, and apium domesticum. Tony Hunt identifies apium risum and apium ranarum, p. 29; see under Resources.

[12] A number of plants which could be used to soothe hemorrhoids were called pilewort, but the one that seems to have been known in Europe was this ranunculus.  It is obviously not related to apium in our modern understanding, but belongs to the family Ranunculaceae.

[13] The sources for this are unclear on its modern identity, but fumewort (corydalis or a relative) is a possibility.

[14] The painful urge to defecate continually, caused by illness.

[15] This may be wild smallage (i.e. celery), the species Apium graveolescens, pictured above.

Chap. 9 (f. 187v): Concerning Starch

Wheat starch grains     Photo from Scimat

Starch[1] is moderately warm and humid, which is prepared in this way: put the grain in cold water and let it stay there for a day and a night. Refresh the water every day, up to the point that it seems to be entirely rotted. Afterwards, with the water removed, it can be ground the best. And it can be prepared thus with water added, squeezed through a cloth, and exposed to the sun until the absorption of the water.  Let the water be refreshed frequently, that is up until its bleaching. What remains can then be allowed to dry in the bottom of the vessel and be hardened in the sun. And this is called amilum or amidum because it is prepared without milling; it can be made from cleansed barley in a similar way. 

Starch avails against respiratory inflammation and a cough, when it is cooked with barley water and seasoned with almond milk, and with barley sugar added.

Barely starch, from

AKG and MP

[1] The passage begins, “Amidum vel amilum temperate calidum est,” in Latin, but the spelling attested in Latham is amylum. The Alphita defines it as “medulla frumenti sine mola facti.”

Chap. 10 (f. 187v): Concerning Antimony

Antimony, from Wikipedia

Antimony is hot and dry in the fourth degree. It is a vein of earth, and very similar to the metal tin. It is differentiated from a metal since antimony can be pulverized, a metal cannot, metal can be melted, antimony burns. The brighter antimony is, the better. It has the power of dissolving and of greatly reducing (swellings), and of drying most thoroughly.

A powder of antimony can be prepared with soap of spatarensis[1] or Gallic soap,[2] and a wick coated with this may be inserted at the opening of an ulcer.

Its powder, placed on a consuming cancer[3] or on a fleshy growth, is the best remedy.

Against a polyp, an Apostle’s plaster or a ring plaster can be shaped and, with a dusting of antimony, inserted into the nostrils.

Let a powder of antimony be prepared with powdered myrobalanum nut, in equal weight, and rose-water added, or apply zinc oxide[4] if you have it, with powder of antimony, and this is especially effective against an ulcer of the eye.

Against a nosebleed, a bit of silk dipped in in the juice of sanguinaria[5] and powder of antimony can be inserted into the nostrils.

Let powder of antimony be prepared with the juice of mullein, and a bit of silk dipped into this may be applied for drying out hemorrhoids.

Another thing for hemorrhoids: first put on a little bit through a clyster, and after, if there is anything on the outside, dust it over top. If there is anything inside, the dust can be inserted with a reed placed in the inflated bladder. Powdered black hellebore is effective in this proven way to treat hemorrhoids, as much of it as dust of a

[1] This is probably “sapo Saracenus,” defined by Norri as a “hard grey soap, used for making suppositories.”

[2] Norri, 951: “Soft light-coloured soap”.

[3] Norri (158) remarks that “canker” was not clearly defined in medieval medicine: it could be cancer, a canker sore, or even gangrene or leprosy.

[4] The Latin here is de tutia. Tutia is tutty, or an impure oxide of zinc.

[5] This is perhaps knot-grass.

Chap. 11 (f. 187v): Concerning Acacia

Acacia, or the Shittah tree, from Alamy

Acacia is cold and dry in the third degree. Acacia is, moreover, the juice of immature little plums. It comes about thus: the little plums are collected before they are ripe, and their juice is extracted (cont.)

Folio 187r

To which we respond that, of those things which strengthen, some strengthen members by repairing only spirits, like the aromatic; some by restoring members, like food and drink; some by relaxing, like laxative medicines; some by tightening a limp member, like a plaster made of mastic; some by altering a disordered quality of an injured member, like dyaterascos[1], that is a plaster of storax placed on a stomach made weak by cold; some strengthen by purifying an overabundance which debilitates by weighing down the member, like a laxative medicine, and many other purifying agents. But gold strengthens in this way: by its harshness it cleanses what is superfluous.

[1] Norri, 299: “Plaster containing pitch, beeswax, vinegar, wine, aromatic gums.”

Chap. 4 (f. 187r) : Concerning Asafetida


            Ferula asafoetida

Asafetida is warm and dry in the fourth degree. It is of a very tall tree growing beyond the sea. It is collected in the summertime and since it is very smelly, it is called assa fetida. It may be kept without decay for a long time. It ought to be kept in a moderately dry location, as well. It has the virtue of dissolving, gathering, and of consuming, and the smellier it is, the better.

Five little pills formed solely from asafetida either offered late with egg sop, or given with syrup of violets, with a preceding purge, are of advantage to asthmatics struggling from a humid cause.

Note that any powerful solvent, whether especially dry or even emetic, should not be given to patients on their breast, unless first mixed with an ointment containing marsh mallow or butter.

Against quotidian or quartan[2] fever, however, with a preceding purge, let five scruples of asafetida be cooked in wine in an earthen vessel or a hollowed cyclamen root, and give the strained liquid with honey or sugar added to patients with quartan or quotidian fever before the hour of its onset.

A suppository made of asafetida and galbanum[3] or of asafetida and serapion[4] and sal ammoniac or of only asafetida dipped first in oil or honey or butter, lest it damage the interior, provokes menstruation in a marvelous way and brings out the afterbirth.

A salve made of asafetida and sal ammoniac, wax and honey soothes the spleen.

And it dissolves milk coagulated on/in the breasts.

Asafetida inserted into a cavity in a tooth soothes pain.

A gargle made of vinegar and water and of a decoction of asafetida and rose dries out a swollen uvula.

Against paralysis and gout of the joints and epilepsy and every fault from a cold cause take asafetida and mineral oil together, let them be melted at a fire, and in such liquid be placed the powder of a beaver’s testicle,[5] of euphorbia, of quick sulfur, and with wax added, let a wax plaster be put on the sore spot, or let an unguent be made and put on the sore spot. If epilepsy occurs from a fault of the head let it be placed about the shoulder blades and neck, and also the head. If from fault of the stomach let that part be anointed. If from a fault of the lower regions let them be anointed.

Against other sicknesses let the suffering places be anointed.

[1] Asafoetida is a plant gum from one of several types of Ferula species; the gum is dried and powdered for medicinal use. Platearius seems to think it is the product of a tree, rather than the root of a plant.

[2] Quartan fever is one recurring every third day.

[3] Galbanum is another species of Ferula, in this case Ferula galbaniflua, a giant fennel. It’s resin is still used in essential oils and pharmaceuticals.

[4] A terrestrial orchid.

[5] “Castoreum is obtained from an internal gland located near the testicles” of a beaver; see The Alphabet of Galen, p. 183, n. 1 under Castoreum.

Chap. 5 (f. 187r): Concerning Quicksilver

Quicksilver. From Wikipedia

Quicksilver is warm and moist in the 4th degree. In some books, however, it is discovered that it is cold in the 4th degree. And this is proven to be from its effect: because it dissolves, cuts, and penetrates; but since it actually cold, it is judged according to this by authorities.

For some say that quicksilver comes from a vein of earth by extraction, which is however false, since it is most readily rarefied into a fume by the action of fire. When generated in such earth, moreover, it looks like flowing water is produced. It may be kept for a long time or preserved in a solid vessel in a cool place. It has the power of dissolving, penetrating, consuming, and cleansing.

Let a meal of bitter lupine be cooked in the strongest vinegar until it is very thick and, with 5 ounces of extinct quicksilver[1] added, let the mixture be applied to the head of someone suffering from an abundance of lice, among the parts in the hair.

It is moreover “extinguished” with saliva and rubbed with ash and saliva either in the hair or on the head with the dust of cuttlefish bone and saliva, which is better. It is called “extinct” when it can be mixed with other things, for if it is not extinguished there can be no mixture of it with anything else. Note that quicksilver can’t be placed in something actually hot, since it will be evaporated into smoke, and the smoke of quicksilver is dangerous to those present, since it causes paralysis by weakening the nerves. When taken by mouth or put into the ears it kills by wasting body members.

If, however, it has been taken in the mouth, let goat’s milk be given in great quantity and the patient be kept in motion, or give wine in a decoction of hyssop and absinthe, these are the antidotes for safety.

Against scabies, mix a little vinegar with warm nut oil, but then if let litharge[2] or pulverized white lead if you have an equal quantity be boiled to the thickness of honey, and put quicksilver in this when cold and mix together, and keep it to use.

For face cloths after birth, prepare quicksilver and lead with chicken far and the face, anointed with this, will be clarified and whitened.

Or thus: take sea-snails[3], rose oil, white lead and chicken fat melted on a fire, and place the strained drink on the aforesaid; and last, mix extinguished quicksilver with ash and spit and reserve for use.


[1] “Extinct quicksilver” is defined in Latham as a mercury salt.

[2] Lead monoxide.

[3] I.e. “bellicos marinos” are alternately described as sea snails or pebbles in the shape of navels.

Chap. 6 (f. 187r): Concerning Agnus Castus

Vitex agnus-castus from Wikimedia Commons

Agnus castus[1] is warm and dry in the 4th degree. It is a shrub whose leaves are suited for medicinal purposes, and not its roots — its flowers even more. The flower is called agnus castus, yet commonly it is called marine willow by some. The (whole) plant is called agnus castus; whenever you find agnus castus by itself in a source, you may understand the flowers.[2] Agnus castus can be found in the green at every season, but more in wet places, less in dry. Its flowers are collected in spring and can be preserved for a year, no longer, in great efficacy.

But agnus castus is of the greater efficacy in the green than dried, since it renders man chaste as a lamb by repressing lust.

A bed made from it suppresses lust: the genitals can be warmed by a concoction of it and water. Let its juice be drunk, as well.

Let a pinch of beaver’s testicle be cooked in its juice and given as a drink.

Against vaginal discharge[3], let its flowers and leaves be cooked in vinegar and add beaver’s testicle if you like; this may be smeared on the genitals.

Note that some substances extinguish lust by thickening sperm, like lettuce seed, fleabane, seed of watermelon, of melon, of cucumber, of bryony, of purslane, of escarole, vinegar, verjuice, sumac, camphor, and the like.[4]

Others (work) by banishing spirits and expending the sperm, like rue, marjoram, cumin, calamint, anise. For these are warm and aperient and they dispel and relieve windiness.

Let 3 drams of fennel seed and 3 scruples of spurge be cooked in the juice of agnus castus. Give it strained in the morning with warm wine, for dropsy.

For wine in a mixture with agnus castus flower is very soothing for this.

Let agnus castus be put in oil lees so that it decays, and a decoction be made with strong wine added. With the addition of wax and oil, an unguent is made, which softens hardness of spleen when applied.

A poultice from the liquid of the matrix of agnus castus dries out discharges and constricts their source.

For stimulating menstruation, let a poultice of the liquid of this decoction and clary be made.

Against lethargy, take agnus castus and apium and sage and make a decoction in salt water, and let this be rubbed vigorously on the back of the head.

[1] Agnus castus, a shrubby small tree native to the Mediterranean, is known commonly as chasteberry or monk’s pepper. It is tolerant of salt and can be found close to the shore.

[2] I.e., as opposed to other parts of the plant.

[3] The 1939 ed. reads “gonorream” here, but the early editions have “gomoream”, inflammatory secretions from the urethra or vagina. See Norri, p. 467.

[4] Some of the plant names are in the genitive in this list: presumably their seed is meant.

Chap. 7 (f. 187r): Concerning Alum

Alum crystal, from Wikipedia

Alum is warm and dry in the fourth degree. Alum is a type of earth, according to some, but according to others, it is said to be a vein of earth[1] which, when subjected to high heat, is turned into a white color and becomes alum. It is produced especially in warm countries, and particularly in sulfurous, fiery places. That which is white, sharp, and mixed in with salt is better; that which is dirty and earthen is impure. It can be kept for a long time without corruption. It has the power of drying and of consuming most vigorously.[2]

Against canker: a powder of alum and of marine flesh[3], prepared with worms found in rich soil, is effective when applied.

A wick dipped in such a mixture soothes when placed in the opening of a fistula, or a covering of honey may be laid over a sprinkling of alum powder. But first wash the wound with vinegar.

It heals swellings of the gums when the mouth is rinsed first with vinegar, and afterwards it is rubbed with vinegar and alum. First, however, there must be an application of cupping glasses about the neck and shoulders, with scarifying.

Or thus: first scarify the back portion of the head.

Folio 188r

and afterward well-dried in the sun. Juice of this sort dried out is called acacia. It has constrictive and strengthening virtue. It can be kept for a year.

It is effective against bilious vomiting from a weakness of the power to restrain. Take acacia, mummy[1], and tragacanth or gum Arabic. Let these be blended with egg white and a plaster made on the collar bones. Or make cakes of them in a frying pan and be given, when steeped in rainwater or rose water, to drink.

The same can be done against a menstrual flux.

Against diarrhea: take acacia, hematite stone, hypoquistidos[2] and rose or rainwater. Prepare them and administer.

Against nosebleed or menstrual flux: Make a suppository of acacia and sanguinaria[3] juice for menstrual flux; tansy is added to the aforesaid.

Another: mix tansy, acacia, into plantain juice and make a suppository.

A plaster can also be made against vomiting and diarrhea from acacia, dragon’s blood,[4] mastic, rose oil, and egg white.

Against hot inflammation: acacia steeped with plantain or bindweed juice, or that of any cold herb is effective in the beginning.


[1] Mummy could be anyone of several substances prepared from mummies: powdered mummy, a bituminous substance, etc., although modern scholarship suggests that it was a mineral compound found naturally and not associated with mummies. See below, f. 202v.

[2] This is defined as “the juice of the fungus that grows at the base of the dog rose.” See Alphita, 86.

[3] Pliny remarks that “the Greeks call this polygonum,” which would make it knotweed.

[4] Defined in Alphita as “the gum of some tree growing in India and Persia.” P. 162.

Chap. 12 (f.188r): Concerning Agaric

Agaricus campestris, Field mushroom[1]

Agaric is warm in the second degree, dry in the third. Agaric is like a mushroom, and it grows around the root of the silver fir tree[2], and especially in Lombardy. There are moreover two species: one is feminine and the other masculine. The feminine sort is better and has a rounded form; when it is dried, it becomes a very pure white. The masculine type has an oblong form and is not so white. The white feminine type is light and fragile, and it has certain swellings within, and certain bits within, as though divided up. The masculine does not have these, but is continuous, and it is not so fragile or white, but its lightness can be either from its soundness or from its decay. If it is light from corruption, when it is handled by hand it is easily pulverized and the hand is left dusty from it. If it is sound, it isn’t. It can be preserved for 5 years in great efficacy. Primarily it purges phlegm, but secondarily melancholy.

Against a quotidian fever arising from natural phlegm[3]: agaric may be placed in some decoction which is given to the feverish patient with some other kinds, as with lemon grass.

Or else: after a purgation of the matter has been done, if a fever still persists, take one ounce of agaric, one ounce of fennel[4] juice, and an ounce of fumitory juice, and let them be mixed together. This may be given to the patient prior to the third hour of onset. Many have been relieved by this attempt alone.

Against an obstruction of the intestines: this works in the same way, or otherwise the patient may be given a softening clyster before and after. The clyster may be made thus: take one ounce of agaric and prepare it with oil and honey and some sort of mitigative water, like mallow water, and let this be injected by means of a clyster.

Against painful urination: take saxifrage and cook it well in wine, and strain it, and put five ounces of agaric in the strainings, and give it to the patient.

Against a fistula: take toasted salt, tartar, agaric, and when a very fine powder is made, prepare it with honey, and anoint and apply a pledget. It draws out broken bones, eats away bad flesh, and heals the fistula.

Against hemorrhoids: take the finest powder of agaric and prepare it with cyclamen juice and oil, and warm it at a fire, and it can be applied with a bit of silk dipped into it.

Against a skin disorder: take the aforesaid powder, that is toasted salt, agaric, tartar, and when the skin has been scarified, sprinkle it with the powder.

A decoction of agaric, beaver’s testicle, camel’s grass[5], senna soothes a headache arising from an abundance of phlegm. It also soothes the stomach, or if pills are made of them and mixed with fennel juice or absinthe, they work the same way.


[1] There are many species of agaric mushrooms. The Field mushroom is one that is 1. White, 2. Edible, but Platearius may well be writing about some other type, or no one in particular.

[2] This should be Abies alba.

[3] “Natural phlegm” is in contrast to “unnatural or naughty phlegm,” which arises from corruption by another humor.

[4] Ed. 1: fenum, ed. 2: foenicum, ed. 3 feniculum. Hay or fennel.

[5] Cymbopogon schoenanthus, also know as lemon grass.

Chap. 13 (f. 188r): Concerning Dill

Anethum graveolens, Dill

Dill is warm and dry in the second degree. Dill is an herb whose seed is principally suited for medicinal use, secondarily its root, and thirdly the plant; whence when dill is found in recipes, it should be known that this is the seed. It should be collected in the Spring and dried on the plant itself. It can be kept for three years with great efficacy, but it is better if it is renewed annually. Its dried root, moreover, is either of little or no use, but the plant is a diuretic.

A decoction of it is effective for painful or stopped urination; it is effective for this when given with litontropon.[1]

A syrup made from a decoction of it works for the same condition in the delicate; it may be given in the morning with sugar, with a decoction of dill.

But for children let a plaster be made about the hair of the pubes, from dill cooked in oil.

Against a pain of the uterus: two bunches of dill can be boiled in wine and plastered on, or dill sprouts can boil in wine and be made a suppository. It thus cleanses cold menstrual superfluities and draws out the afterbirth and the menses.

Against a disorder of the chest from the cold: five dried figs or four may be placed in dill juice overnight and, in the morning, a bit of wine added. Let this be well boiled and the strained liquid be administered.

Against hemorrhoids: take powdered nettle and powdered dill and prepare it with honey and rub it on the hemorrhoids. Or thus: dill, acanthus, (i) the seed of nettle, dried, pulverized and, when made into a plaster, put it on. If the hemorrhoids are flowing, apply the powder alone, for it contracts them a good deal. If the veins are not bleeding, but they appear inflated on the outside, steep the powder of dill with honey and egg white and apply it.

This is also effective against a fig-shaped hemorrhoid if it is inside the anus when made into a suppository.

A decoction of dill and mastic is effective against vomiting from a cold cause.

It also avails against hiccups arising from the same cause when placed on the nostrils, or when chewed, or cooked with meat, or drunk, for it comforts the head and the stomach.

Dill assuages severe pains and flatulence; it stops ordinary vomiting caused by food. Cooked in oil and plastered on, it stops hiccupping caused by fullness.

It provokes slumber and matures soft inflammations yet impairs the accustomed vision.

The flower of dill takes away headache when cooked in wine and applied. It also alleviates pain in struggling intestines and bellies.


[1] Norri, p. 607: “Electuary against urinary stones, containing herbs, roots, spices, and various seeds mixed with honey.”

Chap. 14 (f. 188r): Concerning Asphodel[1]

White Asphodel, from Wikimedia Commons

Asphodel is the same plant as one hundred-headed albutium,[2] It is warm and dry in the second degree. Its leaves are similar to the leaves of a leek. The root is better suited to medicine than the leaves. It is better in the green than dried. It has a diuretic force: it is effective for consuming, attracting, and drying. It is effective for the aforesaid, and in the same manner as dill, except that it is effective for sickness of the skin and alopecia in this way: take charred bees and mix a powder of them with asphodel juice, and this will be a fitting ointment against the aforesaid.

Against strangury and the stoppage of urine: in three ounces of asphodel juice, dissolve 1 ounce of powdered saxifrage and 1 ounce of gromwell and let them boil up to the consumption of two-thirds, and give the patient the strained fluid with sugar.

Against dropsy: let the mid-bark of dwarf-elder and 3 drams of dropwort [an] boil in 4 ounces of asphodel juice, and this may be given especially against white dropsy.[3]

Against an ulcer or any other affliction of the eyes: take 5 ounces of saffron and 5 ounces of myrrh and boil them in 5 pounds of good red wine and five pounds of asphodel juice up to reduction by half, and put it in the sun for many days so that it is reduced by half. It should be placed in a brazen vessel. It is marvelously effective if the eyes are daubed with such a salve.

It is also good against impetigo, as it was described for alopecia.


[1] There is a great deal of confusion about the meaning of “affodillus” in glossaries; identifications range from daffodil to garlic and sweet woodruff. Modern asphodel is a member of the Asphodelaceae.

[2] Again, this identification is circular: albutium is either asphodel or crow’s garlic; either will have a flower head or stalk composed of many flowers. Here, the 1587 ed. has the preferred reading: centum capita albutium, while the 1497 ed. reads cecum capita albutiam.

[3] Leucofleuma is “Dropsy stemming from phlegmatic humours, affecting entire body and making skin white.” Norri, 594.

Chap. 15 (f. 188r): Concerning Garlic

Garden Garlic (Allium sativum)  from Wikimedia commons

Wild garlic or scordeon (Allium vineale), from Wikimedia Commons

Garlic is warm and dry in the middle of the fourth grade. Some garlic is domestic, some is wild, that which is called scordeon. The latter, however, is less dry and warm than cultivated garlic, but we do not have a determination by how much in the authorities. It works moderately, however, whence the wild form should be used in medicinal recipes rather than the domestic, which works more violently. The former, however, does not.

We use the flowers of the wild garlic; this should be collected at the end of spring, hung in a shady place, and dried. They can be preserved with much efficacy for two years, but it is better if they are refreshed annually.

We use the heads of domestic garlic. It has the power of dissolving, consuming, and of expelling poison.

Against the bite of venomous animals: take crushed garlic and plaster it on.

Folio 190r

may be given with soft-boiled egg, or wine or with mother’s milk.

This is effective in the same way: make a depilatory out of orpiment and quicklime in this way: take 4 ounces of quicklime and dissolve it in water and boil it. Afterward, add a quarter part of an ounce of orpiment and cook it. A sign that it is done is when a quill is dipped in, and at once is extracted, it may easily be stripped.

If you wish to remove hair, it is necessary to be in a warm place and apply this depilatory to the spot. Afterwards wash with warm water, since otherwise it will strip the skin off, if it is cold or too warm. But note that they add cumin and aloe to this depilatory, so that it will not strip the skin.

Three scruples of orpiment consumed with a soft-boiled egg help the asthmatic.

Against impetigo and creeping white skin disease[3]: take 3 pounds of soft soap[4] and a third part of orpiment, blend them, make an unguent, and apply. And first clean the area with warm water, and after application, clean likewise, since if it remains there a long time, it will eat away as much good flesh as the bad. Wash 3 or 4 times <after> applying that.

So that hair will never come back again: pull it out at the root and anoint with the oil of henbane, prepared together with orpiment. The hair will never come back.

Henbane oil is made in this way: crush henbane seed with common (olive) oil, and strain it afterward. Reserve it for use.

For restoring nails: take serapinum gum and mix with it a powder of orpiment, oil, and wax and make a plaster. And place this on the nail.


[1] Orpiment is an arsenic sulfide compound commonly used for pigments and medicines despite its toxicity. The yellow form is true orpiment, while the red is also known as realgar, which becomes more yellow as it decomposes.

[2] A pipe or funnel for ingesting or inhaling medicine.

[3] Serpigo, “the creeping white skin disease here, is defined by Norri as a “Skin sickness with tendency to spread, with nonpurulent bran-like scaling, itching, and ulceration; in VigoChir Aa1vb said to involve lesions that are not round (unlike impetigo).” P. 970

[4] The Alphita refers to sapo spatarensis, as it appears here, as a soap that “cuts like a sword,” and notes that the Jews used it for washing silk. It seems to be a soft soap that is more caustic than the usual. It goes on to say that it comes from French soap or other soaps, p. 159. See also Norri, p. 1002f.

Chap. 28 (f. 190r): Concerning Asphalt

Bitumen from Wikimedia Commons

Asphalt, that is Bitumen Judaicum[1] is warm and dry in the fourth degree. It can be preserved for long time in great efficacy. It is indeed an earth which comes from overseas regions, that is from Judea and India. It is of a black color, weighty and smelly. It has the power of attracting and consolidating. Some say that it is the foam of a certain lake, that is formed and hardens, in which lake, that is, Sodom and Gomorrah perished.

But wherever it comes from, it is greatly effective for drawing wounds together, if it is pulverized and placed on a dry wound, even if the wound was long and wide.

It is also effective for an affliction of the womb, as much below as above, if it is placed on coals. And let the woman receive the smoke through the opening of the womb, if the womb presses the respiratory organs, or through the vulva with a pipe. But if the womb has collapsed below, she must take it through a pipe through the vulva. But its smoke is abominable, and it is thus that it avails.

It is also effective for purging phlegm from the head, and also for the somnolent and lethargic. Pulverize pitch with beaver’s testicle, make it into little pills with the juice of meadow rue. And when there is need, dissolve one or two in the juice of the same rue, or in wine, or <put into> the nostrils with a pessary while the sick person is lying supine.[2]

Against colic: take one ounce of bitumen and pulverize it and put it overnight in squill oxymel.[3] And in the morning, strain and clysterize it, or if you wish to make it better, mix and clysterize it in the same hour.


[1] Dioscorides refers to the pitch that was sourced from the Dead Sea as Bitumen Judaicum, or Jew’s Pitch; see

[2] Here the 1497 ed. reads “vel misce per nares cum nasale egro iacente supine,” while the 1582 ed. reads “vel iniice per nares cum nasale aegro iacente supine.” A “nascal” is defined as a pessary of wood or cotton, or even a wooden enema-pipe.

[3] Norri defines this as (p. 778): Medicinal potion made of honey, vinegar, bulbs of squill (sea onion, Scilla maritima).

Chap. 29 (f. 190r): Concerning Plantain[1]

Plantago maior, Broadleaf plantain

Plantain is cold and dry in the second degree. It is useful for drying wounds and cleaning their putridity.

It soothes the liver.

It beats back erysipelas, lest it travel around the body.

It also avails against hemorrhoids.

It cools all the burning which comes from cauterizing.

It is useful for those suffering from hemorrhoids, dysentery, or those whose menses or hemorrhoids flow.

It cures wounds of the lungs.

Its root, cooked in water, soothes toothache, if the mouth is rinsed with its water.

As Galen says, the juice of lesser plantain[2] avails against an obstruction of the kidney.

Dioscorides: it cleanses black spots, forms a scar, and especially its ground seed.

It produces blood, expels warmth, and when chewed, alleviates toothache.

For a wound near the eye or nose, its juice can be applied with wool for 9 days.

Its juice, given to those with quartan fever, is effective before 2 hours of onset.

It cures fresh wounds, with fat.[3]

Dioscorides says that the juice of lesser plantain is effective against pustules in the mouth; if it be mixed with fuller’s earth or white lead it is the best against erysipelas.


[1] Arnoglossa is Plantago maior, broadleaf plantain.

[2] Quinquenervia.

[3] Assungia in 1497 ed., axungia in 1582. Axungia is defined as “body fat surrounding kidneys and other internal organs.” Norri, 81. The meaning here is not very clear.

Translator’s note: starting here, the entries are much shorter, and the wording is sometimes problematic. It seems almost as though the author or the copyist added some entries in haste at the end of each set of chapters.

Chap. 30 (f. 190r): Concerning Oats

 Avena sativa from Wikipedia

Oat has gently relaxing powers, and for treating any tumor, it softens hardness. Therefore its flour makes a fitting plaster for fistulas in the corner of the eye.

Chap. 31 (f. 190r): Concerning Southernwood[1]

 Artemisia abrotanum from Wikipedia

Southernwood is warm in the second degree and dry in the first.

For women sitting in an infusion of it, it provokes menstruation, and draws out the afterbirth and a dead fetus.

It opens a closed uterus, if inflammations are cleansed with it. It shatters stones; releases strangury; and when imbibed, casts out roundworms and flatworms.

Its juice, mixed with myrrh and made into a pessary or poulticed on the pubes, provokes menstruation. It dries out putrid humors of the womb, and it heals its pains and the phlegmatic swellings arising in it.

When powdered and mixed with barley flour it dissolves hard swellings.

Its juice or ashes mixed with aged oil heal baldness; washed on, it helps heal those not having hair.

A compress of southernwood oil[2] takes away a feverish chill.

When drunk or plastered on, its juice cleanses or draws out blood stricken from a wound or a bruise.

Chap. 32 (f. 190r): Concerning Hazelwort

 Asarum europaeum from Wikipedia

Hazelwort is warm and dry in the third degree.

It elicits menstruation and urine from thick phlegm.

It is effective for dropsy, sciatica, and hepatics; it cleans wounds. It purges dropsy through the urine. In place of it, a pound and a half of sweet flag can be substituted.

Chap. 33 (f. 190r): Concerning Queen Anne’s Lace[3]

Ammi majus from Wikipedia

Queen Anne’s Lace is warm and dry in the third degree.

It calls forth menstruation and urine obstructed by thick phlegm.

When drunk with honey, it kills intestinal worms, tapeworm and roundworm.

It dissipates thick gassiness.

It breaks up a stone, warms the stomach, cleans out the liver, mesenteric veins, kidneys, and womb, since it purges urine and the menses.

When ground and drunk with honey, and given to drink with warm water, it cures a phlegmatic fever and reptile bites.

Used often or plastered, however, it confers a yellow color to the skin.

It cures a quartan fever.

It relieves spasms[4], it calms flatulence straightaway. Mixed for a preparation of blister beetles[5], it represses their force.

Added to honey it removes bruises. Drunk and anointed it gives a good color.[6]

Chapter 34 (f. 190r); Concerning Arum

Arum maculatum from Wikipedia

The leaves of arum, that is cuckoo’s-pint, can be eaten cooked and raw with salt; its power is in its seed, root, and leaves.

Mixed with cow-dung and plastered on, it alleviates the gout-stricken.

Its root reduces not a little, whence it is very useful for expelling moisture in the lungs.

It cures a quartan fever.

Chap. 25 (f. 190r): Concerning Myrtle seed

 Myrtus communis, from Wikipedia

“Anagalidos” is the seed of myrtle. The elixir of this seed may be mixed into an eye-salve which removes cloudiness of the eyes

Chap. 36 (f. 190r): Concerning Chervil

Anthriscus cerefolium from Wikipedia

The apium commonly called chervil is warm in the third degree and (cont.)

[1] Yet another artemisia suited for medicinal purposes.

[2] Here the 1497 ed. reads “abrotane leō” while the 1582 ed. has “abroantoleon”; the sense seems to require oil of southernwood …

[3] A number of plants have been identified as “Ameos”, the name given here in Platearius. The modern herbalist uses of Queen Anne’s Lace (Ammi majus) are closest to those listed in Platearius, however, so I have identified it as such here.

[4] Or perhaps, torments.

[5] Blister beetles, Cantharides, were used in poisons, and antidotes for the poison were common in pharmaceutical literature. But the phraseology here is obscure, and it is difficult to determine what Platearius means in this passage. In the Alphabet of Galen, 195: “They are used in a number of antidotes and several caustics, but are said to be poisonous.”

[6] Here, the gender ascribed to Ameos apparently changes from masculine to neuter.

Folio 189r

For this reason, if it is taken internally when there is compacted matter there, it renders this matter more compact by its own heaviness, and with its warmth (it works) on that which is moist in it by dissolution.[1] And thus it renders that matter less suitable for digestion. And so it works with contraries. For this reason it should not be given unless there is digested matter present so that it may dissolve the matter and expel the dissolved matter by mean of its constricting brininess.

Against worms living in the lower intestines, let the juice of absinthe be administered with powdered betony, centaurea, persicaria, or peach pits or leaves.[2]

Against an obstruction of the spleen: let its juice be given with the powder of costus.[3] This same avails against an obstruction of the liver from a cold origin.

Against an obstruction of the liver or jaundice: let its juice and endive’s be given or a syrup of these be made and given with warm water.

For stimulating the menses let its juices be used as a pessary, or let a suppository be made from it and artemisia cooked in common oil or oil of violets or or of mustellinon, which is better.

Against head pain from an affliction(?)[4] of the stomach, that is, from a corrupt humor of the stomach, let its juice be given with sugar and warm water.

Against drunkenness, let its juice be given with honey and warm water.

When apoplexy is suspected it is the supreme remedy for the loss of speech.

Against corruption from a cold humor, it may be given with vinegar and warm water, or with dittany powder.

Against choking/suffocation by fungus[5], it may be given with vinegar and warm water.

Against hardening of the spleen, absinthe cooked in oil can be plastered on; or it may be anointed with an unguent made from its juice with vinegar and ammoniac, from wax and oil in sunlight, or by softening it with the hands at a fire.

Against pain and bruising of the limbs from a blow, a plaster can be made from the juice of absinthe, powdered cumin, and honey.

Against earworms[6], let its juice be dropped in.

When drunk, its juice clarifies vision, and when placed on the eyes, it eliminates redness and ulceration[7] of the eyes.

It keeps books and clothing safe from mice, as Dioscorides and Macrobius testify.

A syrup made from it supports the stomach and the liver.

When cooked with oil and wax and oil are mixed in, it soothes the stomach as an ointment, and drives out distress.

It stimulates the appetite and wards off drunkenness and cures jaundice.

When drunk with hartwort[8] or spikenard, it alleviates distress of the stomach and intestines which arises from excessive wind and moisture.

A dusting of it plastered on dissolves hardness.

When dropped in the ears, its juice drives out moisture running from them.

When rubbed with bull’s bile and instilled into the ears, it soothes them and drives out ringing from them.

[1] The Latin in this rather confusing passage reads “eam grossitie sua compactiorem redderet suaque caliditate quod humiditatis inerat (inerrat?) dissolvendo ab ea.”

[2] Nucleorum persicorum et foliorum can be interpreted in different ways; a second possibility is walnuts and their leaves …

[3] Costus or costum is identified in various ways. The OLD defines it as “an aromatic plant, Sassurea lappa, or its root.” The species Sassurea costus is still used as a medicinal plant.

[4] This word is presented differently in all of the editions: anatumasi, enatumasi, or anathimiasi, chronologically. There is undoubtedly a corruption in the manuscript sources.

[5] Is this poisoning?

[6] Is this earwigs?

[7] Pannus oculorum is defined as a “White opaque blemish upon cornea, resulting from ocular inflammation or ulceration.”  Norri, 787.

[8] Tordylium apulum, a member of the carrot family and thus related to dill and fennel.

Chap. 20 (f. 189r): Concerning Cashew Nut[1]

Semecarpus anacardium or the marking nut or cashew of medieval apothecaries[2]

Cashews are warm in the third degree and dry in the fourth. They are, moreover, the fruit of some tree growing in India. Some say they are the little feet of an elephant, but this is false. Those that are weightier and moister are better. They can be kept for a long time, that is for 30 years, unless they are stored in too dry or too moist a place.

When consumed on their own, cashews cause leprosy or death.[3]

Against forgetfulness, let beaver’s testicle be cooked in strong vinegar, and after that put in the gum of cashew with its exterior part discarded, then let the back of the head be anointed with it, with scarring first.

Against ringworm and impetigo: prepare orpiment with cashew juice, and when the part of the sufferer has cleansed with warm water, apply this unguent. Take care it isn’t left too long, however, since this can cause too great an incision, but after removing it, wash it again with water, then apply again, and thus you may continue many times, applying and washing.

Against morphea[4]: prepare sage, absinthe, and the ground pith of bitter gourd with the juice of cashew, or this: let a decoction of those things be made with vinegar, and from these make a plaster.

The “God-given” electuary of cashew avails against forgetfulness and cures leprosy.[5]


[1] Anacardus means cashew nut in Latin, but this cannot be what we think of today as cashews (Anacardium occidentale), which are a new world crop.

[2] Semecarpus anacardium is used today in Ayurvedic medicine, but the nut is indeed poisonous unless processed. It is used as an abortifacient.

[3] Acc. to Wikipedia, the oil from marking nuts can give blisters or painful wounds, although the assertion is not sourced. “Lepra”, of course, could refer to any number of skin complaints in the M.A.

[4] Norri, p. 694: “Skin sickness involving local patches of darker or lighter colour; esp. the lighter variety is said to involve loss of body hair.”

[5] Norri, p. 1094: ”’God-given’ electuary, containing marking nut (Semecarpus anacardium), gums, spices, herbs, honey; used against sicknesses of the head due to excess or morbid humours, paleness, amenorrhea.”

Chap. 21 (f. 189r): Concerning Bitter Almond

Prunus amygdalus va. Amara, bitter almond[1]

Bitter almonds are warm and dry in the second degree. The bitter sort are suited for medicine, the sweet for eating.

Against asthma and coughing from a cold cause: bitter almonds may be ground and made into a porridge, with sugar added to suppress the bad flavor.

Against deafness: let it be ground and placed between two leaves under glowing ashes, then pressed. The oil which flows out may be dropped into the ears when something moist interferes with the hearing or when corrupt matter emerges.

Against worms: let a dish of it be made with some oil and the flour of bitter lupin, or a plaster can be made from this and applied around the navel of children.


[1] Bitter almond is superficially very similar to the sweet or edible variety, but it contains highly toxic substances (amygdalin and cyanide) which make it inedible. It is occasionally used medicinally in very small doses.

Chap. 22 (f. 189r): Concerning Aristolochia

Aristolochia clematitis, birthwort

There are different species of aristolochia, the long and the round. Each is warm and dry in the second degree, and some say dry in the third degree. The round is better suited to medicine, but the root rather than the leaves. When the root is collected in the autumn and dried, it can be kept for two years with considerable efficacy. And note that all plants whose roots are suited for medicine ought to be collected when flowers are present, since then moisture is gathered around the roots, but leaves when flowers are in bud, for then the moisture is drawn to the surface.

The leaves with the flowers have the power of digesting and expelling venom, and this may be kept for two years.

Against the bite of poisonous animals: let a powder of it be given with the juice of mint.

Its powder eats away dead flesh a little bit, whether on a wound[1] or on an ulcer. Let a wick be formed according to its depth and, when honey has been applied, let it be dusted with aristolochia powder and introduced into the wound afterwards.

For expelling a dead fetus, even a beast, let its root be cooked in wine and oil and a foment be made near the femur.

Against moist asthma: two parts of powdered aristolochia and half of gentian may be prepared with honey and such an electuary given.

Against epilepsy: aristolochia, rose, euphorbia, beavers’ testicle, and quick sulfur may be made into a decoction in parsley oil or nutmeg oil or at least olive oil, and let the spine be anointed from the neck downward.

This same powder, mixed with vinegar, also cures the skin of scabs and oozing.

Dioscorides says that a weight of aristolochia given with wine to drink avails against venom.

Likewise it soothes a bellyache.

When drunk with pepper and myrrh, it cleanses the unclean matter of childbirth and stimulates menstruation.

When drunk with water, they say that the round sort provides relief for epileptics, the gout-ridden, and those having a convulsion.

It avails for a breathing difficulty or hiccups, and it benefits those having a hardened spleen.

It cuts short a feverish chill or pain in the side if it is drunk with water.


[1] Here the 1582 edition reads “pulvere”, which seems to be a less appropriate reading than “vulnere,” as it appears in the earlier edition.

Chap. 23 (f.189r): Concerning Ambergris

Ambergris from Wikipedia

Ambergris is warm and dry in the second degree. Ambergris is said to be the sperm of a whale. Some say that it is the afterbirth, but this is false, since that is impure and has a red color. Ambergris, however, is white, and if it is found of a gray color it is better. The black is of no use. It has the power to fortify.

It may be counterfeited with a powder of lignum aloe and calamite gum[1] and dispersed with laudanum, with the addition of musk dissolved in rose water and a small amount of ambergris applied. The counterfeit can be recognized since it can be softened with the hands like wax; true ambergris cannot. It has the power of preserving and of invigorating; it can be kept for a long time.

Against fainting: make little pills of 1 scruple of ambergris, 1 scruple of lignum aloe, and 2 scruples of bone of stag’s heart; when crushed, these can be dissolved in rose water and little pills can be made thence.

Against epilepsy: put ambergris, bone of stag’s heart, and hartshorn[2] in a glass vessel, and the patient my receive its fumes through the nostrils and mouth; it is very effective.

Against suffocation: the ground product can be put likewise in a glass vessel (cont.)

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This site is under construction. Expect constant updates!

Medieval alphabetization is always more aspirational than scientific; we follow the original order of the edited versions. Unfortunately, since all of us involved are working on different parts of the text, the order may seem even more random until the project is complete.