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This webpage reproduces an attachment to
De Medicina (On Medicine)

A. Cornelius Celsus

published in Vol. II
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1938

The text is in the public domain.

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(Vol. II) Celsus
On Medicine

List of Medicamenta

(References are to volumes and pages of text)


Abrotonum (Habrotonum); Artemisia abrotonum; southernwood.

This yields a bitter oil resembling that of hops and was used internally as a carminative, I.316, 386, and topically to clean wounds, II.6, 10, and to relieve gout, II.30.

Absinthium; Artemisia absinthium.

The twigs supply wormwood; the dried flowers wormseed, from which the bitter oil, absinth, was distilled; this was taken with honey as a carminative and diuretic, I.204, 210, 316, 340, 382, 398, 400, 414, 416, 422, II.64. It was a remedy against worms, I.438; santonin, made from certain species of artemisia is still used for this purpose. Wines were flavoured with it to make them keep, I.498. The harmfulness of the modern absinth liqueurs is due to the deleterious alcohol used in their manufacture.

Acacia; Acacia Arabica.

The gum mucilage from this, which included astringent tannin, was used to arrest bleeding and agglutinate wounds, II.4, as an exedent, II.8, and generally as an astringent gum in eye salves and lozenges. The juice was also used, II.190 note, 196.

Acetum; vinegar.

As a drink, I.196 ff.; used constantly both externally and internally, I.212, 258, 270, 286, 292, 308, 310, 338, 346, 366, 388, 390, 394, 398, 406, 416, 438, 458; mentioned, II.4, 8, as a styptic and exedent.

Achariston; name of a salve, II.194 and note b.

Acopa; Anodynes, substances to deaden pain, II.56 note b. See Anodyna.

Acorus; Acorus calamus; sweet flag.

The rhizome was dried and eaten, or the oil pressed out of it; it is included among diuretics, III.316, as an ingredient in an antidote, II.56, and perhaps (under the name of calamus Alexandrinus) in an anodyne salve, II.56.

Adurentia (medicamenta quae adurunt, caustics); a list of these is given, II.8, see also 130 ff.

Aes Cyprium or Cuprum; copper.

Many forms of this were used in prescriptions:

  1. Aerugo; basic subacetate and carbonate of copper or verdigris. This was scraped off sheets of copper which had been steeped in vinegar and used as an astringent, repressive or caustic, II.4, 6, 8.

  2. Chalcitis; basic carbonate and sulphate of copper, copperas or green vitriol. This was mixed with oak bark or galls to make atramentum sutorium, blacking, and used as a caustic and exedent, to arrest haemorrhage, to clean wounds and form a scar, II.4, 6, 8, 10.

  3. Aes combustum; calcined copper ore. This was used as an erodent, II.8; or was fused with salt, sulphur or alum into a sulphate chloride and oxide of copper and used to make emollients and eye salves, II.10, 194, 2024, 210‑14.

  4. Flos aeris or Chalcanthus; red oxide of copper. This substance was like millet seeds and was produced by pouring cold water on molten copper and used as an exedent, II.8, or as an agglutinant for wounds, II.8, 10, 44.

  5. Squama aeris; black oxide of copper, copper scales. These were chipped off molten copper, and when washed, pounded and dried acted as a mechanical aperient, I.168.

  6. Chrysocolla; borate, carbonate and silicate of copper, gold solder. This was used as an erodent and caustic, II.8.

  7. Diphryges; sulphide and oxide of copper, mixed with iron and zinc ores. This was used as an exedent and caustic and for cleaning ulcerations, II.8, 50.

  8. Stomoma; red oxide of copper, copper scales hardened in the fire. These were used to arrest haemorrhage and in making an eye salve, II.4, 194.

  9. Psoricum; itch salve, consisted of chalcitis and cadmia (see below Cadmia) boiled together in vinegar to form hydrated oxides of copper and zinc, and then buried underground till used, II.218, 220; the preparation was also applied to the eyelids, II.220.

Alyconium; II.8, 28, 174; probably a species of coral, perhaps leather coral. It was incinerated to produce quick lime and used as an exedent and for skin diseases.

Alipe; plasters without grease, II.32.

Allium; Allium nigrum, garlic.

As a food, I.192 ff.; 490; a febrifuge, I.276; see also I.208, 330, 370, 390, 424, 436, 438, 448; used topically as an erodent, II.8.


  1. Aquilaria agallocha, lign-aloe.
           The perfumed wood of this yields an oil and decays into a resin used in making incense and also (as it was rich in tannin) applied as a topical astringent; to suppress haemorrhage, II.6, to agglutinate wounds, II.44, and as an ingredient in eye salves, II.194, 196, 212, and ear lotion, II.232.

  2. Aloe Socotrina; aloen.
           This was (and still is) used as an aperient, I.62.

Alumen; Aluminium sulphate and silicate; alum.

The following varieties were used:

  1. Alumen liquidum; alum brine, a styptic, II.4.

  2. Alumen scissile (schiston); split or feathery alum, a repressive, II.4, 44.

  3. Alumen rotundum; round alum; an epispastic and erodent, II.6 and 10.

  4. Pumex; silicate and carbonate of aluminium (and any alkalies), pumice. This had been formed by volcanic action and was used for cleaning wounds or as an epispastic, II.6, 24, 28.

  5. Lapis Phrygius; rock alum from Phrygia and Cappadocia coloured by iron and copper sulphates; an exedent, II.8; in an eye salve, 218.

  6. Alum earths; terra Eretria, II.10, 180; terra Cimolia, glutinous hydrated silicate of aluminium coloured by iron and colour, I.212, 304; II.4, 102, 124, 184, 534; terra Melia, silicate of aluminium (alumen Melinum), II.2, 288; cf. Pliny, N. H. XXXV.188.87, also Hippocrates, Ulcers, 11, 12 (Littré VI.412, 414); terra Lemnia, silicates and sulphates of aluminium, magnesia and iron; the well known rubrica Lemnica, red ochre, was exported in packets stamped with the figure of a goat, as the colour due to oxide of iron was ascribed to an admixture of goat's blood; similarly terra Samia, alum earth from Samos, was exported with a star stamped upon it, II.204 note.

Alvum ducunt, medicamenta quae; purgatives and enemas, I.62, 168, 172, 208; II.10; see below, Purgatio and General Index, Clyster, Enema.

Amaracus; Origanum majorana, sweet marjoram. Used as a discutient, II.10.

Ambrosia; name of an antidote (so called from its success in preserving life), II.54.

Ammoniacum (Hammoniacum) thymiatum; Dorema ammoniacum or Ferula Tingitana, silphium.

The milky juice of this plant (especially cultivated around the temple of Jupiter Ammon) was used for incense; it formed a resin containing salicylic acid and a volatile oil which was much used by Celsus, as a cleanser of wounds, II.6, and a discutient and emollient, II.16‑30, and in poultices and plasters, II.36, 38, and eye salves, II.210, 214, 216.

Ammoniacum sal; see Sal.

Amomum; see Cardamomum.

Anastomotica; openers of pores, II.6 note, 26.

Anesum; Pimpinella anisum, anise.

Aniseed (still a common flavouring) is indigestible as a food, I.200 ff., 490; used against flatulence and as a diuretic, I.206, 210, 340, 418.

Anethum; Anethum graveolens, dill.

Among foods, I.200 ff., 208, 448, 490, 491; as a diuretic, I.210, 488; as a snuff, I.272.

Anodyna; Anodynes (see Acopa, also Hyoscyamus, Mandragora, Papaver, Solanum).

  1. Prescriptions given as pills, II.58; see also I.211.

  2. Used topically, I.458, also II.56 note, 191.

Antherae; preparations from flower blossoms, II.254 note, 258, 260, 264, 272.

Antidota; antidotes, II.54, note, 56.

The word is not used when remedies against individual poisons are described, II.122.

Antiseptics; essential oils from aromatic plants and trees; especially cedar, cinnamon, juniper, pine, thyme, used for their antiseptic qualities, IIXII.

Apium; Apium graveolens, celery or Petroselinum sativum, parsley.

As a diuretic, I.210; see also I.416, 48, 450, 491.

Apyron; see Sulphur.

Argenti spuma; Papaver argemone, prickly poppy.

The soothing mucilage of this contains a small amount of opium and was applied to poisonous stings, II.120.

Argenti spuma; see Plumbum.º

Arida Medicamenta; dry drugs pounded, used as dusting powders, II.48; and blown through a quill, II.156, III.448; or formed into pastiles by means of a little fluid, II.14.

Aristolochia; A. longa and A. rotunda, birthwort.

The root yields an irritant glucoside, which was used in poultices and plasters, II.20, 30, 34, 38, 46, 50, 52, 62.

Aromata; Dried aromatic flowers imported from abroad, I.316; II.14, 212.

Armoracia; Cochlearia armoracia, horse radish.

This was prescribed as a remedy for spleen affections, I.416; II.106.

Arsenicon; see Auripigmentum.

Arteriace; a medicine for the windpipe, II.64, note b.

Arundo (Harundo); Arundo donax, polereed.

The juice of the root was used for earache, II.228; its splinters were dangerous, II.106‑8.

Asafoetida; see Laser.

Asclepion; name of a salve, II.214.

Aspalathus; Calcycotoma villosa.

A decoction from the rose-scented wood of this (lignum rhodium) was applied to painful sinews, II.58.

Atramentum; blacking;

  1. A. scriptorium, ink made from the soot of torches, used as an application for baldness, II.182.

  2. A. sepiarium, cuttle-fish ink, used as an aperient, I.208.

  3. A. sutorium, see Aes, 2.

Auripigmentum; As2S3,º the yellow trisulphide of arsenic, orpiment; sandaraca, As2S2, the golden disulphide of arsenic, sandarach (modern realgar), which becomes orpiment when heated.

The two forms were used alternatively in prescriptions (in some both were included) for cleaning wounds, and as erodents, caustics and counter irritants, II.6, 10, 28, 50, 52; they were used in the treatment of all sorts of ulcerations, II.154, 162, 208, 246, 264, 286, 290.

Celsus does not mention them in his chapter on poisons, II.110 ff.; nor does he refer to the poisonous arsenious oxide, white arsenic, produced by the oxidation of orpiment and sandarach which was known to Geber in A.D. 750, but was perhaps not in use earlier.

Balanos myrepsica (βάλανος μυρεψική), or Myrobalanos; Hyperanthera decandra, bennut.

The rind was used for spleen disease, I.416; II.18, an ointment was also made from it, II.110 note.

Balsamum; Balsamodendron opobalsamum, balsam of Mecca; B. myrrha, myrrh.

The resin of these trees was known as opobalsam and an almost equally valuable essence was obtained by boiling the wood, leaves and seeds (xylobalsam).

It was used internally as a diuretic, I.316, and the seeds in an antidote, II.54, 56; externally as an erodent, suppurative, wound cleaner and emollient, II.6, 8, 12, also in poultices, II.16, 20, and as a remedy for neuralgia, II.58, and in an eye salve, II.220.

Basilicon; a name given to a plaster, II.32, and to an eye salve, II.218, 220.

Bdella or Bdellium; Borassus flabelliformis, the Palmyra palm.

This tree yields a resin like ammoniacum which was used for incense. Celsus used it externally as a pore-opener, epispastic and emollient, II.6, 10, 18.

Bitumen; found in the Dead Sea and Euphrates valley.

This was used on plasters as a mild counter irritant, I.348; II.6, 10, 32, 34, 40, 44, 250.

Cachry; perhaps the fruit of the herb Libanotis (Lecokia Cretica), the medicinal uses of which are given by Theophrastus, Enq. into Plants, IX, II.10.

Used by Celsus in a prescription for abscesses, II.18.

Cadmia (terra);

Zinc ores from Cyprus, which when heated in water produced carbonates and hydrosilicates of zinc; these stuck to the reed (calamus) with which the mixture was stirred, and so the name "calamine" is still applied to zinc lotions. Cadmia, when heated, gave off zinc oxide vapour which was sublimated and adhered to the wall of the furnace in clusters; these consisted of oxide of zinc and were scraped off and known as spodium (ash).

Cadmia was used as an exedent, desiccant and extractive, II.6, 50, 344, and in the treatment of malignant ulceration, II.154; the clusters (botruites Cadmiae, spodium) to relieve irritation, II.10, 166, and also for eye salves, II.194, 204; III.344, and for earache, II.234.


  1. C. Alexandrinus, see Acorus.

  2. C. scriptorius, a reed or quill pen, see list II.

Calefacientia; heating foods, medicines or applications; I.62, 206, 214; II.16.

Calx; limestone;

  1. Calx viva; calcium oxide, quick lime; an exedent and caustic, II.8

  2. Cinis, ash, princed by burning various substances containing lime; e.g. stag's horn (cornu cervinum), used as an exedent, erodent and caustic, II.6, 8, see also Alcyonium, Corallium, Salamandra.

  3. Limestone from Assus, used as a preservative, see index of proper names, Assus.

  4. Saxum calcis; silicates of lime, and magnesia, asbestos; used as an application for a hardened fistula, II.154.

  5. Lapis molaris; millstone, used as a discutient, II.10

  6. Lapis pyrites; limestone mixed with sulphides, used as a discutient, emollient, and to relieve irritation, II.10, 22, 166.

  7. Gypsum; the sulphate mixed with the carbonate of lime, plaster of Paris, used as an external refrigerant and repressive, II.212; III.304.

Campana sertula; see Sertula.

Canina lingua; Cynoglossum officinale, hounds-tongue.

The leaves yield a bitter astringent juice, which was applied to burns, II.24

Canopus; name of a salve, II.214.

Cantabrica herba; see Scammonea.

Cantharides; Cantharis or Lytta vesicatoria, Spanish fly.

Used externally as a caustic and cleanser for wounds and papules, II.8, 50, 172. If taken internally it was poisonous, and remedies are prescribed for it, II.122.

Carbo hirundinis; see Hirundo.


  1. Amomum cardamomum subulatum; Nepaul pepper, I.296; II.20, 22.

  2. Elateria cardamomum, cardamon.

    The seeds (brought from Malabar and ceylon) produce an aromatic oil, used internlly as a diuretic, I.316, and externally as a counter-irritant, agglutinant, erodent and emollient, II.4, 8, 12.

Casia, Cassia; see cinnamon.


A material derived from the genitals of the Castor fiber, beaver. It had a pungent taste, suggesting musk, was used internally as a stimulant, I.286, 310, 338, 376, 448, externally in eye and ear salves, II.196, 240.

Cataplasma; poultice, I.214. See also Malagma.

Catapotium; pill, I.316; II.58‑64. Eight of the prescriptions are to procure sleep or relieve pain, four for cough.

Cedrus; Juniperusº communis.

The oil from the berries was used externally as a discutient, II.10, and in poultices for gout, II.30.

Centaurios; Centaurea salonitana, centaury.

The bitter juice from the roots was used internally against snake bite, II.120, and externally for ear discharge, II.230.

Cera; wax, used as a discutient, emollient and to form flesh, II.10. See also I.272, 368, 378, 384, 410, 442, 446, 448, 458, 460; ceratum, cerate, an ointment made with wax.

Cerussa; see Plumbum.

Chamaeleon; Atractylis gummifera, a thistle, whose gum (similar to mastic and birdlime) was used in a poultice for gout, II.30.

Chamaepitys; Ajuga chamaepitys.

This yields a bitter astringent juice, like pine resin, used as a pore opener, II.6.

Charta combusta; see Papyrus.

Page updated: 23 Oct 07