2. Such medicines are said to make thick, as do not consume the moisture, but add dryness to it, as you make syrups into a thick electuary by adding powders to them.
3. Such as congeal, neither draw out the moisture, nor make it thick by adding dryness to it, but contract it by vehement cold, as water is frozen into ice.
4. Hardness differs from all these, for the parts of the body swell, and are filled with flegmatic humours, or melancholy blood, which at last grows hard.
That you may clearly understand this, observe but these two things.
1.What it is which worketh.
That which worketh is outwardly cold. That which is wrought upon, is a certain thickness and dryness, of humours, for if the humour were fluid as water is, it might properly be said to be congealed by cold, but not so properly hardened. Thus you see cold and dryness to be the cause of hardening. This hardening being so far from being useful, that it is obnoxious to the body of man. I pass it without more words. I suppose when Galen wrote of hardening medicines, he intended such as make thick, and therefore amongst them he reckons up Fleawort, Purslain, Houseleek, and the like, which assuage the heat of the humours in swellings, and stops subtil and sharp defluxions upon the lungs; but of these more anon.
Of Loosening Medicines
By loosening here, I do not mean purging, nor that which is opposite to astringency; but that which is opposite to stretching. I knew not suddenly what fitter English name to give it, than loosening or laxation, which latter is scarce English.
The members are distended or stretched divers ways, and ought to be loosened by as many, for they are stretched sometimes by dryness, sometimes by cold, sometimes by repletion or fullness, sometimes by swellings, and sometimes by some of these joined together. I avoid terms of art as much as I can, because it would profit my country but little, to give them the rules of physic in such English as they understand not.
I confess the opinion of ancient physicians hath been various about these loosening medicines. Galen's opinion was, that they might be referred either to moistening, or heating, or mollifying, or evacuating medicines, and therefore ought not to be referred to a chapter by themselves.
It is likely they may, and so may all other medicines be referred to heat, or coldness, or dryness, or moisture: but we speak not here of the particular properties of medicines, but of their joined properties, as they heat and moisten.
Others, they question how they can be distinguished from such as mollify, seeing such as are loosening, and such as are emolient, are both of them hot and moist.
To that, thus: stretching and loosening are ascribed to the moveable parts of the body, as to the muscles and their tendons, to the ligaments and Membranæ; but softness and hardness to such parts of the body as may be felt with the hand: I shall make clear by a similitude, Wax is softened, being hard, but Fiddle- strings are loosened being stretched. And if you say that the difference lying only in the parts of the body is no true difference, then take notice,
that such medicines which loosen, are less hot, and more moistening, than such as soften, for they operate most by heat, these by moisture.
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