(A diminutive of laurus, laurel; which it resembles,) mezerion, chamaelaea, thy-melaa folio deciduo, mezereon. spurge olive, widow wail; Daphne mezereum Lin. Sp. Pl. 509; is a small tree, or bush, with pale purplish or white flowers, followed by bay shaped leaves; flowers in January; the berries, called cocci cnidii, ripen in August and September. This plant, especially when fresh, if retained in the mouth, and chewed a little, is so very acrid as to occasion violent heat and inflammation in the fauces and throat. The berries have the same effects, and when swallowed prove a most destructive poison. The bark and berries have been long applied externally, in different forms, to old and ill conditioned sores. The former is strongly recommended in France as an application to the skin, producing, by proper management, a serous discharge, without blistering, which may be continued as a perpetual blister, with less pain and inconvenience than the cantharides. It has been used as a seton in inflammations of the eyes. The recent bark, about three quarters of an inch broad, and one inch long, after macerating a little time in vinegar, is applied for this purpose to the skin; over which is placed an ivy or plantain leaf; and the application is renewed night and morning till it brings on a serous discharge. A renewal once in twenty-four hours is afterwards sufficient to continue it.
A decoction of the cortical part of the fresh roots is a powerful remedy in many venereal symptoms, especially when assisted by the hydrargyrus muriatus. The best grows in a light soil. An ounce of the fresh gathered bark must be boiled in twelve pints of water to eight; and at the end of the boiling an ounce of liquorice root added: of the strained liquor half a pint may be drunk four times a day. Dr. Russel strongly recommends the use of this decoction, particularly when nocturnal pains are violent in the syphilis; and for washing those nodes which proceed from a thickening of the membrane of the bones. See Lewis's Materia Medica; London Medical Observations and Inquiries, vol. iii. p. 189, etc.
It is said to cure the remains of the lues venerea, where mercury has failed. Dr. Cullen and Dr. Home found it not only cure scirrhous tumours, and obstinate ulcers, which remain after the venereal disease, but that it sometimes healed scirrhi from other causes. In cutaneous affections, in chronic rheumatisms, and palsy, it has sometimes been successful. In the case of a difficulty of swallowing, thought to be occasioned by a paralytic affection, Dr. Withering directed a thin slice of this root to be chewed as often as the woman could bear it. Though the complaint had been of three years standing, she was relieved within a few weeks.
Laureola mas, chamaedaphne, eupetalon, thymelaea, laurifolia semper virens, daphnoides, spurge laurel, daphne laureola Lin. Sp. Pl. 510; is a small shrub: its leaves are less than those of the laurel, and the flowers consist of one leaf, which is greenish, and appear in April; the berries open in September. The leaves, berries, and bark, are highly acrid, burning and inflaming the mouth: if swallowed, they vomit and purge. See Raii Historia; Lewis's Materia Medica.