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Walnuts1 have received their name in Greek from being oppressive2 to the head; for, in fact, the emanations3 from the tree itself and the leaves penetrate to the brain. The kernels, also, have a similar effect when eaten, though not in so marked a degree. When fresh gathered, they are most agreeable eating; for when dry, they are more oleaginous, unwholesome to the stomach, difficult of digestion, productive of head-ache, and bad for cough,4 or for a person when about to take an emetic fasting: they are good in cases of tenesmus only, as they carry off the pituitous humours of the body. Eaten beforehand, they deaden the effects of poison, and, employed with rue and oil, they are a cure for quinsy. They act as a corrective, also, to onions, and modify their flavour. They are applied to inflammations of the ears, with a little honey, and with rue they are used for affections of the mamille, and for sprains. With onions, salt, and honey, they are applied to bites inflicted by dogs or human beings. Walnut-shells are used for cauterizing5 carious teeth; and with these shells, burnt and then beaten up in oil or wine, the heads of infants are anointed, they having a tendency to make the hair grow; hence they are used in a similar manner for alopecy also. These nuts, eaten in considerable numbers, act as an expellent upon tapeworm.6 Walnuts, when very old, are7 curative of gangrenous sores and carbuncles, of bruises also. Green walnut-shells8 are employed for the cure of lichens and dysentery, and the leaves are beaten up with vinegar as an application for earache.9

After the defeat of that mighty monarch, Mithridates, Cneius Pompeius found in his private cabinet a recipe for an antidote in his own hand-writing; it was to the following effect:10— Take two dried walnuts, two figs, and twenty leaves of rue; pound them all together, with the addition of a grain of salt; if a person takes this mixture fasting, he will be proof against all poisons for that day.11 Walnut kernels, chewed by a man fasting, and applied to the wound, effect an instantaneous cure, it is said, of bites inflicted by a mad dog.

1 See B. xv. c. 24.

2 κάρυα, from κάρος, "heaviness," or κάρη, the "head." See Vol. III. p. 316.

3 A mere prejudice, no doubt.

4 The rancidity of the oil which they contain, renders them irritating to the throat and stomach.

5 Fée remarks, that it is difficult to see how this could be done.

6 This statement, as Fée remarks, is quite unfounded.

7 This assertion is also entirely imaginary.

8 "Cortex juglandium." Fée says that by this term is meant, not the green outer shell, husk, or pericarpus of the walnut, but the bark of the tree.

9 This asserted use of them has not been verified by modern experience.

10 The various receipts for the preparation of this Mithridate or antidote differ very widely; and, indeed, the probability is, as Dr. Heberden says, that Mithridates was as much a stranger to his own antidote, as modern physicians have since been to the medicines daily advertised under their names. Mithridates is said to have so fortified himself against all noxious drugs and poisons, that none would produce any effect when he attempted to destroy himself—a mere fable, no doubt.

11 This, we are told by Galen, was regularly done by the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, De Antid. B. i. c. i.

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