This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Fel five Bills. Gall or Bile: a bitter animal juice, secreted from the blood in the liver, and collected in a particular receptacle. The galls of the ox, the eel, and the pike fish, have been chiefly made use of in medicine.
This fluid mingles uniformly with water, spirit of wine, fist alkaline lixivia, and volatile alkaline spirits, without change of its yellow colour. The concentrated mineral acids coagulate and render it whitish: diluted acids, those at lead of the vegetable and animal kingdom, change it green: the addition of alkalies to the green mixtures restores the natural yellow colour of the bile. Inspissated by heat, it dis-solves almost totally in water, but is more sparingly acted upon by rectified spirit(a). It renders oily, unctuous, and resinous substances miscible with watery liquor; preserves milk from coagulating or turning four, and redis-solves it when already coagulated. Such at least are the properties of the gall of the ox: how far that of other animals agrees with or differs from it in these respects, is not known (b).
This Simulating resolvent bitter has been given, and as is said with good success, for opening obstructions of the viscera, promoting urine, the menses, and labour pains: in this last intention, the gall of the eel, which is said to be one of the mod acrid, has been chiefly recommended. Boerhaave relates, that he has cured pale ricketty children by pills made of the galls of the eel and the pike; that the medicine operated powerfully by urine; and that, by its use, the belly, before swelled, subsided fur-prizingly(c). In want of appetite and other complaints proceeding from a deficiency of bile in the first passages, this animal bitter may probably be of more service, than those of the vegetable kingdom usualiy directed in such intentions. Among us these fluids are employed only for external purposes: a mixture of ox gall with camphorated spirit of wine is said to be an useful embrocation for sprains, bruises, rheumatic pains, etc.
(a) Cartheufer, Fundamenta mat. med. fect, ix. cap. i. Edit. Paris, torn. i. p. 519.
(b) Vide Baglivi, Differtattones variae, diff. iii. de experiment. circa bilem. Opp. p. 428, feqq.
(c) Praxis medica, torn. i. p. 164.