CHAP. 33. (9.)—REMEDIES FURNISHED IN COMMON BY ANIMALS
OF THE SAME CLASS, WHETHER WILD OR TAME. FIFTY-FOUR
MEDICINAL USES OF MILK, WITH OBSERVATIONS THEREON.
We will now return to our own part of the world, speaking,
first of all, of certain remedies common to animals in general,
but excellent in their nature; such as the use of milk, for
example. The most beneficial milk to every creature is the
milk. It is highly dangerous for nursing women to
conceive: children that are suckled by them are known among
us as "colostrati,"2
their milk being thick, like cheese in appearance—the name "colostra,"3
it should be remembered, is
given to the first milk secreted after delivery, which assumes a
spongy, coagulated form. The most nutritive milk, in all
cases, is woman's milk, and next to that goats' milk, to which
is owing, probably, the fabulous story that Jupiter was suckled
by a goat.4
The sweetest, next to woman's milk, is camels'
milk; but the most efficacious, medicinally speaking, is asses'
milk. It is in animals of the largest size and individuals
of the greatest bulk, that the milk is secreted with the greatest
facility. Goats' milk agrees the best with the stomach, that
animal browsing more than grazing. Cows' milk is considered
more medicinal, while ewes' milk is sweeter and more nutritive, but not so well adapted to the stomach, it being more
oleaginous than any other.
Every kind of milk is more aqueous in spring than in summer, and the same in all cases where the animal has grazed
upon a new pasture. The best milk of all is that which adheres
to the finger nail, when placed there, and does not run from off
it. Milk is most harmless when boiled, more particularly if
have been boiled with it. Cows' milk is the most
relaxing, and all kinds of milk are less apt to inflate when
boiled. Milk is used for all kinds of internal ulcerations,
those of the kidneys, bladder, intestines, throat, and lungs in
particular; and externally, it is employed for itching sensations
upon the skin, and for purulent eruptions, it being taken fasting
for the purpose. We have already6
stated, when speaking of
the plants, how that in Arcadia cows' milk is administered for
phthisis, consumption, and cachexy. Instances are cited, also,
of persons who have been cured of gout in the hands and feet,
by drinking asses' milk.
To these various kinds of' milk, medical men have added
another, to which they have given the name of "schiston;"7
the following being the usual method of preparing it. Goats'
milk, which is used in preference for the purpose, is boiled in
a new earthen vessel, and stirred with branches of a fig-tree
newly gathered, as many cyathi of honied wine being added to
it as there are semisextarii of milk. When the mixture boils,
care is taken to prevent it running over, by plunging into it a
silver cyathus measure filled with cold water, none of the water
being allowed to escape. When taken off the fire, the constituent parts of it divide as it cools, and the whey is thus separated
from the milk. Some persons, again, take this whey, which is
now very strongly impregnated with wine, and, after boiling
it down to one third, leave it to cool in the open air. The
best way of taking it, is in doses of one semisextarius, at stated
intervals, during five consecutive days; after taking it, riding
exercise should be used by the patient. This whey is admi-
nistered in cases of epilepsy, melancholy, paralysis, leprosy,
elephantiasis, and diseases of the joints.
Milk is employed as an injection where excoriations have
been caused by the use of strong purgatives; in cases also
where dysentery is productive of chafing, it is similarly employed, boiled with sea pebbles or a ptisan of barley. Where,
however, the intestines are excoriated, cows' milk or ewes'
milk is the best. New milk is used as an injection for dysentery; and in an unboiled state, it is employed for affections of
the colon and uterus, and for injuries inflicted by serpents. It
is also taken internally as an antidote to the venom of cantharides, the pine-caterpillar, the buprestis, and the salamander.
Cows' milk is particularly recommended for persons who have
taken colchicum, hemlock, dorycnium,8
or the flesh of the seahare; and asses' milk, in cases where gypsum, white-lead,
or quick-silver, have been taken internally. This
last is good too for constipation attendant upon fever, and is
remarkably useful as a gargle for ulcerations of the throat. It
is taken, also, internally, by patients suffering from atrophy, for
the purpose of recruiting their exhausted strength; as also in
cases of fever unattended with head-ache. The ancients held
it as one of their grand secrets, to administer to children, before
taking food, a semisextarius of asses' milk, or for want of that,
goats' milk; a similar dose, too, was given to children troubled
with chafing of the rectum at stool. It is considered a sovereign remedy for hardness of breathing, to take cows' milk
whey, mixed with nasturtium. In cases of ophthalmia, too, the
eyes are fomented with a mixture of one semisextarius of
milk and four drachmæ of pounded sesame.
Goats' milk is a cure for diseases of the spleen; but in such
case the goats must fast a couple of days, and be fed on ivyleaves the third; the patient, too, must drink the milk for three
consecutive days, without taking any other nutriment. Milk,
under other circumstances, is detrimental to persons suffering
from head-ache, liver complaints, diseases of the spleen, and
affections of the sinews; it is bad for fevers, also, vertigo—except, indeed, where it is required as a purgative—-oppression of
the head, coughs, and ophthalmia. Sows' milk is extremely use-
ful in cases of tenesmus, dysentery, and phthisis; authors have
been found too, to assert that it is very wholesome for females.