previous next


A decoction of the root of the bitter almond1 clears the complexion, and gives the face a brighter colour.2 Bitter al- monds are provocative of sleep,3 and sharpen the appetite; they act, also, as a diuretic and as an emmenagogue. They are used topically for head-ache, when there is fever more particularly. Should the head-ache proceed from inebriation,4 they are applied with vinegar, rose-oil, and one sextarius of water. Used in combination with amylum5 and mint, they arrest hæmorrhage. They are useful, also, for lethargy and epilepsy, and the head is anointed with them for the cure of epinyctis. In combination with wine, they heal putrid ulcers of an inveterate nature, and, with honey, bites inflicted by dogs.6 They are employed, also, for the cure of scaly erup- tions of the face, the parts affected being fomented first.

Taken in water, or, as is often done, in an electuary, with resin of terebinth,7 they remove pains in the liver and kidneys; used with raisin wine, they are good for calculus and strangury. Bruised in hydromel, they are useful for cleansing the skin; and taken in an electuary with the addition of a small proportion of elelisphacus,8 they are good for diseases of the liver, cough, and colic, a piece about the size of a hazel-nut being taken in honey. It is said that if five bitter almonds are taken by a person before sitting down to drink, he will be proof against inebriation;9 and that foxes, if they eat bitter almonds,10 will be sure to die immediately, if they cannot find water to lap.

As to sweet almonds, their remedial properties are not11 so extensive; still, however, they are of a purgative nature, and are diuretic. Eaten fresh, they are difficult12 of digestion.

1 See B. xv. c. 24.

2 "Hilariorem." At the present day it is not a decoction of the root, but the fixed oil of the kernels, that is used as a cosmetic; for which purpose it is used with oil of sweet almonds and wax.

3 Their narcotic effect is owing to the prussic, or hydro-cyanic, acid which they contain.

4 Almonds were a favourite food with the monks in the middle ages; not improbably because they tended to dispel the fumes of wine. Almond milk, similar to our custard, was a standing dish at their "charities" and anuiversaries.

5 See B. xviii. c. 17.

6 They would be of no use whatever in these cases.

7 Otherwise turpentine.

8 See B. xxii. c. 71.

9 See Note24 above. Plutarch tells us that Drusus, the brother of Tiberius, one of the greatest drinkers of his time, used almonds for this purpose. Fée will not believe that they have any such preventive effect.

10 Almonds will kill small animals, birds, for instance.

11 They are much more used in modern medicine than bitter almonds.

12 There is some ground, Fée says, for this assertion.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: