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Pennyroyal1 partakes with mint, in a very considerable degree, the property2 of restoring consciousness in fainting fits; slips of both plants being kept for the purpose in glass bottles3 filled with vinegar. It is for this reason that Varro has declared that a wreath of pennyroyal is more worthy to grace our chambers4 than a chaplet of roses: indeed, it is said that, placed upon the head, it materially alleviates head-ache.5 It is generally stated, too, that the smell of it alone will protect the head against the injurious effects of cold or heat, and that it acts as a preventive of thirst; also, that persons exposed to the sun, if they carry a couple of sprigs of pennyroyal behind the ears, will never be incommoded by the heat. For various pains, too, it is employed topically, mixed with polenta and vinegar.

The female6 plant is the more efficacious of the two; it has a purple flower, that of the male being white. Taken in cold water with salt and polenta it arrests nausea, as well as pains of the chest and abdomen. Taken, too, in water, it prevents gnawing pains of the stomach, and, with vinegar and polenta, it arrests vomiting. In combination with salt and vinegar, and polenta, it loosens the bowels. Taken with boiled honey and nitre, it is a cure for intestinal complaints. Employed with wine it is a diuretic, and if the wine is the produce of the Aminean7 grape, it has the additional effect of dispersing calculi of the bladder and removing all internal pains. Taken in conjunction with honey and vinegar, it modifies the menstrual discharge, and brings away the after-birth, restores the uterus, when displaced, to its natural position, and expels the dead8 fœtus. The seed is given to persons to smell at, who have been suddenly struck dumb, and is prescribed for epileptic patients in doses of one cyathus, taken in vinegar. If water is found unwholesome for drinking, bruised pennyroyal should be sprinkled in it; taken with wine it modifies acridities9 of the body.

Mixed with salt, it is employed as a friction for the sinews, and with honey and vinegar, in cases of opisthotony. Decoctions of it are prescribed as a drink for persons stung by serpents; and, beaten up in wine, it is employed for the stings of scorpions, that which grows in a dry soil in particular. This plant is looked upon as efficacious also for ulcerations of the mouth, and for coughs. The blossom of it, fresh gathered, and burnt, kills fleas10 by its smell. Xenocrates, among the other remedies which he mentions, says that in tertian fevers, a sprig of pennyroyal, wrapped in wool, should be given to the patient to smell at, just before the fit comes on, or else it should be put under the bed-clothes and laid by the patient's side.

1 The Menta pulegium of Linnæus.

2 Its medicinal properties are similar to those of mint; which is a good stomachic, and is useful for hysterical and hypochondriac affections, as well as head-ache. We may therefore know how far to appreciate the medicinal virtues ascribed by Pliny to these plants.

3 "Ampullas."

4 "Cubiculis:" "sleeping-chambers." It was very generally the practice among the ancients to keep odoriferous plants in their bed-rooms; a dangerous practice, now held in pretty general disesteem.

5 Strong odours, as Fée remarks, are not generally beneficial for head-ache.

6 Dioscorides makes no such distinction, and botanically speaking, as Fée observes, this distinction is faulty.

7 See B. xiv. c. 5.

8 "Defunctos partus" is certainly a better reading than "defunctis partus," though the latter is the one adopted by Sillig.

9 "Salsitudines." Hardouin is probably right in his conjecture, that the correct reading is "lassitudines," "lassitude."

10 "Pulices." It is to this belief, no doubt, that it owes its Latin name "pulegium," and its English appellation, "flea-bane."

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