Folio 192r

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

(Cyclamen, cont.) extracted with forceps. The powder corrodes the excess flesh.

To treat a polyp, the powder is dusted on a stylus[10] and inserted into the nostrils.[11]


[1] There are 23 species of cyclamen, most from Europe, the eastern Mediterranean, and the Middle East. They are tuberous plants, hence the designation “earth apple.” Panis porcinus, or “sowbread,” is also a common nickname.

[2] ‘alio nomine appellat’ in older ed.

[3] ‘end of autumn’ older ed.

[4] plus ‘consumendi’ in old ed.

[5] “in the measured amount through an enema” (in modica quantitate per clisteri) in old ed.

[6] “Electuary used as an emmenagogue, diaphoretic, and soporific; also against uterine and stomach disorders; contains many herbs (e.g. mandrake, henbane), juice of opium poppy, and spices, all mixed with honey.”  Norri, p. 1118. See under Resources.

[7] older ed. ‘imposito pomo’; ‘39 ed. ‘in ipso pomo’

[8] This passage is at the end of the section in the Wölfel text, but placed more sensibly in the older manuscript after the description of the ointment.

[9] This section is absent in older text.

[10] Both editions have ‘stuellam’; Wolfel suggests ‘stylum’, and the French trans. uses ‘tuel’ (‘pipe’). Norri (p.1046): “roll or pledget inserted into wound or sore, usually of absorbent material.”

[11] Latin ‘naribus’; specifically a nasal polyp, or used more widely to refer to an opening?

Chap. 2 (f. 192r): Concerning Camphor

Camphora officinarum, from Wikipedia

  Camphor is cold and dry in the fourth degree. Some say that it is a gum, which is silly. It is, however, the juice of an herb, as Dioscorides and many others say. But that which is called “camphorata” is very like our camphorata[1], only more aromatic. This plant is collected at the end of spring and crushed, and its juice is extracted. Afterwards, that which is impure should settle and be discarded; the more liquid part, which is pure, is retained, exposed to the sun, and dried. It has the power of constricting, cooling, and wiping away. Dried, it is indeed reduced to the substance of camphor. It is especially counterfeited in its preparation, from an admixture of powder or some other juice, and thus a doubled or tripled quantity of camphor is produced. Juniper gum is like camphor in substance.

That which is pure, white, and shiny should be chosen; the impure is indeed not as good. That which is yellowish is not as good. It can be counterfeited with an admixture of gum, for instance, juniper gum, among the bits of camphor.[2] For juniper gum is similar in appearance to camphor, and it is similar in odor when it is mixed in. But it can be detected, since juniper gum is solid and is broken up with difficulty, but camphor is readily broken up, and if it is manipulated with the hands, it is quickly pulverized. And note that if it is not skillfully preserved, it is easily ruined, for it is aromatic and every aromatic vapor is swiftly dispersed. However, it can be kept in a marble vessel, or better, preserved in alabaster in psyllium or flax seed for 40 years.

Against gomorhea,[3] that is, the involuntary effusion of sperm, powdered camphor with the gelatinous liquid of psyllium, or with verjuice or the juice of black nightshade, and a moistened pledget may be placed on the pubic region, the kidneys, and on the pubes.

Against diabetes, do the same thing and put a lead plate on top.

Against heating of the liver, let camphor powder be prepared with nightshade juice. A pledget dipped in this may be placed on the liver frequently.

Against a flow of blood from the nostrils, make medallions of powdered camphor and the powder of burnt nettle seed, and mixed with sanguinaria juice, these can be placed in the nostrils. If, however, the flow of blood arises from the morbid heating of the blood or from the liver, let the camphor powder be prepared with cold water and place the moistened pledget on the forehead and the sides of the neck.[4]

This is the method against a spot on the eye: let camphor powder be prepared with rose water and add fennel juice. It can be put in a bronze vessel and the eye can be anointed with it.

Against a blemish of the face and for purifying the face: it can be mixed with rose water, with white, clean honey added.

Against lust: let camphor be sniffed by the nostrils, for it restores spirits loosened too much by the action of heat, by cooling the body; it thickens sperm, and suppresses lust accordingly. “Camphora per nares castrat odore mares.” (Camphor through the nose castrates men with its odor.)

Note that it is properly enough put in in syrups against acute illnesses. And note that in phrenesis[5] it is used properly enough to stimulate sneezing, if its powder is tempered with rose oil, and a feather dipped in it anoints the nostrils, and also in other acute fevers, since it doesn’t increase heat nor assist the morbid fluid – just as if the sneezing happens with hellebore, pepper, or pyrethrum.

Likewise, it is effective for redness or burning or pain of the eyes.


[1] Southernwood, a species of Artemisia, was known as camforata; see Hunt, 64.

[2] When camphor is prepared, it looks like this; illustration from

[3] This is defined as the “discharge of inflammatory secretion (thought to be male or female sperm) from urethra or vagina. Norri, 467.

[4] The Latin reads “timporibus gule.”

[5] Phrenesis was an illness caused by corrupt choler in the brain, see Norri, 819. Presumably sneezing dispelled the humor causing the illness.

Chap. 3 (f. 192r): Concerning Colocynth

Citrullus colocynthus from WebMD. Bitter apple, Citrullus, colocynthis is an annual plant with a whitish root and downcast, angular and bristly stalks.

 Colocynth is warm in the third degree and dry in the second. Colocynth is the fruit of some tree or shrub graoing in transmarine parts around the area of Jerusalem. It is called Alexandrine gourd by another name. Note that colocynth is as much the name of the fruit as the shrub. That which is found alone is lethal, like the squill which is found alone, as Dioscorides tells us and also Constantinus. It has a pith, seed and rind, but the pith is most effective for the purpose of medicine. Second is the seed, but the rind has no efficacy, or just a little. Whence if they are found on receipt the seeds should be placed with the pith. The colocynth that should be chosen is that which has an unbroken, white pith with many seeds in it. That which should be rejected makes a hollow sound when struck. Whether, moreover, they are found with seeds or without seeds, if they are easily pulverized when handled with hands, they should be discarded. It is possible to keep them for six years, and better inside the fruit. It has the power of dissolving, and of consuming from its bitterness, also a diuretic power. It principally purges phlegm, secondarily, melancholy.

It is of use thus against a quotidian fever: take 1 ounce of colocynth with 2 or 3 ounces of elderberry juice and cook it inside the rind of the colocynth. Let sugar be added to the strainings, and then give it late in the day to the patient before the hour of onset, with preceding digestives and pugatives, however. This ought to be done if the onset persists after purgation.

Against a quartan fever and scabies, there is such a use: water of a decoction of senna be put into the colocynth rind, with 1 ounce of colocynth added, and let it be decocted; let sugar be added to the strainings and given to the patient before the onset, with a digestive preceding as above.

It is effective in this way for the most persistent scabies.

Against toothache: a gargle can be made from vinegar of a decoction of the insides of the colocynth.

Against intestinal worms: colocynth powder mixed with honey can be given to the patient.

For children, a plaster of powdered colocynth and absinthe juice can be placed around the belly-button.

For earworms, its powder mixed with persicaria juice can be inserted.

Against hardening of the spleen and liver: fennel juice decocted with colocynth pith can be administered, or even the powder with its own juice.

For cleansing the womb and stimulating the menses, let a foment be made with the water of a colocynth decoction.

Powdered colocynth along with some oil can be decocted in the rind, and a bit of silk dipped in it may be used as a suppository.

For hemorrhoids, let nut oil be cooked in a colocynth fruit, and a bit of silk dipped in it, and the patient may aply it to himself frequently.


Chap. 4 (f. 192r): Concerning Cassia fistula

Cassia fistula, the Golden Shower tree, from the New York Botanical Gardens

 Cassia fistula is warm and moist, not in any grade, since it is temperate below every grade, sice it departs little from ideal temperance. It is the fruit of a certain tree, which produces long seeds, as it were. Afterwards, over the passage of time, they are elongated and fattened. The exteriors are thickened into bark by the action of warmth, while in the medulla inside 30 or 40 [seeds] are found clinging to it in one container. That which is thick should be chosen, since that demonstrates much moisture, which demonstrates maturity, and which when shaken does not make a sound within. That which makes a little noise has moisture and seeds that have separated from the medulla. It can be kept for two years, moreover.

And it should be noted that when cassia fistula is found in a recipe devised by authorities 2 or 3 ounces should be out; the medulla without seeds if you can. But since apothecaries are not patient, seeds are used, so that if medicine must be made or a syrup in which cassia fistula must be dissolved, do not boil with it; but let it be broken up in hot or very warm water with your hands, to the point that it is completely dissolved. Afterwards, the seeds may be discarded with the casing(?)[1]. And so a medicine can be made with it. When it is found in decoctions, 2 ounces should be weighed our with its shell, and afterwards, its medulla may be broken up in hot water with the seeds cast aside, and then put in powdered rhubarb or myrobalan or something by means of which a purgation can be performed. (cont.)

[1] “Catia.”