Folio 187v

Credit: Serapio, Senior: Practica Io. Serapionis dicta breuiarium, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

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.

AKG


[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 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 starchinfood.eu.

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.)