Folio 190r

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

(Orpiment, cont.) 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.