This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Caricae Pharm. Lond. & Edinb. Figs: the dried fruit of the ficus communis C. B. Ficus Carica Linn. a tree of a middling size, with large leaves cut into five segments; remarkable for producing no flowers previous to the fruit; growing spontaneously in the warmer climates, and cultivated in our gardens.
Figs are accounted moderately nutrimental, grateful to the stomach, and easier of digestion than any of the other sweet fruits. Their principal medicinal use is as a lubricating emollient sweet; in which intention, they are commonly made an ingredient in pectoral decoctions, and in lenitive electaries. They are employed externally, in cataplasms, for promoting the sup-puration of inflammatory tumours; for which purpose they appear to be equally adapted with other soft substances void of acrimony or irritation.
Carlina: a perennial plant, with long, narrow, deeply jagged, and very prickly leaves, lying on the ground; in the middle of which grows a large roundish head, without any stalk, encompassed with smaller leaves, full of sharp prickles: the flower issues from the middle of the head.
1. Carlina five Chamaeleon albus. Carlina acaulos magna flore C. B. Carlina acaulis Linn.
Cardopatium. Carline thistle: with the flower composed of a number of white petals set round a middle disk. It is a native of the mountainous parts of Italy and Germany, from whence the dried roots are sometimes brought to us. These are about an inch thick, externally of a rusty or reddish brown colour, internally of a pale yellowish or brownish, corroded as it were upon the surface, and perforated with small holes, so as to appear, when cut, as if worm-eaten.
The roots of carline thiftle have a moderately strong, not agreeable smell; and a weak, bit-terish, subacrid, somewhat aromatic taste. In-fusions of them in water have very little taste, and not much smell: distilled with water, they yield a two-hundredth part of their weight, or a little more, of a thick ponderous essential oil, which, on being rectified or redistilled, leaves a considerable proportion of resinous matter and becomes thin(a): the decoction, remaining after the separation of this most active principle of the root, is unpleasantly bitterish and subsaline, though only weakly so even when in-fpiffated to an extract. A tincture and extract prepared with rectified spirit are stronger in taste than those made with water, but have little smell. Both the watery infusion and extract are of a brownish yellow colour, the spirituous of a deep gold yellow.
This root is supposed to be diaphoretic, anti-hysteric, and anthelmintic. It has been greatly esteemed by some foreign physicians in acute malignant as well as in chronical diseases; and given in substance from a scruple to a dram, and in infusion from one to two drams and more. It never came much into use among us, and is now rarely to be met with in the shops. Frederic Hoffman the elder relates, that he has known a decoction of it in broth excite vomiting(a), but does not mention the quantity which produced this effect.
(a) Neumann, Chem. works, p. 406.
2. Carlina gummifera; Carduus pinea; Ixine. Carlina acaulos gummifera C. B. Chamaeleo albus dioscoridis Columnae. Atractylis gummifera Linn. Pine thistle: with the flowers composed of purplish flofculi, like those of the common thistle. It is a native of Italy and the island of Candy.
The roots of the pine thistle are larger than those of the carline, and of a stronger smell. Wounded when fresh, they yield a viscous milky juice, which concretes into tenacious masses, at first whitish and resembling wax, when much handled growing black, supposed to be the ixion, ixia, and acanthina mastiche of the ancients. The juice, in taste and smell not ungrateful, is said to have been formerly chewed for the same purposes as maftich; and the root itself to be of the same virtue with that of the preceding species.
Carpobalsamum. The fruit of the tree that yields the balsam of Gilead. It is about the size of a small pea, with a short pedicle; of a roundish or oval figure, pointed at the top; composed of a dark brown or reddish black, wrinkled bark, marked with four ribs from top to bottom, and a whitish or yellowish medullary substance(a).
(a) Clavis Scbraeder. p. 431.
This fruit, when in perfection, is said to have a pleasant warm, bitterish taste, and a fragrant smell resembling that of the balsam itself. But such as is now and then met with in the shops, (for it is but rarely to be met with there) has almost wholly lost both its smell and taste. It is no otherwise made use of in this country than as an ingredient in mithridate and theriaca; in both which, its place is commonly supplied by materials of more efficacy than itself: some direct juniper berries, the London college cubebs, for its substitute.