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There are no such things in existence as wild onions. The cultivated onion is employed for the cure of dimness1 of sight, the patient being made to smell at it till tears come into the eyes: it is still better even if the eyes are rubbed with the juice. It is said, too, that onions are soporific,2 and that they are a cure for ulcerations of the mouth, if chewed with bread. Fresh onions in vinegar, applied topically, or dried onions with wine and honey, are good for the bites of dogs, care being taken not to remove the bandage till the end of a couple of days. Applied, too, in the same way, they are good for healing excoriations. Roasted in hot ashes, many persons have applied them topically, with barley meal, for defluxions of the eyes and ulcerations of the genitals. The juice, too, is employed as an ointment for sores of the eyes, albugo,3 and argema.4 Mixed with honey, it is used as a liniment for the stings5 of serpents and all kinds of ulcerous sores. In combination with woman's milk, it is employed for affections of the ears; and in cases of singing in the ears and hardness of hearing, it is injected into those organs with goose-grease or honey. In cases where persons have been suddenly struck dumb, it has been administered to them to drink, mixed with water. In cases, too, of toothache, it is sometimes introduced into the mouth as a gargle for the teeth; it is an excellent remedy also for all kinds of wounds made by animals, scorpions more particularly.

In cases of alopecy6 and itch-scab, bruised onions are rubbed on the parts affected: they are also given boiled to persons afflicted with dysentery or lumbago. Onion peelings, burnt to ashes and mixed with vinegar, are employed topically for stings of serpents and multipedes.7

In other respects, there are remarkable differences of opinion among medical men. The more modern writers have stated that onions are good for the thoracic organs and the digestion, but that they are productive of flatulency and thirst. The school of Asclepiades maintains that, used as an aliment, onions impart a florid8 colour to the complexion, and that, taken fasting every day, they are promoters of robustness and health; that as a diet, too, they are good for the stomach by acting upon the spirits, and have the effect of relaxing the bowels. He says, too, that, employed as a suppository, onions disperse piles, and that the juice of them, taken in combination with juice of fennel, is wonderfully beneficial in cases of incipient dropsy. It is said, too, that the juice, taken with rue and honey, is good for quinsy, and has the effect of dispelling lethargy.9 Varro assures us that onions, pounded with salt and vinegar and then dried, will never be attacked by worms.10

1 This notion of the virtues of the onion is quite erroneous, though it still prevails to a considerable degree. Hippocrates, however, Dioscorides, and Galen, like Pliny, attribute this property to the onion.

2 This, Fée says, is not the fact.

3 A disease of the eye, by which the cornea contracts a whiteness.

4 A white speck within the black of the eye.

5 It is of no use whatever for such a purpose.

6 Fox evil, or scurf, or scaldhead: a disease which causes the hair to fall off the body. It derives its name from the Greek ἀλώπηξ, a "fox," from the circumstance that they were supposed to be peculiarly affected with a similar disease.

7 Or millepedes. See c. 6 of this Book.

8 So the school of Salerno says—
Non modicum sanas Asclepius asserit illas,
Præsertim stomacho, pulchrumque creare colorem.

9 This is not the case.

10 "Vermiculis." Small worms or maggots.

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