CHAP. 81.—MYRTLE; SIXTY OBSERVATIONS UPON IT.
cultivated myrtle is employed for fewer medicinal purposes than the black one.2
of it are
good for spitting of blood, and taken in wine, they neutralize
the poison of fungi. They impart an agreeable smell4
breath, even when eaten the day before; thus, for instance, in
Menander we find the Synaristosæ5
eating them. They are
taken also for dysentery,6
in doses of one denarius, in wine:
and they are employed lukewarm, in wine, for the cure of
obstinate ulcers on the extremities. Mixed with polenta, they
are employed topically in ophthalmia, and for the cardiac
they are applied to the left breast. For stings inflicted by scorpions, diseases of the bladder, head-ache, and
fistulas of the eye before suppuration, they are similarly employed; and for tumours and pituitous eruptions, the kernels
are first removed and the berries are then pounded in old
wine. The juice of the berries8
acts astringently upon the
bowels, and is diuretic: mixed with cerate it is applied topically to blisters, pituitous eruptions, and wounds inflicted by
the phalangium; it imparts a black tint,9
also, to the hair.
The oil of this myrtle is of a more soothing nature than the
juice, and the wine10
which is extracted from it, and which
possesses the property of never inebriating, is even more so.
This wine, used when old, acts astringently upon the stomach
and bowels, cures griping pains in those regions, and dispels
The dried leaves, powdered and sprinkled upon the body,
check profuse perspirations, in fever even; they are good, too,
used as a fomentation, for cœliac affections, procidence of the
uterus, diseases of the fundament, running ulcers, erysipelas,
loss of the hair, scaly and other eruptions, and burns. This
powder is used as an ingredient, also, in the plasters known as
and for the same reason the oil of the leaves is
used for a similar purpose, being extremely efficacious as an
application to the humid parts of the body, the mouth and the
uterus, for example.
The leaves themselves, beaten up with wine, neutralize12
bad effects of fungi; and they are employed, in combination
with wax, for diseases of the joints, and gatherings. A decoction of them, in wine, is taken for dysentery and dropsy.
Dried and reduced to powder, they are sprinkled upon ulcers
and hæmorrhages. They are useful, also, for the removal of
freckles, and for the cure of hang-nails,13
mata, affections of the testes, and sordid ulcers. In combination
with cerate, they are used for burns.
For purulent discharges from the ears, the ashes of the
leaves are employed, as well as the juice and the decoction:
the ashes are also used in the composition of antidotes. For a
similar purpose the blossoms are stripped from off the young
branches, which are burnt in a furnace, and then pounded in
wine. The ashes of the leaves, too, are used for the cure of
burns. To prevent ulcerations from causing swellings in the
inguinal glands, it will suffice for the patient to carry14
of myrtle about him which has never touched the ground or
any implement of iron.