Folio 191v

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

Chap. 9 (f. 191v): Concerning Bear’s Breeches

Acanthus mollis, from Wikimedia

Bear’s breeches is warm and moist in the first degree. It has the power of softening, maturing[1], and soothing.

It is useful against a swelling from a cold cause; its use is in this way: its leaves may be ground together with old lard and put on the swelling.

Against a swelling of the lungs, let it be cooked in water, after it has been ground, and applied.

Against a complaint of the spleen and dryness of the sinews: make an ointment from bear’s breeches, ground and macerated for a long time in oil, add wax to the strained liquid and make an ointment against the aforesaid.

Note that young leaves should be used in unguents and plasters.

Chap. 10 (f. 191v): Concerning Barberry

Berberis vulgaris from Wikimedia

Barberries are cold and dry in the second degree. They are the fruit of some tree, moreover, a little bit oblong and somewhat dark in color. The ones chosen for use should be whole and not broken open.

They are effective against feverish imbalance of the humors. Make a decoction of them in water for the infirm, and with sugar added to the strained liquid a syrup can be made.

Against a heating of the liver, its powder can be mixed with nightshade juice and applied to the liver.

Against a headache from a warm cause: let them be macerated overnight in water, and given to drink in the morning.

Note that they may be kept for 7 years.

Chap. 11 (f. 191v): Concerning Belliculi Marini[2]

Belliculi marini are cold and dry, but to what degree is not specified by authors. They are like navels, and they are found around the seashore.

They are put in lotions for clarifying the face, as in citrine ointment.

There is also such a use of them for the face: let a very fine powder of them be mixed with chicken fat, melted first, and made into an ointment.

And note that they can be kept a long time, like pebbles.

Chap. 12 (f. 191v): Concerning Bistort

Bistort officinalis from Wikipedia

Bistort is cold and dry, but to what degree is not specified by authors; but from its brininess, it can be conjectured that it is cold and dry in the third degree. It has the power of closing, of constricting,[3] of invigorating a pregnancy.

Against vomiting from choleric heat: a powder of it may be prepared with egg white and cooked over a tile and given to the patient.

Against dysentery, it can be given with plantain juice.

For checking or stopping menstruation: a foment from rainwater and a decoction of powdered bistort can be made.

For aiding conception, let an electuary of powdered bistort in the quantity of half a pound and the same quantity of aromatic spices be made. Make the aforesaid foment, for bistort assists conception, since it invigorates the retentive power of the womb.

Powdered bistort binds and glues together wounds.

And note that bistort is a plant whose root is also called bistort, and it is twisted and similar to galingale, but it does not have the sharpness.

Chap. 13 (f. 191v): Concerning Bdellium[4]

Bdellium from Wikipedia

Bdellium is warm in the second degree and moist in the first. It is the gum of some tree which is found in overseas regions. But some say that that which is found is like the follicle which grows on an elm tree.[5] But wherever it comes from, it has a gluey substance. It has the effect of constricting and attracting.

It fights against dysentery caused by a sharp medicine.

It heals swellings joined internally and externally; shatters stones; alleviates a cough; and cures reptile bites.

Steeped with vinegar and sap, it heals swellings of the testicles.


[1] Maturing is promoting the formation of pus.

[2] Identified in the Alphita as well as shells or stones resembling the navel, found on seashores, or some kind of sea snail. P. 22.

[3] The power of consolidating is the power of closing a wound, while the power of constricting refers to stopping a flow of blood or other fluid.

[4] Bdellium is a resin from species of Commiphora trees found in India and Africa.

[5] In Latin: “Sed quidam dicunt quod sit illud quod reperitur quoddam rotundum simile foliculo, quod in arbore ulme fit.”

  1. De ciclamine         Cyclamen
  2.   De camphora        Camphor
  3.   De coloquintida   Colocynth
  4.   De cassia fistula   Cassia fistula
  5.   De cuscute             Dodder
  6.   De cardamome     Cardamom
  7.   De cerusa               White lead
  8.   De capparo            Caper
  9.   De calamento        Calamint
  10.   De centaurea         Centaury
  11.   De cassia lignea    Cassia wood
  12.   De castoreo            Beaver’s testicle
  13.   De cubebe              Cubeb
  14. De capillis veneris   Maidenhair Fern
  15. De cipresso             Cypress
  16. De cinamomo         Cinammon
  17. De camedreos        Germander
  18. De camephitheos     Ground-pine
  19. De carui                   Caraway
  20. De cimino               Cumin
  21. De croco                  Saffron
  22. De cicuta                 Hemlock
  23. De cipero                 Galingale
  24. De calamo aromatico      Sweet rush
  25. De corallo                Coral
  26. De cataputia           Caper spurge
  27. De cretano               (Seaweed?)
  28. De costo                  Costus root
  29. De cantabro           Wheat bran
  30. De colofonia          Greek tar
  31. De cucurbita           Gourd
  32. De celidonia           Celandine
  33. De coriandro          Coriander
  34. De celtica                Spikenard
  35. De calce                   Lime
  36. De cepis                  Onion

Chap. 1 (f. 191v): Concerning Cyclamen

Ivy-leaved Cyclamen. A photo of an original antique illustration by John Sowerby published in 1860s in The English Botany.

Cyclamen is hot and dry in the third grade. It is also called cassamus, panis porcinus, and malum terre[2]. The root of this specific plant is also called cyclamen. It has certain bumps, the greater number of large ones, the better. Both the young and dried forms have great potency, but the younger is more potent. It should be collected in autumn[3], divided into four sections, and hung by a cord in a dark place or with little sunlight. It can be preserved for three years keeping great potency. Its strength is in dissolving and attracting.[4]

One of its uses is for swollen hemorrhoids which have no blood flow and which are visible on the surface. It is dusted on as a powder. Or, it can be rubbed on from its dried form; afterward, the powder of black hellebore and rose is dusted on. If the hemorrhoids are internal, it is inserted as a suppository in its aforementioned powdered form by way of an enema.[5] After the powder is put into the enema, air from the inflated bladder of a pig (or similar) pushes it inside.

A certain Salernian woman showed that it is useful for all piles and hemorrhoids, inducing menstruation, and cleaning the uterus. Mix trifera magna[6] in musk oil or common oil, and bring to a boil with cyclamen on a fire; soak cotton in the mixture, and it becomes a suppository. To treat constipation caused by glossy phlegm, juice of the root mixed with common oil is boiled in/with the fruit[7]. Cotton soaked in the mixture is then applied on top.

To treat an ailment of the spleen, a great amount of malum terre, cleaned and crushed, is steeped in wine and oil for 15 days. To the strained malum terre a bit of vinegar and wax are added. Let it simmer until it is thick, with all the added ingredients softened. It is effective as an ointment from either its liquid or powdered form. If the liquid form is not present, mix the powder with oil and wax. It is an oft-proven type of ointment if rubbed on the afflicted area.

[Salernian women[8], on the final Thursday of a waning moon, take cyclamen and put it over their spleen. They then cut it into three parts, saying three times “what are you cutting?”, and enduringly responding “the spleen”. After, they hang it to dry, saying “just as the parts of this cyclamen are dried out and extinguished, so is the spleen”. Afterward, it is mixed into the previously described ointment.]

To treat an abscess caused by the cold which cannot be ruptured because of the thickness of the skin, the fruit itself is crushed and boiled in oil. It is applied while hot, and it will purge the abscess either from the interior or exterior.

To treat a fistula[9], a probe made from the root is inserted. It enlarges the opening, and if the opening is somewhat within, draws it out, and can be better (cont.)