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There are two kinds of elder, one of which grows wild and is much smaller than the other; by the Greeks it is known as the "chamæacte," or "helion."1 A decoction of the leaves,2 seed, or root of either kind, taken in doses of two cyathi, in old wine, though bad for the upper regions of the stomach, carries off all aqueous humours by stool. This decoction is very cooling too for inflammations, those attendant upon recent burns in particular. A poultice is made also of the more tender leaves, mixed with polenta, for bites inflicted by dogs. The juice of the elder, used as a fomentation, reduces abscesses of the brain, and more particularly of the membrane which envelopes that organ. The berries, which have not so powerful an action as the other parts of the tree, stain the hair. Taken in doses of one acetabulum, in drink, they are diuretic. The softer leaves are eaten with oil and salt, to carry off pituitous and bilious secretions.

The smaller kind is for all these purposes the more efficacious of the two. A decoction of the root in wine, taken in doses of two cyathi, brings away the water in dropsy, and acts emolliently upon the uterus: the same effects are produced also by a sitting-bath made of a decoction of the leaves. The tender shoots of the cultivated kind, boiled in a saucepan and eaten as food, have a purgative effect: the leaves taken in wine, neutralize the venom of serpents. An application of the young shoots, mixed with he-goat suet, is remarkably good for gout; and if they are macerated in water, the infusion will destroy fleas. If a decoction of the leaves is sprinkled about a place, it will exterminate flies. "Boa"3 is the name given to a malady which appears in the form of red pimples upon the body; for its cure the patient is scourged with a branch of elder. The inner bark,4 pounded and taken with white wine, relaxes the bowels.

1 "Ground elder" or "marsh elder;" the Sambucus ebulus of Linnæus, or dwarf elder. The other kind mentioned by Pliny is the Sambucus nigra of Linnæus, or black elder.

2 Fée says that though some of the assertions as to its medicinal properties made by Pliny are unfounded, it is still an opinion among the moderns that the leaves of the elder are purgative, the inner bark an emetic and hydragogue, the berries laxative, and the flowers emollient.

3 According to Hardouin, this would appear to be the measles; but according to Festus, swellings on the legs were so called. The shingles is probably the malady meant.

4 Fée speaks of a decoction of the inner bark as having been recently in vogue for the cure of dropsy.

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