The General Use of Physic of the Temperature of Medicines
I SHALL desire thee, whoever thou art, that intendest the noble (though too much abused) study of physic, to mind heedfully these following rules; which being well understood, shew thee the Key of Galen and Hippocrates their method of physic: he that useth their method, and is not heedful of these rules, may soon cure one disease, and cause another more desperate.
That thou mayest understand what I intend, it is to discover in a general way of the manifest virtues of medicines.
I say of the manifest virtues, and qualities, viz. such as are obvious to the senses, especially to the taste and smell: for it hath been the practice of most Physicians, in these latter ages as well as ours, to say, when they cannot give, nor are minded to study a reason, why an herb, plant, &c. hath such an operation, or produces such an effect in the body of man: It doth it by an hidden quality, for they not minding the whole creation, as one united body, not knowing what belongs to astral influence, not regarding that excellent harmony the only wise God hath made in a composition of contraries (in the knowledge of which consists the whole ground and foundation of physic) are totally led astray by Tradition.
It is the manifest qualities of medicines that here I am to speak to, and you may be pleased to behold it in this order.
SECTION 1. Of the Temperature of Medicines
SECTION 2. Of the appropriation of Medicines
SECTION 3. Of the Properties of Medicines
Of the Temperature of Medicines
HERBS, plants, and other medicines manifestly operate, either by heat, coldness, dryness, or moisture, for the world being composed of so many qualities, they and only they can be found in the world, and the mixtures of them one with another.
But that they may appear as clear as the sun when he is upon the meridian, I shall treat of them severally, and in this order:
1. Of Medicines temperate.
2. Of Medicines hot.
3. Of Medicines cold.
4. Of Medicines moist.
5. Of Medicines dry.
Of Medicines Temperate
If the world be composed of extremes, then it acts by extremes, for as the man is, so is his work: therefore it is impossible that any medicine can be temperate, but may be reduced to heat, cold, dryness, or moisture, and must operate, (I mean such as operate by manifest quality) by one of these, because there is no other to operate by, and that there should be such a temperate mixture, so exquisitely of these qualities in any medicine, that one of them should not manifestly excel the other, I doubt it is a system too rare to find.
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