Alteratives, Herbs, other Vegetables, &c.

Alteratives, Herbs, other Vegetables, &c.

     Amongst these 800 simples, which Galeottus reckons up, lib. 3. de promisc. doctor. cap. 3, and many exquisite herbalists have written of, these few following alone I find appropriated to this humour: of which some be alteratives; "which by a secret force," saith Renodeus, "and special quality expel future diseases, perfectly cure those which are, and many such incurable effects." This is as well observed in other plants, stones, minerals, and creatures, as in herbs, in other maladies as in this. How many things are related of a man's skull? What several virtues of corns in a horse-leg, of a wolf's liver, &c. Of diverse excrements of beasts, all good against several diseases? What extraordinary virtues are ascribed unto plants? Satyrium et eruca penem erigunt, vitex et nymphea semen extinguunt, some herbs provoke lust, some again, as agnus castus, water-lily, quite extinguisheth seed; poppy causeth sleep, cabbage resisteth drunkenness, &c., and that which is more to be admired, that such and such plants should have a peculiar virtue to such particular parts, as to the head aniseeds, foalfoot, betony, calamint, eye-bright, lavender, bays, roses, rue, sage, marjoram, peony, &c. For the lungs calamint, liquorice, ennula campana, hyssop, horehound, water germander, &c. For the heart, borage, bugloss, saffron, balm, basil, rosemary, violet, roses, &c. For the stomach, wormwood, mints, betony, balm, centaury, sorrel, purslain. For the liver, darthspine or camæpitis, germander, agrimony, fennel, endive, succory, liverwort, barberries. For the spleen, maidenhair, finger-fern, dodder of thyme, hop, the rind of ash, betony. For the kidneys, grumel, parsley, saxifrage, plaintain, mallow. For the womb, mugwort, pennyroyal, fetherfew, savine, &c. For the joints, camomile, St. John's wort, organ, rue, cowslips, centaury the less, &c. And so to peculiar diseases. To this of melancholy you shall find a catalogue of herbs proper, and that in every part. See more in Wecker, Renodeus, Heurnius lib. 2. cap. 19. &c. I will briefly speak of them, as first of alteratives, which Galen, in his third book of diseased parts, prefers before diminutives, and Trallianus brags, that he hath done more cures on melancholy men by moistening, than by purging of them.

     Borage.] In this catalogue, borage and bugloss may challenge the chiefest place, whether in substance, juice, roots, seeds, flowers, leaves, decoctions, distilled waters, extracts, oils, &c., for such kind of herbs be diversely varied. Bugloss is hot and moist, and therefore worthily reckoned up amongst those herbs which expel melancholy, and exhilarate the heart, Galen, lib. 6. cap. 80. de simpl. med. Dioscorides, lib. 4. cap. 123. Pliny much magnifies this plant. It may be diversely used; as in broth, in wine, in conserves, syrups, &c. It is an excellent cordial, and against this malady most frequently prescribed; a herb indeed of such sovereignty, that as Diodorus, lib. 7. bibl. Plinius, lib. 25. cap. 2. et lib. 21. cap. 22. Plutarch, sympos. lib. 1. cap. 1. Dioscorides, lib. 5. cap. 40. Caelius, lib. 19. c. 3. suppose it was that famous Nepenthes of Homer, which Polydaenna, Thonis's wife (then king of Thebes in Egypt), sent Helena for a token, of such rare virtue, "that if taken steeped in wine, if wife and children, father and mother, brother and sister, and all thy dearest friends should die before thy face, thou couldst not grieve or shed a tear for them."

"Qui semel id patera mistum Nepenthes Iaccho
Hauserit, hic lachrymam, non si suavissima proles,
Si germanus ei charus, materque paterque
Oppetat, ante oculos ferro confossus atroci."

     Helena's commended bowl to exhilarate the heart, had no other ingredient, as most of our critics conjecture, than this of borage.

     Balm.] Melissa balm hath an admirable virtue to alter melancholy, be it steeped in our ordinary drink, extracted, or otherwise taken. Cardan, lib. 8. much admires this herb. It heats and dries, saith Heurnius, in the second degree, with a wonderful virtue comforts the heart, and purgeth all melancholy vapours from the spirits, Matthiol. in lib. 3. cap. 10. in Dioscoridem. Besides they ascribe other virtues to it, "as to help concoction, to cleanse the brain, expel all careful thoughts, and anxious imaginations:" the same words in effect are in Avicenna, Pliny, Simon Sethi, Fuchsius, Leobel, Delacampius, and every herbalist. Nothing better for him that is melancholy than to steep this and borage in his ordinary drink.

     Mathiolus, in his fifth book of Medicinal Epistles, reckons up scorzonera, "not against poison only, falling sickness, and such as are vertiginous, but to this malady; the root of it taken by itself expels sorrow, causeth mirth and lightness of heart."

     Antonius Musa, that renowned physician to Caesar Augustus, in his book which he writ of the virtues of betony, cap. 6. wonderfully commends that herb, animas hominum et corpora custodit, securas de metu reddit, it preserves both body and mind, from fears, cares, griefs; cures falling sickness, this and many other diseases, to whom Galen subscribes, lib. 7. simp. med. Dioscorides, lib. 4. cap. 1. &c.

     Marigold is much approved against melancholy, and often used therefore in our ordinary broth, as good against this and many other diseases.

     Hop.] Lupulus, hop, is a sovereign remedy; Fuchsius, cap. 58. Plant. hist. much extols it; "it purgeth all choler, and purifies the blood." Matthiol. cap. 140. in 4. Dioscor. wonders the physicians of his time made no more use of it, because it rarefies and cleanseth: we use it to this purpose in our ordinary beer, which before was thick and fulsome.

     Wormwood, centaury, pennyroyal, are likewise magnified and much prescribed (as I shall after show), especially in hypochondriac melancholy, daily to be used, sod in whey: and as Ruffus Ephesias, Areteus relate, by breaking wind, helping concoction, many melancholy men have been cured with the frequent use of them alone.

     And because the spleen and blood are often misaffected in melancholy, I may not omit endive, succory, dandelion, fumitory, &c., which cleanse the blood, Scolopendria, cuscuta, ceterache, mugwort, liverwort, ash, tamarisk, genist, maidenhair, &c., which must help and ease the spleen.

     To these I may add roses, violets, capers, featherfew, scordium, staechas, rosemary, ros solis, saffron, ochyme, sweet apples, wine, tobacco, sanders, &c. That Peruvian chamico, monstrosa facultate &c., Linshcosteus Datura; and to such as are cold, the decoction of guiacum, China sarsaparilla, sassafras, the flowers of carduus benedictus, which I find much used by Montanus in his Consultations, Julius Alexandrinus, Lelius, Egubinus, and others. Bernardus Penottus prefers his herba solis, or Dutch sindaw, before all the rest in this disease, "and will admit of no herb upon the earth to be comparable to it." It excels Homer's moly, cures this, falling sickness, and almost all other infirmities. The same Penottus speaks of an excellent balm out of Aponensis, which, taken to the quantity of three drops in a cup of wine, "will cause a sudden alteration, drive away dumps, and cheer up the heart." Ant. Guianerius, in his Antidotary, hath many such. Jacobus de Dondis the aggregator, repeats ambergris, nutmegs, and allspice amongst the rest. But that cannot be general. Amber and spice will make a hot brain mad, good for cold and moist. Garcias ab Horto hath many Indian plants, whose virtues he much magnifies in this disease. Lemnius, instit. cap. 58. admires rue, and commends it to have excellent virtue, "to expel vain imaginations, devils, and to ease afflicted souls." Other things are much magnified by writers, as an old cock, a ram's head, a wolf's heart borne or eaten, which Mercurialis approves; Prosper Altinus the water of Nilus; Gomesius all seawater, and at seasonable times to be seasick: goat's milk, whey, &c.


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