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of the earth juice fit to nourish the tree, as those that would be trees of themselves, though there were no root; but the root being of greater strength robbeth and devoureth the nourishment, when they have drawn it: as great fishes devour little. Experiments in consort touching purging medicines.
36. THE operation of purging medicines, and the causes thereof, have been thought to be a great secret; and so, according to the slothful manner of men, it is referred to a hidden propriety, a specifical virtue, and a fourth quality, and the like shifts of ignorance. The causes of purging are divers: all plain and perspicuous ; and throughly maintained by experience. The first is, that whatsoever cannot be overcome and digested by the stomach, is by the stomach either put up by vomit, or put down to the guts; and by that motion of expulsion in the stomach and guts, other parts of the body, as the orifices of the veins, and the like, are moved to expel by consent. For nothing is more frequent than motion of consent in the body of
This surcharge of the stomach is caused either by the quality of the medicine, or by the quantity. The qualities are three : extreme bitter, as in aloes, coloquintida, etc. lothsome and of horrible taste, as in agaric, black hellebore, etc. and of secret malignity, and disagreement towards man's body, many times not appearing much in the taste, as in scammony, mechoachan, antimony, etc. And note well, that if there be
any medicine that purgeth, and hath neither of the first two manifest qualities, it is to be held suspected as a kind of poison; for that it worketh either by corrosion, or by a secret malignity, and enmity to nature; and therefore such medicines are warily to be prepared and used. The quantity of that which is taken doth also cause purging; as we see in a great quantity of new milk from the cow; yea and a great quantity of meat; for surfeits many times turn to purges, both upwards and downwards. Therefore we see generally, that the working of purging medicines cometh two or three hours after the medicines
taken ; for that the stomach first maketh a proof, whether it can concoct them. And the like happeneth after surfeits, or milk in too great quantity.
37. A SECOND cause is mordication of the orifices of the parts; especially of the mesentery veins; as it is seen, that salt, or any such thing that is sharp and biting, put into the fundament, doth provoke the part to expel; and mustard provoketh sneezing; and any sharp thing to the eyes provoketh tears. And therefore we see that almost all purgers have a kind of twitching and vellication, besides the griping which cometh of wind. And if this mordication be in an over-high degree, it is little better than the corrosion of poison; as it cometh to pass sometimes in antimony, especially if it be given to bodies not replete with humours; for where humours abound, the humours save the parts.
38. The third cause is attraction : for I do not deny, but that purging medicines have in them a direct force of attraction; as drawing plaisters have in surgery: and we see sage or betony bruised, sneezing powder, and other powders, or liquors, which the physicians call errhines, put into the nose, draw phlegm and water from the head; and so it is in apophlegmatisms and gargarisms, that draw the rheum down by the palate. And by this virtue, no doubt, some purgers draw more one humour, and some another, according to the opinion received: as rhubarb draweth choler; sena melancholy; agaric phlegm, etc. but yet, more or less, they draw promiscuously. And note also, that besides sympathy between the pu
purger and the humour, there is also another cause, why some medicines draw some humour more than another. And it is, for that some medicines work quicker than others : they that draw quick, draw only the lighter and more fluid humours; and they that draw slow, work upon the more tough and viscous humours. And therefore men must beware how they take rhubarb, and the like, alone familiarly; for it taketh only the lightest part of the humour away, and leaveth the mass of humours more obstinate. And the like may be said of wormwood, which is so much magnified.
39. The fourth cause is flatuosity; for wind stirred moveth to expel : and we find that in effect all purgers have in them a raw spirit or wind; which is the principal cause of tortion in the stomach and belly. And therefore purgers lose, most of them, the virtue, by decoction upon the fire; and for that cause are given chiefly in infusion, juice, or powder.
40. The fifth cause is compression or crushing : as when water is crushed out of a spunge: so we see that taking cold moveth looseness by contraction of the skin and outward parts; and so doth cold likewise cause rheums, and defluxions from the head ; and some astringent plaisters crush out purulent matter. This kind of operation is not found in many medicines; myrobalanes have it; and it may be the barks of peaches; for this virtue requireth an astriction; but such an astriction as is not grateful to the body; for a pleasing astriction doth rather bind in the humours than expel them : and therefore, such astriction is found in things of a harsh taste.
41. The sixth cause is lubrefaction and relaxation. As we see in medicines emollient; such as are milk, honey, mallows, lettice, mercurial, pellitory of the wall, and others. There is also a secret virtue of relaxation in cold : for the heat of the body bindeth the parts and humours together, which cold relaxeth : as it is seen in urine, blood, pottage, or the like; which, if they be cold, break and dissolve. And by this kind of relaxation, fear looseneth the belly; because the heat retiring inwards towards the heart, the guts, and other parts are relaxed; in the same manner as fear also causeth trembling in the sinews. And of this kind of purgers are some medicines made of mercury
42. The seventh cause is abstersion; which is plainly a scouring off, or incision of the more viscous humours, and making the humours more fluid; and cutting between them and the part; as is found in nitrous water, which scoureth linen cloth speedily from the foulness. But this incision must be by a sharpness, without astriction : which we find in salt, wormwood, oxymel, and the like.
43. THERE be medicines that move stools, and not urine; some other, urine, and not stools. Those that purge by stool, are such as enter not at all, or little, into the mesentery veins; but either at the first are not digestible by the stomach, and therefore move immediately downwards to the guts; or else are afterwards rejected by the mesentery veins, and so turn likewise downwards to the guts; and of these two kinds are most purgers. But those that move urine, are such as are well digested of the stomach, and well received also of the mesentery veins; so they come as far as the liver, which sendeth urine to the bladder, as the whey of blood : and those medicines being opening and piercing, do fortify the operation of the liver, in sending down the wheyey part of the blood to the reins. For medicines urinative do not work by rejection and indigestion, as solutive do.
44. THERE be divers medicines, which in greater quantity move stool, and in smaller urine: and so contrariwise, some that in greater quantity move urine, and in smaller stool. Of the former sort is rhubarb, and some others. The cause is, for that rhubarb is a medicine which the stomach in a small quantity doth digest and overcome, being not flatuous nor lothsome, and so sendeth it to the mesentery veins, and so being opening, it helpeth down urine: but in a greater quantity, the stomach cannot overcome it, and so it goeth to the guts. Pepper by some of the ancients is noted to be of the second sort; which being in small quantity, moveth wind in the stomach and guts, and so expelleth by stool; but being in greater quantity, dissipateth the wind; and itself getteth to the mesentery veins, and so to the liver and reins ; where, by heating and opening, it sendeth down urine more plentifully.
Experiments in consort touching meats and drinks
that are most nourishing. 45 We have spoken of evacuating of the body; we will now speak something of the filling of it by restoratives in consumptions and emaciating diseases. In vegetables, there is one part that is more nourishing than another; as grains and roots nourish more than the leaves ; insomuch as the order of the Foliatanes was put down by the pope, as finding leaves unable to nourish man's body. Whether there be that difference in the flesh of living creatures, is not well inquired: as whether livers, and other entrails, be not more nourishing than the outward flesh. We find that amongst the Romans, a goose's liver was a great delicacy; insomuch as they had artificial means to make it fair and great; but whether it were more nourishing appeareth not. It is certain, that marrow is more nourishing than fat. And I conceive that some decoction of bones and sinews, stamped and well strained, would be a very nourishing broth: we find also that Scotch skinck, which is a pottage of strong nourishment, is made with the knees and sinews of beef, but long boiled: jelly also, which they use for a restorative, is chiefly made of knuckles of veal. The pulp that is within the crawfish or crab, which they spice and butter, is more nourishing than the flesh of the crab or crawfish. The yolks of eggs are clearly more nourishing than the whites. So that it should seem, that the parts of living creatures that lie more inwards, nourish more than the outward flesh; except it be the brain : which the spirits prey too much upon, to leave it any great virtue of nourishment. It seemeth for the nourishing of aged men, or men in consumptions, some such thing should be devised, as should be half chylus, before it be put into the stomach.
46. Take two large capons; parboil them upon a soft fire, by the space of an hour or more, till in effect all the blood be gone. Add in the decoction the pill of a sweet lemon, or a good part of the pill of a citron, and a little mace. Cut off the shanks, and throw them away. Then with a good strong chop