Polypody and epithyme are, without all exceptions, gentle purgers of melancholy. Dioscorides will have them void phlegm; but Brassivola out of his experience averreth, that they purge this humour; they are used in decoction, infusion, &c. simple, mixed, &c.
Mirabolanes, all five kinds, are happily prescribed against melancholy and quartan agues; Brassivola speaks out "of a thousand" experiences, he gave them in pills, decoctions, &c., look for peculiar receipts in him.
Stæchas, fumitory, dodder, herb mercury, roots of capers, genista or broom, pennyroyal and half-boiled cabbage, I find in this catalogue of purgers of black choler, origan, featherfew, ammoniac salt, saltpetre. But these are very gentle; alyppus, dragon root, centaury, ditany, colutea, which Fuchsius cap. 168 and others take for senna, but most distinguish. Senna is in the middle of violent and gentle purgers downward, hot in the second degree, dry in the first. Brassivola calls it "a wonderful herb against melancholy, it scours the blood, lightens the spirits, shakes off sorrow, a most profitable medicine," as Dodonæus terms it, invented by the Arabians, and not heard of before. It is taken diverse ways, in powder, infusion, but most commonly in the infusion, with ginger, or some cordial flowers added to correct it. Actuarius commends it sodden in broth, with an old cock, or in whey, which is the common conveyor of all such things as purge black choler; or steeped in wine, which Heurnius accounts sufficient, without any farther correction.
Aloes by most is said to purge choler, but Aurelianus lib. 2. c. 6. de morb. chron. Arculanus cap. 6. in 9. Rhasis Julius Alexandrinus, consil. 185. Scoltz. Crato consil 189. Scoltz. prescribe it to this disease; as good for the stomach and to open the haemorrhoids, out of Mesue, Rhasis, Serapio, Avicenna: Menardus ep. lib. 1. epist. 1. opposeth it, aloes "doth not open the veins," or move the haemorrhoids, which Leonhartus Fuchsius paradox. lib. 1. likewise affirms; but Brassivola and Dodonæus defend Mesue out of their experience; let Valesius end the controversy.
Lapis armenus and lazuli are much magnified by Alexander lib. 1. cap. 16. Avicenna, Ætius, and Actuarius, if they be well washed, that the water be no more coloured, fifty times some say. "That good Alexander" (saith Guianerus) "puts such confidence in this one medicine, that he thought all melancholy passions might be cured by it; and I for my part have oftentimes happily used it, and was never deceived in the operation of it." The like may be said of lapis lazuli, though it be somewhat weaker than the other. Garcias ab Horto, hist. lib. 1. cap. 65. relates, that the physicians of the Moors familiarly prescribe it to all melancholy passions, and Matthiolus ep. lib. 3. brags of that happy success which he still had in the administration of it. Nicholas Meripsa puts it amongst the best remedies, sect. 1. cap. 12. in Antidotis; "and if this will not serve" (saith Rhasis) "then there remains nothing but lapis armenus and hellebore itself." Valescus and Jason Pratensis much commend pulvis hali, which is made of it. James Damascen. 2. cap. 12. Hercules de Saxonia, &c., speaks well of it. Crato will not approve this; it and both hellebores, he saith, are no better than poison. Victor Trincavelius, lib. 2. cap. 14, found it in his experience, "to be very noisome, to trouble the stomach, and hurt their bodies that take it overmuch."
Black hellebore, that most renowned plant, and famous purger of melancholy, which all antiquity so much used and admired, was first found out by Melanpodius a shepherd, as Pliny records, lib. 25. cap. 5. who, seeing it to purge his goats when they raved, practised it upon Elige and Calene, King Praetus' daughters, that ruled in Arcadia, near the fountain Clitorius, and restored them to their former health. In Hippocrates's time it was in only request, insomuch that he writ a book of it, a fragment of which remains yet. Theophrastus, Galen, Pliny, Caelius Aurelianus, as ancient as Galen, lib. 1, cap. 6. Aretus lib. 1. cap. 5. Oribasius lib. 7. collect. a famous Greek, Ætius ser. 3. cap. 112 & 113 p. Ægineta, Galen's Ape, lib. 7. cap. 4. Actuarius, Trallianus lib. 5. cap. 15. Cornelius Celsus only remaining of the old Latins, lib. 3. cap. 23, extol and admire this excellent plant; and it was generally so much esteemed of the ancients for this disease amongst the rest, that they sent all such as were crazed, or that doted, to the Anticyrae, or to Phocis in Achaia, to be purged, where this plant was in abundance to be had. In Strabo's time it was an ordinary voyage, Naviget Anticyras; a common proverb among the Greeks and Latins, to bid a dizzard or a mad man go take hellebore; as in Lucian, Menippus to Tantalus, Tantale desipis, helleboro epoto tibi opus est, eoque sane meraco, thou art out of thy little wit, O Tantalus, and must needs drink hellebore, and that without mixture. Aristophanes in Vespis, drink hellebore, &c. and Harpax in the Comedian, told Simo and Ballio, two doting fellows, that they had need to be purged with this plant. When that proud Menacrates ο Ζηυς [O Zeus], had writ an arrogant letter to Philip of Macedon, he sent back no other answer but this, Consulo tibi ut ad Anticyram te conferas, noting thereby that he was crazed, atque ellebore indigere, had much need of a good purge. Lilius Geraldus saith, that Hercules, after all his mad pranks upon his wife and children, was perfectly cured by a purge of hellebore, which an Anticyrian administered unto him. They that were sound commonly took it to quicken their wits, (as Ennis of old, Qui non nisi potus ad arma--prosiluit dicenda, and as our poets drink sack to improve their inventions (I find it so registered by Agellius lib. 17. cap. 15.) Cameades the academic, when he was to write against Zeno the stoic, purged himself with hellebore first, which Petronius puts upon Chrysippus. In such esteem it continued for many ages, till at length Mesue and some other Arabians began to reject and reprehend it, upon whose authority for many following lustres, it was much debased and quite out of request, held to be poison and no medicine; and is still oppugned to this day by Crato and some junior physicians. Their reasons are, because Aristotle l. 1. de plant. c. 3. said, henbane and hellebore were poison; and Alexander Aphrodiseus, in the preface of his problems, gave out, that (speaking of hellebore) "Quails fed on that which was poison to men." Galen. l. 6. Epid. com. 5. Text. 35. confirms as much: Constantine the emperor in his Geoponicks, attributes no other virtue to it, than to kill mice and rats, flies and mouldwarps, and so Mizaldus, Nicander of old, Gervinus, Sckenkius, and some other Neoterics that have written of poisons, speak of hellebore in a chief place. Nicholas Leonicus hath a story of Solon, that besieging, I know not what city, steeped hellebore in a spring of water, which by pipes was conveyed into the middle of the town, and so either poisoned, or else made them so feeble and weak by purging, that they were not able to bear arms. Notwithstanding all these cavils and objections, most of our late writers do much approve of it. Gariopontus lib. 1. cap. 13. Codronchus com. de helleb. Fallopius lib. de med. purg. simpl. cap. 69. et consil. 15. Trincavelii, Montanus 239. Frisemelica consil. 14. Hercules de Saxonia, so that it be opportunely given. Jacobus de Dondis, Agg. Amatus, Lucet. cent. 66. Godef. Stegius cap. 13. Hollerius, and all our herbalists subscribe. Fernelius meth. med. lib. 5. cap. 16. "confesseth it to be a terrible purge and hard to take, yet well given to strong men, and such as have able bodies." P. Forestus and Capivaccius forbid it to be taken in substance, but allow it in decoction or infusion, both which ways P. Monavius approves above all others, Epist. 231. Scoltzii, Jacchinus in 9. Rhasis, commends a receipt of his own preparing; Penottus another of his chemically prepared, Evonimus another. Hildesheim spicel. 2. de mel. hath many examples how it should be used, with diversity of receipts. Heurnius lib. 7. prax. med. cap. 14. "calls it an innocent medicine howsoever, if it be well prepared." The root of it is only in use, which may be kept many years, and by some given in substance, as by Fallopius and Brassivola amongst the rest, who brags that he was the first that restored it again to its use, and tells a story how he cured one Melatasta, a madman, that was thought to be possessed, in the Duke of Ferrara's court, with one purge of black hellebore in substance: the receipt is there to be seen; his excrements were like ink, he perfectly healed at once; Vidus Vidius, a Dutch physician, will not admit of it in substance, to whom most subscribe, but as before, in the decoction, infusion, or which is all in all, in the extract, which he prefers before the rest, and calls suave medicamentum, a sweet medicine, an easy, that may be securely given to women, children, and weaklings. Baracellus, horto geniali, terms it maximæ præstantiæ medicamentum, a medicine of great worth and note. Quercetan in his Spagir. Phar. and many others, tell wonders of the extract. Paracelsus, above all the rest, is the greatest admirer of this plant; and especially the extract, he calls it Theriacum, terrestre Balsamum, another treacle, a terrestrial balm, instar omnium, "all in all, the sole and last refuge to cure this malady, the gout, epilepsy, leprosy," &c. If this will not help, no physic in the world can but mineral, it is the upshot of all. Matthiolus laughs at those that except against it, and though some abhor it out of the authority of Mesue, and dare not adventure to prescribe it, "yet I" (saith he) "have happily used it six hundred times without offence, and communicated it to divers worthy physicians, who have given me great thanks for it." Look for receipts, dose, preparation, and other cautions concerning this simple, in him, Brassivola, Baracelsus, Codronchus, and the rest.