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One of the most active, however, of all the medicinal plants, is rue.1 The cultivated kind has broader leaves and more numerous branches than the other. Wild rue is more violent in its effects, and more active in every respect. The juice of it is extracted by beating it up, and moistening it moderately with water; after which it is kept for use in boxes of Cyprian copper. Given in large doses, this juice has all the baneful effects of poison,2 and that of Macedonia more particularly, which grows on the banks of the river Aliac- mon.3 It is a truly wonderful thing, but the juice of hemlock has the property of neutralizing its effects. Thus do we find one thing acting as the poison of another poison, for the juice of hemlock is very beneficial, rubbed upon the hands and [face]4 of persons employed in gathering rue.

In other respects, rue is one of the principal ingredients employed in antidotes, that of Galatia more particularly. Every species of rue, employed by itself, has the effect also of an antidote, if the leaves are bruised and taken in wine. It is good more particularly in cases of poisoning by wolf's bane5 and mistletoe, as well as by fungi, whether administered in the drink or the food. Employed in a similar manner, it is good for the stings of serpents; so much so, in fact, that weasels,6 when about to attack them, take the precaution first of protecting themselves by eating rue. Rue is good, too, for the injuries by scorpions and spiders, the stings of bees, hornets, and wasps, the noxious effects produced by cantharides and salamanders,7 and the bites of mad dogs. The juice is taken in doses of one acetabulum, in wine; and the leaves, beaten up or else chewed, are applied topically, with honey and salt, or boiled with vinegar and pitch. It is said that people rubbed with the juice of rue, or even having it on their person, are never attacked by these noxious creatures, and that serpents are driven away by the stench of burning rue. The most efficacious, however, of all, is the root of wild rue, taken with wine; this too, it is said, is more beneficial still, if drunk in the open air.

Pythagoras has distinguished this plant also into male and female, the former having smaller leaves than the other, and of a grass-green colour; the female plant, he says, has leaves of a larger size and a more vivid hue. The same author, too, has considered rue to be injurious to the eyes; but this is an error, for engravers and painters are in the habit of eating it with bread, or else nasturtium, for the benefit of the sight; wild goats, too, eat it for the sight, they say. Many persons have dispersed films on the eyes by rubbing them with a mixture of the juice of rue with Attic honey, or the milk of a woman just delivered of a male child: the same result has been produced also by touching the corners of the eyes with the pure juice of the plant. Applied topiclly, with polenta, rue carries off defluxions of the eyes; and, taken with wine, or applied topically with vinegar and rose oil, it is a cure for head-ache. If, however, the pain attacks the whole of the head,8 the rue should be applied with barley-meal and vin- egar. This plant has the effect also of dispelling crudities, flatulency, and inveterate pains of the stomach; it opens the uterus, too, and restores it when displaced; for which purpose it is applied as a liniment, with honey, to the whole of the abdomen and chest. Mixed with figs, and boiled down to one half, it is administered in wine for dropsy; and it is taken in a similar manner for pains of the chest, sides, and loins, as well as for coughs, asthma, and affections of the lungs, liver, and kidneys, and for shivering fits. Persons about to indulge in wine, take a decoction of the leaves, to prevent head-ache and surfeit. Taken in food, too, it is wholesome, whether eaten raw or boiled, or used as a confection: boiled with hyssop, and taken with wine, it is good for gripings of the stomach. Employed in the same way, it arrests internal hæmorrhage, and, applied to the nostrils, bleeding at the nose: it is beneficial also to the teeth if rinsed with it. In cases of ear-ache, this juice is injected into the ears, care being taken to moderate the dose, as already stated, if wild rue is employed. For hardness of hearing, too, and singing in the ears, it is similarly employed in combination with oil of roses, or oil of laurel, or else cummin and honey.

Juice of rue pounded ill vinegar, is applied also to the temples and the region of the brain in persons affected with phrenitis; some persons, however, have added to this mixture wild thyme and laurel leaves, rubbing the head and neck as well with the liniment. It has been given in vinegar to lethargic patients to smell at, and a decoction of it is administered for epilepsy, in doses of four cyathi, as also just before the attacks in fever of intolerable chills. It is likewise given raw to persons for shivering fits Rue is a provocative9 of the urine to bleeding even: it promotes the menstrual discharge, also, and brings away the after-birth, as well as the dead fœtus even, according to Hippocrates,10 if taken in sweet red wine. The same author, also, recommends applications of it, as well as fumigations, for affections of the uterus.

For cardiac diseases, Diocles prescribes applications of rue, in combination with vinegar, honey, and barley-meal: and for the iliac passion, he says that it should be mixed with meal, boiled in oil, and spread upon the wool of a sheep's fleece. Many persons recommend, for purulent expectorations, two drachmæ of dried rue to one and a half of sulphur; and, for spitting of blood, a decoction of three sprigs in wine. It is given also in dysentery, with cheese, the rue being first beaten up in wine; and it has been prescribed, pounded with bitumen, as a potion for habitual shortness of breath. For persons suffering from violent falls, three ounces of the seed is recommended. A pound of oil, in which rue leaves have been boiled, added to one sextarius of wine, forms a liniment for parts of the body which are frost-bitten. If rue really is a diuretic, as Hippocrates11 thinks, it is a singular thing that some persons should give it, as being an anti-diuretic, for the suppression of incontinence of urine.

Applied topically, with honey and alum, it cures itch-scabs, and leprous sores; and, in combination with nightshade and hogs'-lard, or beef-suet, it is good for morphew, warts, scrofula, and maladies of a similar nature. Used with vinegar and oil, or else white lead, it is good for erysipelas; and, applied with vinegar, for carbuncles. Some persons prescribe silphium also as an ingredient in the liniment; but it is not employed by them for the cure of the pustules known as epinyctis. Boiled rue is recommended, also, as a cataplasm for swellings of the mamillæ, and, combined with wax, for eruptions of pituitous matter.12 It is applied with tender sprigs of laurel, in cases of defluxion of the testes; and it exercises so peculiar an effect upon those organs, that old rue, it is said, employed in a liniment, with axle-grease, is a cure for hernia. The seed pounded, and applied with wax, is remedial also for broken limbs. The root of this plant, applied topically, is a cure for effusion of blood in the eyes, and, employed as a liniment, it removes scars or spots on all parts of the body.

Among the other properties which are attributed to rue, it is a singular fact, that, though it is universally agreed that it is hot by nature, a bunch of it, boiled in rose-oil, with the addition of an ounce of aloes, has the effect of checking the perspiration in those who rub themselves with it; and that, used as an aliment, it impedes the generative functions. Hence it is, that it is so often given in cases of spermatorrhœa, and where persons are subject to lascivious dreams. Every precaution should be taken by pregnant women to abstain from rue as an article of diet, for I find it stated that it is productive of fatal results to the fœtus.13

Of all the plants that are grown, rue is the one that is most generally employed for the maladies of cattle, whether arising from difficulty of respiration, or from the stings of noxious creatures—in which cases it is injected with wine into the nostrils—or whether they may happen to have swallowed a horse-leech, under which circumstances it is administered in vinegar. In all other maladies of cattle, the rue is prepared just as for man in a similar case.

1 The Ruta graveolens of Linnæus. The Romans, singularly enough, valued this offensive plant as a condiment for their dishes, and a seasoning for their wines.—See B. xiv. c. 19: and at the present day even, it is admired for its smell, Fée says, by the ladies of Naples. The Italians use it also for their salads. Its smell is thought to prevent infection, for which reason it is still used, in country-places, at funerals, and is placed before prisoners when tried criminally, for the prevention, it is said, of gaol fever.

2 It is not the rue that has this effect, so much as the salts of copper which are formed.

3 Fée thinks it not likely that the rue grown here was at all superior to that of other localities.

4 This word, omitted in the text, is supplied from Dioscorides.

5 Or aconite. There is no truth whatever in these assertions, that rue has the effect of neutralizing the effects of hemlock, henbane, or poisonous fungi. Boerrhave says that he employed rue successfully in cases of hysteria and epilepsy; and it is an opinion which originated with Hippocrates, and is still pretty generally entertained, that it promotes the catamenia.

6 See B. viii. c. 40.

7 See B. x. c. 86.

8 "Si vere sit cephalæa."

9 Dioscorides says however, B. iii. c. 52, that it arrests incontinence of the urine. See below.

10 De Morb. Mul. B. i. c. 128.

11 De Diæta, B. ii. c. 26.

12 "Pituitæ eruptionibus."

13 This prejudice, Fée says, still survives.

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