( almond,) almonds.
The fruit of the amygdalus, almond tree. A com-munis and nana Lin. Sp. Pl. 677.
Amygdalae dulces. Sweet almonds.
The leaves and flowers of the almond tree resemble those of the peach tree, a species of the same genus, a. persica Lin. Sp. Pl. 676. It is a native of Africa, and flowers earlier in the spring than most other trees, though its fruit is not quite ripe until autumn.
Of the fruit we have two sorts, the sweet and the bitter; which are varieties, only changing these qualities with the soil. It is the amygdalus communis Lin. Sp. Pl. 677. The almonds from Barbary, where the tree is indigenous, are bitter, while those cultivated in Europe are sweet.
The bitter matter resides in the mucilage, and dissolves with a little heat in water and in spirit of wine: a part arises with both in distillation; but spirit seems to extract, and water to elevate, the greatest quantity. A simple water may be distilled from them after the oil is pressed out, possessing the same qualities as that drawn from cherry stones. It is not, however, at present employed. The flavour, when required, is obtained from peach or laurel leaves.
The distilled water of bitter almonds is strongly impregnated with the noxious matter which gives them their bitterness and flavour. It seems by some late experiments to consist of the Prussic acid, and may prove a poison, as is the case with the common laurel, to which it appears extremely analogous. Four or five bitter almonds are commended as anthelmintic, taken in a morning fasting: they are said to be diuretic, but occasion sickness and vomiting; to dogs, foxes, fowls, storks, horses, especially while very young, to pigeons, cats, and some other animals, they are poisonous.
The sweet kind should be chosen free from rancidity; and, if in the shells, from all appearance of insects, a species of which penetrates them, and destroys the kernel. They digest with difficulty, and afford very little nourishment, unless extremely well comminuted. As a medicine they obtund acrimony in the primae viae, are softening, and relaxant. They are a good intermedium for uniting with water several substances, which of themselves are not miscible with it: camphor, and many resinous substances, triturated with almonds, easily dissolve into a milky liquor. For this purpose the almonds must be freed from their skin, but it should not be by infusing them in hot water, as this separates the oil. A longer infusion in cold water is preferable. Six or eight sweet almonds peeled som"times cure the heart-burn; and one or two almonds at most will mix five or six grains of camphor or resin.
Sweet almonds arc usually blanched, i. e. freed from their skin, by steeping them in hot water until it easily slips off: then triturated with water, their oil unites therewith, by the mutation of their mucilaginous and farinaceous matter, into an emulsion or milky liquor.
The pure oil of almonds, triturated with a thick mu-ilage of gum arabic, forms a more permanent emul-rion than the milk of almonds of the dispensatories; from which the oil does not separate either on standing two or three days, or on the addition of a moderate quantity of acid. One part of gum, made into mucilage, is enough for four parts of oil. The white of egg, or syrup, with a little spirituous water, will form an emulsion, but less perfect than the gum.
Gum arab. pulv. 3 ss. aq. distillatae 3 i. mu-cilago per trituram, et adde ol. amygd. 3 i. ss. sacch. alb. ss. postea paulatim adde aq. distillatae Њ i. f. emuts. If to this emulsion half an ounce of gum arabic be added, it is called arabic emulsion; if half an ounce of chalk, it is named the absorbent emulsion; if half a drachm of camphor, it is called the camphorated emulsion.
The emulsions partake of the quality of the oil, and are prescribed with the same intentions, particularly relieving heat of urine and the strangury, whether from spontaneous acrimony, or irritating food or medicines.
These emulsions, on standing, throw up a cream, and the whey beneath turns sour. Acids joined to them form curd and whey, as in milk.
The milky solution of almonds in water, though containing oil, may be given in acute and inflammatory fevers, without danger of the ill effects which the oil by itself may produce, since emulsions do not become rancid, or acrid by heat; and in most cases the aces-cency is rather an advantage in the emulsion.
The expressed oil of almonds is obtained fromthe sweet or the bitter sorts equally. The oil of bitter almonds was called metopium, because the Egyptians used to make an oil in which bitter almonds and galbanum were ingredients; and they named their compound, oil of metopium, from the plant that affords the galbanum: others give the same name to the simple expressed oil of this fruit.
By bruising and pressing the almonds, they afford nearly one half of their weight in oil: by boiling them in water, part of their oil separates, and is collected on the surface; but that obtained by pressure, without heat, is the most agreeable.
As a medicine, this oil is useful externally; like that of the olives and linseed, it is used to soften and relax the skin; internally, to sheathe acrimonious bile, orother fluids, to relieve a tickling cough, hoarseness, costive-ness, or nephritic pains. Oils are given in the form of emulsion, the proportion of two ounces to half a pint of water, and sweetened with half an ounce of some agreeable syrup. Draughts of manna and oil of almonds, at the same time using the common emulsion as the usual drink, are of service in the gravel, and in dysuries. The tenesmus, to which some pregnant women are subject, and which endangers abortion, is most speedily relieved by clysters of it, with a few drops of laudanum. The-besius thought that he found good effects from almonds in hydrophobia, and Bergius speaks of the emulsion of bitter almonds curing obstinate intermittents after the bark had proved unsuccessful.
Amygdalae, and Amygdalia. See Tonsillae.