They believed in light suppers—
Great suppers will the stomach's peace impair ; Wouldst lightly rest, curtail thine evening fare.
With regard to the interval between meals, the Salernitan rule was, wait until your stomach is surely empty :
Eat not again till thou dost certain feel Thy stomach freed of all its previous meal. This mayst thou know from hunger's teasing call, Or mouth that waters—surest sign of all.
Pure air and sunlight were favourite tonics at Salerno:
Let air you breathe be sunny, clear, and light, Free from disease or cess-pool's fetted blight.
Taking " a hair of the dog that bit you " was, however, a maxim with Salernitans for the cure of potation headaches.
Art sick from vinous surfeiting at night ? Repeat the dose at morn, 'twill set thee right.
The tradition with regard to the difficulty of the digestion of pork, which we are trying to combat in the modern time, had already been established at Salerno. The digestibility of pork could, however, be improved by good wine.
Inferior far to lamb is flesh of swine, Unqualified by gen'rous draughts of wine ; But add the wine, and lo ! you'll quickly find In them both food and medicine combined.
Milk for consumptives was a favourite recommendation. The tradition had come down from very old times, and Galen insisted that fresh air and milk and eggs was the best possible treatment for consumption. The Salernitan physicians recommended various kinds of milk, goat's, camel's, ass's, and sheep's milk as well as cow's. It is probable, as I pointed out in my " Psychotherapy," that the mental influence of taking some one of the unusual forms of milk did a good deal to produce a favourable reaction in consumptives, who are so prone to be affected favourably by unusual remedies. The Regimen warned, however, that milk will not be good if it produces headache or if there is fever. Apparently some patients had been seen with the idiosyncrasy for milk, and the tendency to constipation and disturbance after it which have been noted also in the modern time.
Goat's milk and camel's, as by all is known, Relieve poor mortals in consumption thrown ; While ass's milk is deemed far more nutritious, And e'en beyond all cow's or sheep's, officious. But should a fever in the system riot, Or headache, let the patient shun this diet.
Salerno's common sense with regard to diet is very well illustrated by a number of maxims. Diet tinkering was not much in favour.
We hold that men on no account should vary.
Their daily diet until necessary :
For, as Hippocrates doth truly show,
Diseases sad from all such changes flow.
A stated diet, as it is well known,
Of physic is the strongest cornerstone— <
By means of which, if you can nought impart,
Relief or cure, vain is your Healing Art.
They believed firmly that many of the conditions of eating were quite as important as the diet itself, and said :
Doctors should thus their patients' food revise— What is it ? When the meal ? And what its size? How often ? Where ? lest, by some sad mistake, Ill-sorted things should meet and trouble make.
They recommended the various simples, mallow, mint, sage, rue, the violet for headache and catarrh, the nettle, mustard, hyssop, elecampane, pennyroyal, cresses, celandine, saffron, leeks—a sovereign remedy for sterility—pepper, fennel, vervaine, henbane, and others. There were certain special affections, as hoarseness, catarrh, headaches, fistula, for which specific directions for cure were given. Here for instance are the directions to be given a patient suffering from rheum or catarrh. The verses conveyed interesting information with nice long names for the various affections, as well as the directions for its management.
Fast well and watch. Eat hot your daily fare, Work some, and breathe a warm and humid air ; Of drink be spare; your breath at time suspend ; These things observe if you your cold would end. A cold whose ill-effects extend as far As in the chest, is known as a catarrh; Bronchitis, if into the throat it flows; Coryza, if it reach alone the nose.
The Regimen conveyed a deal of information in compact form. It gives the number of bones in the body as 219 with 32 teeth, and the number of veins as 365, this number being chosen doubtless because of some supposed relation to the number of days in the year. It contains also a good brief account of the four humours in the human body— black bile, blood, phlegm, and yellow bile; and of the four temperaments—the sanguine, the bilious, the phlegmatic, and the melancholy. These four temperaments were discussed at considerable length by all the psychologists and most of the writers on religious life for centuries afterwards, largely on the basis of the information conveyed by the Salernitan handbook. There are descriptions of the symptoms of plethora or excess of blood, of excess of bile, of excess of phlegm, and excess of black bile. The little volume finally contains discussions as to bleeding, its indications, contraindications, as in youth—" Ere seventeen years we scarce need drawing blood "—and in old age; and then of the mode of practising it, and the place whence the blood should be drawn to relieve different symptoms.*
* English translations of the Regimen were made in 1575, 1607, and 1617. The two latter were printed; the former exists in manuscript in the Library of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. The opening lines of the edition of 1607 deserve to be noted because they are the origin of an expression that has been frequently quoted since.
The Salerne Schoole doth by these lines impart All health to England's King, and doth advise From care his head to keepe, from wrath his harte. Drink not much wine, sup light, and soone arise. When meat is gone long sitting breedeth smart; And after noone still waking keepe your eies, When mou'd you find your selfe to nature's need, Forbeare them not, for that much danger breeds, Use three physitians still—first Dr. Quiets Neact Dr. Merry-man, and third Dr. Dyet.