The Works of Aristotle the Famous Philosopher

Page 52 of 76

The Diseases of the Womb.

I have already said, that the womb is the field of generation; and if this field be corrupted, it is vain to expect any fruit, although it be ever so well sown. It is, therefore, not without reason that I intend in this chapter to set down the several distempers to which the womb is obnoxious, with proper and safe remedies against them.

SECTION I.—Of the Hot Distemper of the Womb.

The distemper consists in excess of heat; for as heat of the womb is necessary for conception, so if it be too much, it nourisheth not the seed, but it disperseth its heat, and hinders the conception. This preternatural heat is sometimes from the birth, and causeth barrenness, but if it be accidental, it is from hot causes, that bring the heat and the blood to the womb; it arises also from internal and external medicines, and from too much hot meat, drink and exercise. Those that are troubled with this distemper have but few courses, and those are yellow, black, burnt or sharp, have hair betimes on their privities, are very prone to lust, subject to headache, and abound with choler, and when the distemper is strong upon them, they have but few terms, which are out of order, being bad and hard to flow, and in time they become hypochondriacal, and for the most part barren, having sometimes a phrenzy of the womb.

Cure. The remedy is to use coolers, so that they offend not the vessels that most open for the flux of the terms. Therefore, take the following inwardly; succory, endive, violets, water lilies, sorrel, lettuce, saunders and syrups and conserve made thereof. Also take a conserve of succory, violets, water-lilies, burrage, each an ounce; conserve of roses, half an ounce, diamargation frigid, diatriascantal, each half a drachm; and with syrup of violets, or juice of citrons, make an electuary. For outward applications, make use of ointment of roses, violets, water-lilies, gourd, Venus navel, applied to the back and loins.

Let the air be cool, her garments thin, and her food endive, lettuce, succory and barley. Give her no hot meats, nor strong wine, unless mixed with water. Rest is good for her, but she must abstain from copulation, though she may sleep as long as she pleases.

SECT. II.—Of the Cold Distempers of the Womb.

This distemper is the reverse of the foregoing, and equally an enemy to generation, being caused by a cold quality abounding to excess, and proceeds from a too cold air, rest, idleness and cooling medicines. It may be known by an aversion to venery, and taking no pleasure in the act of copulation when the seed is spent; the terms are phlegmatic, thick and slimy, and do not flow as they should; the womb is windy and the seed crude and waterish. It is the cause of obstructions and barrenness, and is hard to be cured.

Cure. Take galengal, cinnamon, nutmeg mace, cloves, ginger, cububs, cardamom, grains of paradise, each an ounce and a half, galengal, six drachms, long pepper, half an ounce, Zedoary five drachms; bruise them and add six quarts of wine, put them into a cellar nine days, daily stirring them; then add of mint two handfuls, and let them stand fourteen days, pour off the wine and bruise them, and then pour on the wine again, and distil them. Also anoint with oil of lilies, rue, angelica, cinnamon, cloves, mace and nutmeg. Let her diet and air be warm, her meat of easy concoction, seasoned with ant-seed, fennel and thyme; and let her avoid raw fruits and milk diets.

SECT. III.—Of the Inflation of the Womb.

The inflation of the womb is a stretching of it by wind, called by some a windy mole; the wind proceeds from a cold matter, whether thick or thin, contained in the veins of the womb, by which the heat thereof is overcome, and which either flows thither from other parts, or is gathered there by cold meats and drinks. Cold air may be a producing cause of it also, as women that lie in are exposed to it. The wind is contained either in the cavity of the vessels of the womb, or between the tumicle, and may be known by a swelling in the region of the womb, which sometimes reaches to the navel, loins and diaphragm, and rises and abates as the wind increaseth or decreaseth. It differs from the dropsy, in that it never swells so high. That neither physician nor midwife may take it for dropsy, let them observe the signs of the woman with the child laid down in a former part of this work; and if any sign be wanting, they may suspect it to be an inflation; of which it is a further sign, that in conception the swelling is invariable; also if you strike upon the belly, in an inflation, there will be noise, but not so in case there be a conception. It also differs from a mole, because in that there is a weight and hardness of the belly, and when the patient moves from one side to the other she feels a great weight which moveth, but not so in this. If the inflation continue without the cavity of the womb, the pain is greater and more extensive, nor is there any noise, because the wind is more pent up.

Cure. This distemper is neither of a long continuance nor dangerous, if looked after in time; and if it be in the cavity of the womb it is more easily expelled. To which purpose give her diaphnicon, with a little castor and sharp clysters that expel the wind. If this distemper happen to a woman in travail let her not purge after delivery, nor bleed, because it is from a cold matter; but if it come after child-bearing, and her terms come down sufficiently, and she has fullness of blood, let the saphoena vein be opened, after which, let her take the following electuary: take conserve of betony and rosemary, of each an ounce and a half; candied eringoes, citron peel candied, each half an ounce; diacimium, diagenel, each a drachm; oil of aniseed, six drops, and with syrup of citrons make an electuary. For outward application make a cataplasm of rue, mugwort, camomile, dill, calamint, new pennyroyal, thyme, with oil of rue, keir and camomile. And let the following clyster to expel the wind be put into the womb: Take agnus castus, cinnamon, each two drachms, boil them in wine to half a pint. She may likewise use sulphur, Bath and Spa waters, both inward and outward, because they expel the wind.

SECT. IV.—Of the Straitness of the Womb and its Vessels.

This is another effect of the womb, which is a very great obstruction to the bearing of children, hindering both the flow of the menses and conception, and is seated in the vessel of the womb, and the neck thereof. The causes of this straitness are thick and rough humours, that stop the mouths of the veins and arteries. These humours are bred either by gross or too much nourishment, when the heat of the womb is so weak that it cannot attenuate the humours, which by reason thereof, either flow from the whole body, or are gathered into the womb. Now the vessels are made straiter or closer several ways; sometimes by inflammation, scirrhous or other tumours; sometimes by compressions, scars, or by flesh or membranes that grow after a wound. The signs by which this is known are, the stoppage of the terms, not conceiving, and condities abounding in the body which are all shown by particular signs, for if there is a wound, or the secundine be pulled out by force phlegm comes from the wound; if stoppage of the terms be from an old obstruction of humours, it is hard to be cured; if it be only from the disorderly use of astringents, it is more curable; if it be from a scirrhous, or other tumours that compress or close the vessel, the disease is incurable.

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