The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 18 of 76

If the discharge be angry, treat it with syrup of roses, violets, endive and succory; give a purge of mirabolans, manna, rhubarb, and cassia. Take two drachms of rhubarb, one of aniseed, and one scruple and a half of cinnamon; infuse them into six ounces of syrup of prunes, and add one ounce of strained manna, and take it in the morning as required. Take one drachm each of the following drugs: diatonlanton, diacorant, diarthod, abbaris, dyacydomei, four ounces of sugar, and make into lozenges with plantain water. If the gall be sluggish, and does not stir the bowels, give warm injections of a decoction of the four mollifying herbs, with honey of roses and aloes.

If the flow be bilious, treat the patient with syrup of maiden-hair; epithynium, polypody, borage, buglos, fumitary, hart's tongue and syrups, bisantius, which must be made without vinegar, else it will assist the disease instead of nature, for melancholy is increased by the use of vinegar, and both Hippocrates, Silvius and Avenzoar reject it as injurious for the womb, and therefore not to be used internally in uterine diseases. Pilulae sumariae, pilulae lud. delupina, lazuli diosena and confetio hamec are purges of bile. Take two ounces of pounded prunes, one drachm of senna, a drachm and a half each of epithimium, polypody and fumitary, and an ounce of sour dates, and make a decoction with endive water; take four ounces of it and add three drachms of hamesech and three of manna. Or take a scruple each of pil. indic. foetid, agarici, trochis ati; one scruple of rhubarb pills, six grains of lapis lazuli, make into pills with epithimium, and take them once a week. Take three drachms of elect. loetificans. Galen three drachms, a drachm each of diamargaritum, calimi, diamosci dulus; a drachm of conserve of borage, violets and burglos; one drachm of candied citron peel, seven ounces of sugar, and make into lozenges with rose water.

Lastly let the womb be cleansed of all corrupt matter, and then be strengthened. In order to purify it, make injections of the decoction of betony, feverfew, spikenard, bismust, mercury and sage, and add two ounces each of sugar and sweet almond oil; pessaries may also be made of silk or cotton, softened in the juice of the above mentioned herbs.

You must prepare trochisks, thus, to strengthen the womb. Take one ounce each of mugwort, feverfew, myrrh, amber, mace, storax, ling aloes and red roses, and make lozenges or troches with mucilage of tragacanth; throw one of them on to hot coals and fumigate the womb with red wine, in which mastic, fine bole, malustia and red roots have been decocted; anoint the matrix with oil of quinces and myrtles, and apply a plaster to it, for the womb; and let the woman take diamosdum dulco, aract, and slemoticum every morning.

A drying diet is recommended as best, because in these cases the body abounds with phlegmatic and crude humours. On this account, Hippocrates advises the patient to go to bed supperless. Her food should consist of partridges, pheasant and grouse, roasted rather than boiled, too much sleep must be prohibited whilst moderate exercise is very advisable.



The female flowing.


The Suffocation of the Mother.

This, which if simply considered, will be found to be merely the cause of an effect, is called in English, "the suffocation of the mother," not because the womb is strangled, but because by its retraction towards the midriff and stomach, which presses it up, so that the instrumental cause of respiration, the midriff, is suffocated, and acting with the brain, cause the animating faculty, the efficient cause of respiration, also to be interrupted, when the body growing cold, and the action weakened, the woman falls to the ground as if she were dead.

Some women remain longer in those hysterical attacks than others, and Rabbi Moses mentions some who lay in the fit for two days. Rufus writes of one who continued in it for three days and three nights, and revived at the end of the three days. And I will give you an example so that we may take warning by the example of other men. Paroetus mentions a Spanish woman who was suddenly seized with suffocation of the womb, and was thought to be dead. Her friends, for their own satisfaction, sent for a surgeon in order to have her opened, and as soon as he began to make an incision, she began to move, and come to herself again with great cries, to the horror and surprise of all those present.

In order that the living may be distinguished from the dead, old writers prescribe three experiments. The first is, to lay a feather on the mouth, and by its movements you may judge whether the patient be alive or dead; the second is, to place a glass of water on the breast, and if it moves, it betokens life; the third is, to hold a bright, clean, looking-glass to the mouth and nose, and if the glass be dimmed with a little moisture on it, it betokens life. These three experiments are good, but you must not depend upon them too much, for though the feather and the glass do not move, and the looking-glass continues bright and clear, yet it is not a necessary consequence that she is dead. For the movement of the lungs, by which breathing is produced, may be checked, so that she cannot breathe, and yet internal heat may remain, which is not evident by the motion of the breast or lungs, but lies hidden in the heart and arteries.

Examples of this we find in flies and swallows, who seem dead to all outward appearances, breathless and inanimate, and yet they live by that heat which is stored up in the heart and inward arteries. At the approach of summer, however, the internal heat, being restored to the outer parts, they are then brought to life again, out of their sleeping trance.

Those women, therefore, who apparently die suddenly, and from no visible cause, should not be buried until the end of three days, lest the living be buried instead of the dead.


The part affected is the womb, of which there are two motions—natural and symptomatic. The natural motion is, when the womb attracts the male seed, or expels the infant, and the symptomatical motion, of which we are speaking, is a convulsive drawing up of the womb.

The cause is usually in the retention of the seed, or in the suppression of the menses, which causes a repletion of the corrupt humours of the womb, from which a windy refrigeration arises, which produces a convulsion of the ligaments of the womb. And just as it may arise from humidity or repletion, so also, as it is a convulsion, it may be caused by dryness or emptiness. Lastly also, it may arise from abortion or from difficult childbirth.


On the approach of suffocation of the womb the face becomes pale, there is a weakness of the legs, shortness of breathing, frigidity of the whole body, with a spasm in the throat, and then the woman falls down, bereft of sense and motion; the mouth of the womb is closed up, and feels hard when touched with the finger. When the paroxysm or the fit is over, she opens her eyes, and as she feels an oppression of the stomach, she tries to vomit. And lest any one should be deceived into taking one disease for another, I will show how it may be distinguished from those diseases which most resemble it.

It differs from apoplexy, as it comes without the patient crying out; in hysterical fits also the sense of feeling is not altogether destroyed and lost, as it is in apoplexy; and it differs from epilepsy, as the eyes are not distorted, and there is spongy froth from the mouth. That convulsive motion also, which is frequently accompanied by symptoms of suffocation, is not universal, as it is in epilepsy, but there is some convulsion, but that without any violent agitation. In syncope both breathing and the pulse fail, the face grows pale, and the woman faints suddenly; but in hysterical attacks there are usually both breathing and pulse, though these are indistinct; the face is red and she has a forewarning of the approaching fit. It cannot, however, be denied that syncope may accompany this feeling of suffocation. Lastly, it can be distinguished from lethargy by the pulse, which is rapid in the former, but weak in the latter.


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