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PART 16

You will find the drink, called oxymel, often very useful in these complaints, for it promotes expectoration and freedom of breathing. the following are the proper occasions for administering it. When strongly acid it has no mean operation in[p. 77] rendering the expectoration more easy, for by bringing up the sputa, which occasion troublesome hawking, and rendering them more slippery, and, as it were, clearing the windpipe with a feather, it relieves the lungs and proves emollient to them; and when it succeeds in producing these effects it must do much good. But there are cases in which hydromel, strongly acid, does not promote expectoration, but renders it more viscid and thus does harm, and it is most apt to produce these bad effects in cases which are otherwise of a fatal character, when the patient is unable to cough or bring up the sputa. On this account, then, one ought to consider beforehand the strength of the patient, and if there be any hope, then one may give it, but if given at all in such cases it should be quite tepid, and in by no means large doses. But if slightly acrid it moistens the mouth and throat, promotes expectoration, and quenches thirst; agrees with the viscera seated in the hypochondrium, and obviates the bad effects of the honey; for the bilious quality of the honey is thereby corrected. It also promotes flatulent discharges from the bowels, and is diuretic, but it occasions watery discharges and those resembling scrapings, from the lower part of the intestine, which is sometimes a bad thing in acute diseases, more especially when the flatulence cannot be passed, but rolls backwards; and otherwise it diminishes the strength and makes the extremities cold, this is the only bad effect worth mentioning which I have known to arise from the oxymel. It may suit well to drink a little of this at night before the draught of ptisan, and when a considerable interval of time has passed after the draught there will be nothing to prevent its being taken. But to those who are restricted entirely to drinks without draughts of ptisan, it will therefore not be proper at all times to give it, more especially from the fretting and irritation of the intestine which it occasions, (and these bad effects it will be the more apt to produce provided there be no faeces in the intestines and the patient is laboring under inanition,) and then it will weaken the powers of the hydromel. But if it appears advantageous to use a great deal of this drink during the whole course of the disease, one should add to it merely as much vinegar as can just be perceived by the taste, for thus what is[p. 78] prejudicial in it will do the least possible harm, and what is beneficial will do the more good. In a word, the acidity of vinegar agrees rather with those who are troubled with bitter bile, than with those patients whose bile is black; for the bitter principle is dissolved in it and turned to phlegm, by being suspended in it; whereas black bile is fermented, swells up, and is multiplied thereby: for vinegar is a melanogogue. Vinegar is more prejudicial to women than to men, for it creates pains in the uterus.

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