Chap. 11. Of the Virtues of Medicines.
I. That some Plants Heat, some Cool, and some Dry, and some Moisten, and some manifest; and this is from their First Qualities, which are found out, first by their Taste. Secondly, by their Smell. Thirdly, by their Operations, or Effects. Fourthly, by Experience.
II. That some Plants open Obstructions, and some stop, as in Catarrhs and Fluxes of Blood; some Bind, and some Relax; some Attract, and some Repercuss; some Maturate, and some Absterge, &c. These Virtues, which are their Second Qualities, they draw from their First Qualities, but are more perfectly known and found out by Experience, and a continued Series of Observations.
III. That the Appropriation of Medicaments to the several principal Parts of the Body, has been found out Partly by their Signatures, and Partly by Experience, and sometime by both of them together: And so this Appropriation of them to the Head and Brain, Nerves, Stomach, Lungs, Pleura, Heart, Liver, Spleen, Mesentery, Veins, Womb, and Joints, is called their Third Qualities.
IV. Now if a Plant is hot and dry, it naturally follows, that it must resist and be helpful against Diseases, proceeding from cold and moisture:
So also if a Plant is cold and moist, it must resist and be helpful against Diseases proceeding from heat and dryness:
The same may be said of Plants hot and moist, or cold and dry, which doubtless resist, and are helpful against Diseases proceeding from the opposite Qualities.
V. This being said, if we consider what Diseases afflict those principal Parts of the Body, and from what Causes they proceed; it follows that those Plants, which are endowed with those First Qualities, and withall are in the predicament of the Third Qualities, must generally resist and be auxiliaries in the Curing those Distempers, afflicting those particular Parts; and therefore in giving you the Virtues of the Medicament, though there are in almost every Plant, and in the Variety of their Preparations, a great number of Diseases enumerated, against which they be Good or Helpful, yet we do not intend thereby, that they are Specificks, and absolute Cures for all the Diseases there named, but chiefly helpful against the same; and in Compositions framed against such Maladies, may as a Vis duplicata, add to their Force and Effects.
VI. As for example, take Angelica, Lavender or any other Plants, which are hot and dry in the second, third, or fourth degrees, as to their First Qualities; and withall are appropriated to the Head, Brain and Nerves: We say that those Plants and their Preparations, are good for and helpful against all the Diseases of those Parts, proceeding from cold and moisture, and accordingly we enumerate them, as Catarrhs or Defluxions, Megrims, Vertigo's, Apoplexies, Epilepsies, Lethargies, Carus, Coma, Palsies, Cramps, Defluxions into the Eyes and Nose, heaviness of the Head, weakness of the extream Parts, thro' the hurts of the Nerves, &c. more especially if the Habit of the Body be cold and moist too. These and other like Diseases of those Parts, proceeding from a cold and moist Cause, we say, these and the like Plants are proper for, and helpful in their Cure, though we do not say they will absolutely do the Work: And yet a great deal is to be said, if Alteratives be given in a full Dose, assiduously used, not by fits and girds, and continued for a good length of time; for so Nature acts in conjunction with the Medicine, and the Cure is performed and perfected at length, which otherwise could not be either expected or hoped for.
VII. Again, those Plants which are in the Fourth Qualities of Medicines, are Abstractives, which abstract or take away all superfluous Humours, Recrements, and Excrements out of the Body, its Ventricles, or principal Viscera, and Vessels, which are Emeticks, Catharticks, Salivaticks, Ptarmicks, Emmenagogicks, Diureticks, Lithontripticks, and Sudorificks, and these are said to be Curative, at least helpful in curing all Diseases of Repletion.
VIII. The kind of the Abstractive is to be chosen, according to the site of the Part, or Parts afflicted; and nature of the Diseases afflicting. So if it be the Head, stuft with pituitous, cold and moist Humours, Ptarmicks are to be chosen: If the Stomach, by Surfeits, Fulness, Obstructions, sharp Humours, &c. then Emeticks. If the Entrails, with sharp Humours, Colicks, Worms, &c. then Catharticks. If all the Juices of the Body are contaminated, as in the French Disease, Leprosie, Leuce, Elephantitis, &c. then Salivaticks. If the Womb be obstructed, or the courses stopt, then Emmenagogicks. If there be a repletion of Urine, thro' an Obstruction of the Reins, and Urinary Vessels, then Diureticks. If Gravel, Stones, &c. in Reins or Bladder, then Lithontripticks. If Universal Obstructions over the whole Body, with a repletion of Watery Humours, as in Dropsies, then Catharticks first, and Sudorificks afterwards.
IX. And so the Diseases proceeding from Repletion, are enumerated according to the Part or Parts afflicted; and accordingly the proper Abstractives are applied, which taking away the superfluous Humours, or Recrements, causing, or some ways contributing to those Diseases; those particular Medicaments according to their Kind, are said to cure, or be helpful, or contributory to the removal or Cure of those Diseases.
X. Those Herbs, or Plants, which add something to the Body, or its principal Parts, are in the Fifth Qualities of Medicines, and are Adductives, and said to cure, or be helpful in curing, all Diseases of Ablation, viz. such Distempers as are caused from the want of some Nourishment, Juices, or Humours, in order to the conservation of the whole Body, or of some particular and respective Parts: And so they are said to be Chylificks, Analepticks, Galactogeneticks, Spermatogeneticks, and Alexipharmicks; that is to say, to cure, or to be helpful in curing, all Diseases and Weaknesses, caused by a deficiency of what Nature requires, for preservation of the Body and its Principal.
XI. And therefore the Kind of the Adductive is to be chosen, according to the nature of the Matter deficient, the Parts affected and the approaching Evils to be feared: So if the Tone of the Stomach is hurt, that it cannot breed good Chylus, whereby an Atrophy or Pining may be feared, Chylifics are to be administered, which are withall Stomachick, or Stomachicks are to be added to them. If a grand Wasting of the Flesh be, as in a Phthisis, or deep Consumption, Analepticks are of use. If a deficiency of Milk, then Galactogeneticks. If a deficiency of Seed, then Spermatogeneticks. If Poison be taken, then the Vital Powers are to be strengthened and augmented by Alexipharmicks.
XII. And so the Diseases proceeding from Ablation, are enumerated, according as the whole Body, or its Parts may be affected, and accordingly the proper Adductives are chosen; which adding to Generating, or encreasing the Nutriment, or Juices defective, are said either to cure, or some ways contribute to the cure, of the prevailing Illnesses, either present, or intruding upon the Patient.
XIII. This is the Method, joined with Experience, and a long Series of Observations, thro' all preceding Ages from the first beginnings of the Art of Physick, by which the Virtues of Medicaments have been investigated and found out; and according to which, the Virtues ascribed to Herbs and Plants in this our Herbal, are rationally to be accounted for.
Botanologia, or The English Herbal, was written by William Salmon, M.D., in 1710.
This chapter has been proofread by Nick Jones.