Folio 192v

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

(Cassia fistula, cont.) a purgation can be performed.

It has the virtue of softening and cleansing; it mitigates a fever of the blood marvelously; it purifies bile and blood, for which reason it avails in acute fevers. Cassia fistula given with water or by itself soothes the belly before purging and renders it suitable for purging. A garble of cassia fistula reduces a swelling of the throat or of the back of the mouth, if it is mixed with nightshade juice.


Chap. 5 (f. 192v): Concerning Dodder

Cucscuta epilinum, Flax dodder, from Wikipedia

Dodder is warm in the first degree and dry in the second. Dodder is a “gout”[1] of flax, moreover, because it clings around flax. It should be harvested with its flowers. It can be kept for 2 years.

It has the effect of purging melancholy, and secondarily, phlegm. Whence it is fittingly put in decoctions purging melancholy and phlegm.

The water of dodder decoction is effective against strangury and inability to urinate. If you are able to have the plant in much quantity, you can plaster it well decocted in wine and oil on the

Chap. 6 (f. 192v): Concerning Cardamom

Elettaria cardamomum from Wikipedia

Cardamom is warm and dry in the second degree. It is the fruit or rather the seed of a tree. The tree, moreover, producing fruit in springtime, makes certain tuberosities, like the seed of rue or its like, in which the seeds are enclosed. There are two types of it, that is a larger one that is called domestic and a smaller called wild, which is shaggy and whitish. The larger cardamom is better, since it is more aromatic. That which is larger should be chosen, moreover, and reddish in color, and has a bit of sharpness and sweetness mixed in. When it is used in medicine, however, the stones should be set aside, and it should be rubbed with the hands, on account of dust, and the stem discarded. It can be kept for 10 years. It has the property of strengthening from its aromaticity and of dissolving and also consuming from its qualities.

Against fainting and cardiac passion from a cold cause: a decoction of it may be prepared in fragrant wine, and give to the patient with the addition of rose water.

For weakness of the stomach and soothing the digestion: ground cardamom may be given with anise seed in food; they stimulate the appetite.

Against vomiting from a cold cause: prepare its powder with mint juice, and then food dipped in it can be given to the patient.

Prepare this ground cardamom with either fresh or dried mint in vinegar, and cooked it in salt water; a sponge dipped in it can be placed on the orifice of the stomach.

Against an illness of the head: its powder can be applied to the nostrils. If there is watery discharge, its powder can be put in nutmeg oil, and a bit of silk can be dipped in it and applied with wax (?).[2] Or its powder may be put with nutmeg oil in an eggshell above warm cinders, until it boils, and afterwards, the head can be daubed with it.

Chap. 7 (f. 192v): Concerning Cerussite[3]

Cerussite crystal from Wikipedia

Cerussite is cold and dry in the second degree. Cerussite is called “flower of lead” or “gersa” by another name. It is made thus: take squared lead sheets in the quantity of one pound, and put them over earthen vessels moderately narrow, a foot wide, that is over vessels first filled with the strongest vinegar possible. And put rods over the opening of the vessel from one edge to the other and suspend the perforated lead plates by the space of four fingers from the vinegar with string. Afterwards, cover the opening and the vessel likewise with hay or straw very well, and put it in a dark place and close the door or opening. Leave it there for 4 months. But at the end of the four months, open the mouth of the vessel so that the force of the vinegar may escape, and you will find some protuberances and excrescences all over the lead, which itself is found in less quantity than it was before. Scrape these off with a knife and put it in a large vessel; put in water and break up the lead with your feet. Afterwards, discard the water and put the substance which remains in some concave vessel and put in water. Expose this to the sun. When the water is consumed put in some more. Do this until it is as white as possible. Afterwards, drop it out of the concave vessel, whence the lead will seem round.[4]

It should be noted that those who prepare cerussite quite often suffer paralysis, apoplexy, epilepsy, and aching joints from the coldness of the vinegar, dissolving and destroying.

White lead has the property of cleansing and wiping away blemishes, for which reason women use it thus: first they wash their face, afterwards they put a little very finely powdered white lead over it.

Some do it better: since white lead is somewhat smelly, they mix white lead with rose water and expose it to the sun, especially in summer. When the rose water is consumed they take it and do this until it becomes very white and a little aromatic. Afterwards they make little tablets of it and apply them to the face.

Some, however, apply powdered borax or camphor or either and seashells, and they work better.

And note that those who use the application of white lead for a long time suffer damage to the teeth, rottenness and stench of the mouth.


[1] “Podagra.” In Greek, podagra can also mean “a trap for the feet.” Dodder is a parasitic plant, and this sort inhabits flax fields.

[2] Latin: “intingatur bombix et superponatur serre.

[3] Lead carbonate or white lead, commonly used in paint and in cosmetics.

[4] “Cup shaped” cakes of white lead were commercially available: see Cennino d’Andrea Cennini, The Craftsman’s Handbook: “Il Libro dell’Arte,” translanted by Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. (New York: Dover, 1960),.p.34.

Chap. 8 (f. 192v): Concerning Caperbush

Capparis spinosa from Wikipedia

Caper bush[1] is warm and dry in the third degree. There are those who say that it is a plant, others that it is a shrub. It grows in overseas parts, and is also found in Apulia and other regions. The bark, the root, the leaves, and the flowers are suitable for medicinal use, but especially the bark. The bark should be collected at the beginning of Spring and suspended in a shady place and dried, or even in the sun. It can be kept 6 years with efficacy. That bark should be chosen which is shattered, not pulverized, and which is a little reddish in color and a little bitter. Its flowers, moreover, should be collected when they are still nodules and not opened, since when opened they aren’t effective. They are collected and pickled with salt and vinegar. They can be kept for a year or two. They have the property of stimulating the appetite, of directing existing moisture to the orifice of the stomach; they soothe the stomach. They warm what is cold. For they are food and medicine.

Against a vice of the spleen or hardening of the liver, wine of a decoction of caper is effective.

Make this unguent which is very powerful as well, and not less effective than agrippa[2]: powdered caper in a large quantity may be prepared with the juice of black nightshade; afterward, with wine and oil added, a decoction may be made up to thickness, and with a little wax added, made into an ointment.

An electuary which is called diacapparis[3] is especially effective as well, and no less than this.[4] Take 2 ounces of ground caper bark and 1 ounce of the bark of tamarisk root, prepare it with honey and with a decoction of tamarisk root.

The juice of caper bush leaves dripped into the ears kills worms. Or ground bark may be colled in oil, strained, and poured into the ears. It not only kills worms but also alleviates deafness and ulcerations of the ears.

For roundworms, ground caper bush prepared with honey can be given to the patient.

Against new lumps: give water from the decoction of caper-root bark, butcher’s broom, and asparagus.

Likewise, let them be anointed with this ointment: take serpent eel[5] and cut off the head and tail for a length of 4 fingers. Then put it in a jar with minute perforations, and that jar be placed in something whole, so that the base of the perforated jar is in the mouth of the other jar. Afterwards it may be put in a bath filled with water and boiled for a long time, so that the eel is broken down from the heat, whose fat flowing into the bottom jar is preserved unconsumed by the moisture of the water. From this fat and ground black hellebore and ground caper root, let an ointment be made, with which ointment the new lumps can be anointed frequently. The patient suffering such a disorder may also use the aforesaid water, and it is quite effective.

For painful intestinal obstruction and painful joints, take a pound of ground caper bark and cook it in the juice of elderberry root bark, and add sugar, and a syrup results


[1] Platearius offers two spellings: Capparus and capparis.

[2] Norri, p. 33f: agrippa was an “ointment said to have been used Jewish King Herod Agrippa … made by soaking various roots in oil of mastic, extracting mucilage, and adding beeswax; used e.g. for swellings.”

[3] Norri, p. 282, defines this simply as an electuary containing capers.

[4] Latin: valet enim electuarium maxime ad idem quod dicitur dyacapparis et non minus hoc electuarium quod …

[5] Latin: Rufus serpens.