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The might of Nature, too, is equally conspicuous in the animals which live upon dry land as well;1 the beaver, for instance, more generally known as "castor," and the testes2 of which are called in medicine "castorea." Sextius, a most careful enquirer into the nature and history of medicinal substances, assures us that it is not the truth that this animal, when on the point of being taken, bites off its testes: he informs us, also, that these substances are small, tightly knit, and attached to the back-bone, and that it is impossible to remove them without taking the animal's life. We learn from him that there is a mode of adulterating them by substituting the kidneys of the beaver, which are of considerable size, whereas the genuine testes are found to be extremely diminutive: in addition to which, he says that they must not be taken to be bladders, as they are two in number, a provision not to be found in any animal. Within these pouches,3 he says, there is a liquid found, which is preserved by being put in salt; the genuine castoreum being easily known from the false, by the fact of its being contained in two pouches, attached by a single ligament. The genuine article, he says, is sometimes fraudulently sophisticated by the admixture of gum and blood, or else hammoniacum:4 as the pouches, in fact, ought to be of the same colour as this last, covered with thin coats full of a liquid of the consistency of honey mixed with wax, possessed of a fetid smell, of a bitter, acrid taste, and friable to the touch.

The most efficacious castoreum is that which comes from Pontus and Galatia, the next best being the produce of Africa. When inhaled, it acts as a sternutatory. Mixed with oil of roses and peucedanum,5 and applied to the head, it is productive of narcotic effects—a result which is equally produced by taking it in water; for which reason it is employed in the treatment of phrenitis. Used as a fumigation, it acts as an excitant upon patients suffering from lethargy: and similarly employed, or used in the form of a suppository, it dispels hysterical6 suffocations. It acts also as an emmenagogue and as an expellent of the afterbirth, being taken by the patient, in doses of two drachmæ, with pennyroyal,7 in water. It is employed also for the cure of vertigo, opisthotony, fits of trembling, spasms, affections of the sinews, sciatica, stomachic complaints, and paralysis, the patient either being rubbed with it all over, or else taking it as an electuary, bruised and incorporated with seed of vitex,8 vinegar, and oil of roses, to the consistency of honey. In the last form, too, it is taken for the cure of epilepsy, and in a potion, for the purpose of dispelling flatulency and gripings in the bowels, and for counteracting the effects of poison.

When taken as a potion, the only difference is in the mode of mixing it, according to the poison that it is intended to neutralize; thus, for example, when it is taken for the sting of the scorpion, wine is used as the medium; and when for injuries inflicted by spiders or by the phalangium,9 honied wine where it is intended to be brought up again, and rue where it is desirable that it should remain upon the stomach. For injuries inflicted by the chalcis,10 it is taken with myrtle wine; for the sting of the cerastes11 or prester12 with panax13 or rue in wine; and for those of other serpents, with wine only. In all these cases two drachmæ of castoreum is the proper dose, to one of the other ingredients respectively. It is particularly useful, also, in combination with vinegar, in cases where viscus14 has been taken internally, and, with milk or water, as a neutralizer of aconite: as an antidote to white hellebore it is taken with hydromel and nitre.15 It is curative, also, of tooth-ache, for which purpose it is beaten up with oil and injected into the ear, on the side affected. For the cure of ear-ache, the best plan is to mix it with meconium.16 Applied with Attic honey in the form of an ointment, it improves the eyesight, and taken with vinegar it arrests hiccup.

The urine, too, of the beaver, is a neutralizer of poisons, and for this reason is used as an ingredient in antidotes. The best way of keeping it, some think, is in the bladder of the animal.

1 As water, and are consequently amphibious.

2 The Castoreum of the ancients, the "castor" of our Materia Medica, is not in reality produced from the testes of the beaver, as was supposed by the ancients, but from two oval pouches situate near the anus of the animal of either sex. There are four of these pouches in all, two containing a species of fat, and two larger ones including in their membranous cells a viscous fetid substance, which forms the castor of medicine. It is considered to be an antispasmodic.

3 "Folliculos." A very appropriate term, as Ajasson remarks.

4 See B. xii. c. 49, and B. xxxiv. c. 14.

5 See B. xxv. c. 70.

6 Castor is still given to females to inhale, when suffering from hysteria.

7 See B. xx. c. 54.

8 See B. xxiv. c.38.

9 See B. viii. c. 41, B. x. c. 95, and B. xi. cc. 24, 28.

10 See B. xxix. c. 32.

11 See B. viii. c. 35, and B. xvi, c.80.

12 See B. xx. c. 81; B. xxii. c. 13; B. xxiii. c. 23, and B. xxiv. c. 73.

13 See B. xii. c. 57.

14 Or Mistletoe; see B. xvi. c. 92.

15 As to the identity of the "nitrum" of the ancients, see B. xxxi. c. 46 and the Notes.

16 See B. xx. c. 76.

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