CHAP. 80.—THE LAUREL; SIXTY-NINE OBSERVATIONS UPON IT.
All parts of the laurel, both the leaves, bark, and berries,
are of a warming1
nature; and a decoction of them, the
leaves in particular, is very useful for affections of the bladder and uterus.2
The leaves, applied topically, neutralize the
poison of wasps, bees, and hornets, as also that of serpents,
and viper, in particular. Boiled in oil,
they promote the catamenia; and the more tender of the leaves
beaten up with polenta, are used for inflammations of the eyes.
with rue for inflammations of the testes, and with rose-oil, or
oil of iris,5
for head-ache. Three leaves, chewed and swallowed for three days in succession, are a cure for cough, and
beaten up with honey, for asthma. The bark of the root is
dangerous to pregnant women; the root itself disperses calculi, and taken in doses of three oboli in aromatic wine, it
acts beneficially on the liver. The leaves, taken in drink, act
as an emetic;6
and the berries, pounded and applied as a pessary, or else taken in drink, promote menstruation. Two of
the berries with the skin removed, taken in wine, are a cure
for inveterate cough and hardness of breathing; if, however,
this is accompanied with fever, they are given in water, or
else in an electuary with raisin wine, or boiled in hydromel.
Employed in a similar manner, they are good for phthisis, and
for all defluxions of the chest, as they have the effect of
detaching the phlegm and bringing it off.
For stings inflicted by scorpions, four laurel-berries are
taken in wine. Applied with oil, they are a cure for epinyctis, freckles, running sores, ulcers of the mouth, and scaly
eruptions. The juice of the berries is curative of porrigo
and phthiriasis; and for pains in the ears, or hardness of hearing, it is injected into those organs with old wine and oil of
roses. All venomous creatures fly at the approach of persons
who have been anointed with this juice: taken in drink, the
juice of the small-leaved7
laurel in particular, it is good for
stings inflicted by them. The berries,8
used with wine, neu-
tralize the venom of serpents, scorpions, and spiders; they
are applied also, topically, with oil and vinegar, in diseases of
the spleen and liver, and with honey to gangrenous sores. In
cases of lassitude and shivering fits, it is a very good plan to
rub the body with juice of laurel-berries mixed with nitre.
Some persons are of opinion that delivery is accelerated by
taking laurel-root to the amount of one acetabulum, in water,
and that, used fresh, it is better than dried. It is recommended
by some authorities, to take ten of the berries in drink, for
the sting of the scorpion; and in cases of relaxation of the
uvula, to boil a quarter of a pound of the berries, or leaves,
in three sextarii of water, down to one third, the decoction
being used warm, as a gargle. For head-ache, also, it is recommended to bruise an uneven number of the berries in oil,
the mixture being warmed for use.
The leaves of the Delphic laurel9
bruised and applied to the
nostrils from time to time, are a preservative10
gion in pestilence, and more particularly if they are burnt.
The oil of the11
Delphic laurel is employed in the preparation
of cerates and the medicinal composition known as "acopum,"12
and is used for fits of shivering occasioned by cold, for the
relaxation of the sinews, and for the cure of pains in the side
and the cold attacks in fevers.13
Warmed in the rind of a
pomegranate, it is applied topically for the cure of ear-ache. A
decoction of the leaves boiled down in water to one third, used
as a gargle, braces the uvula, and taken in drink allays pains
in the bowels and intestines. The more tender leaves, bruised
in wine and applied at night, are a cure for pimples and
The other varieties of the laurel possess properties which
are nearly analogous. The root of the laurel of Alexandria,14
or of Mount Ida,15
accelerates delivery, being administered in
doses of three denarii to three cyathi of sweet wine; it acts
also as an emmenagogue, and brings away the after-birth.
Taken in drink in a similar manner, the wild laurel, known as
"daphnoides" and by the other names which we have mentioned,16
is productive of beneficial effects. The leaves of it,
either fresh or dried, taken in doses of three drachmœ, in
hydromel with salt, act as a purgative17
upon the bowels.
The wood, chewed, brings off phlegm, and the leaves act as
an "emetic;" they are unwholesome, however, to the stomach.
The berries, too, are sometimes taken, fifteen in number, as a