The Art of the Apothecary
The Art of the Apothecary was as intricate and involved as the study of medicine itself. It was not uncommon for an apprentice to spend 7 years to learn all the aspects of the Art which involved everything from collecting, drying and preparing Medicines, to the preparation of numerous different compounds both Galenical and Chymical.
The following is again derived from Culpeper's English Physician Enlarged, with Commentary. The order has been changed to match the order used within the present Website.
1. All the Difference between Decoctions and Syrups made by Decoction, is this; Syrups are made to keep, Decoctions only for present Use; for you can hardly keep a Decoction a Week at any Time; if the Weather be hot, not half so long.
2. Decoctions are made of Leaves, Roots, Flowers, Seeds, Fruits or Barks, conducing to the Cure of the Disease you make them for; in the same Manner they are made as we shewed you in Syrups.
3. Decoctions made with Wine last longer than such as are made with Water; and if you take your Decoction to cleanse the Passages of the Urine, or open Obstructions, your best Way is to make it with White Wine instead of Water, because this is penetrating.
4. Decoctions are of most Use in such Diseases as lie is the Passages of the Body; as the Stomach, Bowels, Kidneys, Passages of Urine and Bladder, because Decoctions pass quicker to those Places than any other Form of Medicines.
5. If you will sweeten your Decoction with Sugar, or any Syrup fit for the Occasion you take it for, which is better, you may, and no Harm do.
6. If in a Decoction, you boil both Roots, Herbs, Flowers, and Seed together, let the Roots boil a good while first, be cause they retain their Virtue longest; then the next in Order by the fame Rule, viz. 1. Barks. 2. The Herbs. 3. The Seeds. 4. The Flowers. 5. The Species [powders], if you put any in, because their Virtues come soonest out.
7. Such Things as by boiling cause Sliminess. to a Decoction, as Figs, Quince Seed, Linseed, &c. your best way is after you have bruised them, to tie them up in a Linnen Rag, as you tie up a Calf's Brains, and so boil them.
8. Keep all Decoctions in a Glass close stopped, and in the
cooler Place you keep them, the longer they will last e'er they
Lastly. The usual Dose to be given at one Time, is usually Two, Three, Four, or Five Ounces, according to the Age and Strength for the Patient, the Season of the Year, the strength of the Medicine, and the Quality of the Disease.
Although Syrups have qualities that Decoctions don't, their original intention was to keep Decoctions for longer periods.
Decocting in Wine was more common in the West than in the East. Wine Decoction are better to carry the herbs into the Blood, and are stronger to open obstructions.
Decoctions are better for diseases of the hollow organs, but are also a good way to take large doses of medicines.
Decoctions can be sweetened with Honey or a suitable Syrup.
In general, Grains (such as Barley) are decocted first, followed by Roots and Fruits, then Barks, Herbs and Seeds, and lastly, aromatics such as Flowers, Peppermint, and Powders. In modern practice, they are often decocted together.
Mucilaginous things, as well as small seeds and things such as Saffron are tied in small bags to be decocted with the other medicines.
Decoctions will keep 3–5 days in the fridge; they are often dispensed in plastic bags in modern Chinese Hospitals, the bags being refrigerated and a weeks worth taken at a time.
In Western usage, standard Decoction were prepared and kept on hand, typically dispensed in doses of 3–5 ounces at a time.
1. A Syrup is a Medicine of a Liquid Form, composed of Infusion, Decoction and Juice. And, 1. For the more grateful Taste. 2. For the better keeping of it; with a certain Quantity of Honey or Sugar, hereafter mentioned, boiled to the Thickness of new Honey.
2. You see at the first View, That this Aphorism divides itself into three Branches, which deserve severally to be treated of; viz.
1. Syrups made by Infusion.
2. Syrups made by Decoction.
3. Syrups made by Juice.
Of each of these, (for your Instruction-sake, kind Countrymen and Women) I speak a Word, or two, or three apart.
First, Syrups made by Infusion, are usually made: of Flowers, and of such Flowers as soon lose their Colour and Strength by boiling, as Roses, Violets, Peach-Flowers, &c. My Translation of the London Dispensatory, will instruct you in the rest. They are thus made: Having picked your Flowers clean, to every Pound of them add three Pounds, or three Pints, which you will (for it is all one) of Spring Water, made boiling hot by the Fire; first put your Flowers into a Pewter Pot, with a Cover, and pour the Water to them; then shutting the Pot, let it stand by the Fire, to keep hot twelve Hours, and strain it out; (in such Syrups as purge, as Damask Roses, Peach Flowers, &c. the usual and indeed the best Way, is to repeat this Infusion, adding fresh Flowers to the same Liquor diverse Times, that so it may be the stronger) having strained it out, put the Infusion into a Pewter Bason, or an Earthen one well glazed, and to every Pint of it add two Pound of Sugar, which being only melted over the Fire, without boiling, and scummed, will produce you the Syrup you desire.
Secondly, Syrups made by Decoction are usually made of Compounds, yet may any simple Herb be thus converted into Syrup: Take the Herb, Root or Flowers you would make into a Syrup, and bruise it a little; then boil it in a convenient Quantity of Spring Water, the more Water you boil it in, the weaker it will be; a Handful of the Herb or Root, &c. is a convenient Quantity for a Pint of Water; boil it till Half the Water be consumed, then let it stand till it be almost cold; and strain it (being almost cold) thro' a woollen Cloth, letting it run out at Leisure, without pressing; to every Pint of this Decoction, add one Pound of Sugar, and boil it over the Fire till it come to a Syrup, which you may know, if you now and then cool a little of it in a Spoon; scum it all the While it boils, and when it is sufficiently boiled, whilst it is hot, strain it again through a woollen Cloth, but press it not. Thus you have the Syrup perfected.
Thirdly, Syrups made of Juices, are usually made of such Herbs as are full of Juice, and indeed they are better made into a Syrup this Way, than any other; the Operation is thus: Having beaten the Herb in a Stone Mortar, with a wooden Pestle, press out the Juice, and clarify it, as you are taught before in the Juices; then let the Juice boil away till a Quarter of it (or near upon) be consumed; to a Pint of this add a Pound of Sugar, and boil it to a Syrup, always scumming it, and when it is boiled enough, strain it through a woollen Cloth, as we taught you before, and keep it for your Use.
3. If you make Syrup of Roots that are any thing hard, as Parsley, Fennel, and Grass Roots, &c. when you have bruised them, lay them in steep some Time in that Water which you intend to boil them in, hot, so will the Virtue the better come out.
4. Keep your Syrups either in Glasses or Stone Pots, and stop them not with Cork nor Bladder, unless you would have the Glass break and the Syrup lost; and as many Opinions as there are in this Nation, I suppose there are few or none of this, only bind Paper about the Mouth.
5. All Syrups, if well made, continue a Year with some Advantage; yet of all, such as are made by Infusion, keep the least While.
Syrups are, as stated, a good way of preserving Decoctions for longer-term storage. However, overwhelmingly, Syrups are most typically prepared as medicines for the Lungs, and Cough in particular.
Syrups made form Infusions are generally of Flowers, but still don't keep well. So they may as well be prepared as simple Infusions with Honey added.
Syrups are typically made by decocting the root or herb, then preparing a Syrup by adding Honey or Sugar. To a Pint (500ml) of Decoction add 1 pound (500 grams) of Sugar or Honey, and boil to the thickness of Honey. To check the thickness, take a little of the Hot syrup on a cold metal spoon and allow to cool, or else drop a little onto a cold marble slab.
Syrup made of Juices are best and strongest. The Juice is gently boiled and clarified, then to 500mls of clarified Juice add 500 grams of Sugar (or Honey) and boil to the thickness of Honey.
As with Decoctions, steeping roots and barks before decocting helps to soften and 'open' them, this allowing for better extraction. This is still routinely practiced in TCM.
Syrups are best kept in the refrigerator.
1. That which the Arabians call Lobochs, and the Greeks Eclegma, the Latins call Linctus, and in plain English
signifies nothing else, but a Thing to be lick'd up.
2. Their first Invention was to prevent and remedy Afflictions of the Breast and Lungs, to cleanse the Lungs of Phlegm, and make it fit to be cast out.
3. They are in Body thicker than a Syrup, and not so thick as an Electuary.
4. The Manner of taking them is, often to take a little, with a liquorish Stick, and let it go down at Leisure.
5. They are easily thus made: Make a Decoction of pectoral Herbs, and the Treatise will furnish you with enough, and when you have strained it, with twice its Weight of Honey or Sugar, boil it to a Lohoch; if you are molested with much Phlegm, Honey is better than Sugar; and if you add a little Vinegar to it, you will do well if not, I hold Sugar to be better than Honey.
6. It is kept in Pots, and may be kept a Year, and longer.
7. It is excellent for Roughness of the Wind-pipe, Inflammations of the Lungs, Ulcers in the Lungs, Difficulty of Breath, Asthmas, Coughs, and Distillations of Humours.
These medicines were invented by the Greeks, and copied by the Latins and Arabs after.
They are specifically used as a licking medicine to soothe irritation of the throat and Lungs, and thereby relief Cough. In thickness, they are midway between a Syrup and Electuary. They were commonly sucked off a dried Licorice root.
Their manner of making is the same as Syrups, only a double weight of Honey or Sugar is added and they are boiled until thicker.
Adding a little Vinegar helps to better cut tough phlegm; when Honey and Vinegar are used, it is a type of Oxymel.
As already stated, they are useful as an adjunct in all diseases of the Lungs, other medicines being taken to correct the imbalance.
Physicians make more a Quoil than needs, by Half, about Electuaries. I shall prescribe but one general Way of making them up; as for the Ingredients, you may vary them as you please, and according as you find Occasion by the last Chapter.
1. That you may make Electuaries when you need them, it is requisite that you keep always Herbs, Roots, Seeds, Flowers, &c. ready dried in your House, that so you may be in a Readiness to beat them into Powder when you need them.
2. Your better Way is to keep them whole than beaten; for being beaten, they are the more subject to lose their strength; because the Air soon penetrates them.
3. If they be not dry enough to beat into Powder when you need them, dry them by a gentle Fire till they are so.
4. Having beaten them, sift them through a fine Tiffany Searce [sieve], that so there may be no great Pieces found in your Electuary.
5. To one Ounce of your Powder add three Ounces of clarified Honey; this Quantity I hold to be sufficient, I confess Authors differ about it. If you would make more or loss Electuary, vary your Proportion accordingly.
6. Mix them well together in a Mortar, and take this for a Truth, you cannot mix them too much.
7. The Way to clarify Honey, is to set it over the Fire in a convenient Vessel, till the Scum rise, and when the Scum is taken off, it is clarified.
8. The usual Dose of Cordial Electuaries, is from Half a Drachm to two Drachms; of purging Electuaries, from Half an Ounce to an Ounce.
9. The Manner of keeping them is in a Pot.
10. The Time of taking them, is either in a Morning fasting, and fasting an Hour after them; or at Night going to Bed, three or four Hours after Supper.
As noted, the preparation of some Electuaries was so involved that it was used as a test for Apothecaries to prove their skill. Some Electuaries involved decoction, juices, and powders in a precise order. Common Electuaries mix Powders into clarified Honey.
The freshly prepared Powder is sieved. Things such as nuts and the Cold seeds are sifted coarser than Herbs and Roots.
One part of Powder is generally mixed with 3 parts of Honey.
If the Honey is warmed before adding the Powder, it will mix better and quicker.
Honey was always clarified for use in Electuaries, partly to prevent fermentation that may occur when they are kept.
Typical dose is 2–8 grams, with 4 grams or a teaspoonful being a typical dose. Purging medicines are typically taken in doses of 15–25 grams.
Strengthening Electuaries are best taken in the morning before Breakfast; purging medicines, before bed.
1. The Way of making Conserves is twofold, one of Herbs and Flowers, and the other of Fruits.
2. Conserves of Herbs, and Flowers, are thus made: If you make your Conserves of Herbs, as of Scurvy-grass, Wormwood, Rue, and the like, take only the Leaves and tender Tops (for you may beat your Heart out before you can beat the Stalks small) and having beaten them, weigh them, and to every pound of them add three Pound of Sugar, beat them very well together in a Mortar, you cannot beat them, too much.
3. Conserve of Fruits, as of Barberries, Sloes, and the like, is thus made: First scald the Fruit, then rub the Pulp thro' a thick hair Sieve made for the Purpose, called a Pulping Sieve; you may do it for a Need with the Back of a Spoon; then take this Pulp thus drawn, and add to it its Weight of Sugar, and no more; put it in a Pewter Vessel, and over a
Charcoal Fire; stir it up and down till the Sugar be melted, and your Conserve is made.
4. Thus you have the way of making Conserves; the Way of keeping them is in Earthen Pots.
5. The Dose is usually the Quantity of a Nutmeg at a Time, Morning and Evening, or (unless they are Purging) when you please.
6. Of Conserves, some keep many Years, as Conserves of Roses; others but a Year, as Conserves of Borage, Bugloss, Cowslips, and the like.
7. Have a Care of the working of some Conserves presently after they are made, look to them once a Day, and stir them about; Conserves of Borage, Bugloss, Wormwood, have gotten an excellent Faculty at that Sport.
8. You may know when your Conserves are almost spoiled by this; you shall find a hard Crust at Top with little Holes in it, as though Worms had been eating there.
Conserves are simply a way of preserving the fresh qualities of herbs with sugar, without using Heat. They are most typically prepared form Herbs and Flowers, but can also be prepared from Fruits.
Three parts of Sugar is added to one part of cleansed fresh Herb, then the whole is beaten continuously until uniform. In modern days, a kitchen blender can be used to do more quickly.
When prepared from fruits, equal parts of Pulp and White Sugar are used.
Conserve of Roses was actually considered more Cordial as it got older, the freshly prepared being more purgative.
Of Preserves are sundry Sorts, and the Operations of all being somewhat different, we will handle them all apart.
These are preserved with Sugar.
1. Flowers are but very seldom preserved; I never saw any that I remember, save only Cowslip Flowers, and that was a great Fashion in Sussex when I was a Boy: It is thus done: First, take a flat Glass, we call them Jat Glasses; strew in a Laying of fine Sugar, on that a Laying of Flowers, on that another Laying of Sugar, on that another Laying of Flowers, so do till your Glass be full; then tie it over with a Paper, and in a little Time you shall have very excellent and pleasant Preserves.
There is another Way of preserving Flowers; namely, With Vinegar and Salt, as they pickle Capers and Broom bud.; but because I have little Skill in it myself, I cannot teach you.
2. Fruits, as Quinces, and the like, are preserved two Ways.
First, Boil them well in Water, and then pulp them thro' a Sieve, as we shewed you before; then with the like Quantity of Sugar, boil the Water they were boiled in into a Syrup, a Pound of Sugar to a Pint of Liquor; to every Pound of this Syrup, add four Ounces of the Pulp; then boil it with a very gentle Fire to their right Consistence, which you may easily know, if you drop a Drop of it upon a Trencher; if it be enough, it will not stick to your Fingers when it is cold.
Secondly, Another Way to preserve Fruits, is this: First,
pare off the Rind, then cut them in Halves, and take out the Core; then boil them in Water till they are soft; if you know when Beef is boiled enough, you may easily know when they are; then boil the Water with its like Weight of Sugar into a Syrup; put the Syrup into a Pot, and put the boiled Fruit as whole as you left it when you cut it in to it, and let it remain till you have Occasion to use it.
3. Roots are thus preserv'd: First, scrape them very clean, and cleanse them from the Pith, if they have any, for some Roots have not, as Eringo, and the like; boil them in Water till they be soft, as we shewed you before in the Fruits, then boil the Water you boiled the Root in into a Syrup, as we shewed you before, then keep the Root whole in the Syrup till you use them.
4. As for Barks, we have but few come to our Hands to be done, and those, of those few that I can remember, are Oranges, Lemons, Citrons, and the outer Bark of Walnuts, which grow without-side the Shell, for the Shells themselves would make but scurvy Preserves; these be they I can remember, if there be any more, put them into the Number.
The Way of preserving these, is not all one in Authors, for some are bitter, some are hot; such as are bitter, say Authors, must be soaked in warm Water, oftentimes changing till their bitter Taste be fled: But I like not this Way, and my Reason is this: because I doubt when their Bitterness is gone, so is their Virtue also; I shall then prescribe one common Way, namely, the same with the former,
viz. First boil them whole till they be soft, then make a Syrup with Sugar and the Liquor you boiled them in, and keep the Barks in the Syrup.
5. They are kept in Glasses, or in Glaz'd Pots.
6. The preserv'd Flowers will keep a Year, if you can forbear eating of them; the Roots and Barks much longer.
7. This art was plainly and first invented for Delicacy, yet came afterwards to be of excellent Use in Physick: For,
First, Hereby Medicines are made pleasant for sick and squeamish Stomachs, which else would loath them.
Secondly, Hereby they are preserv'd from decaying a long Time.
Note, that generally Preserves refer to the use of Heat, whereas Conserves use Sugar without Heat. Flowers are mostly prepared as Conserves, while Roots and Fruits are more commonly Preserved.
This way of preserving is properly a Pickle.
This is the same as given above under Conserves, only larger fruits like Quinces require boiling to soften, small fruits and berries only require a quick boil.
This is boiled fruit preserved in a syrup of the Fruit.
This again is boiled root preserved in a syrup of the root.
It was used as a way to somewhat preserve the fresh virtue of the medicine.
They are also more pleasant to take and are better for weak Stomachs.
1. The Latins call them Placentula, or little Cakes ... they are usually little round flat Cakes, or you may make them square if you will.
2. Their first Invention was, that Powders being so kept, might resist the lntremission of Air, and so endure pure the longer.
3. Besides, they are the easier carried in the Pockets of such, as travel; as many a Man (for Example) is forced to travel whose Stomach is too cold, or at least not so hot as it should be which is most proper, for the Stomach is never cold till a Man be dead; in such a Case, it is better to carry Troches of Wormwood, or Galangal, in a Paper in his Pocket, and more convenient by Half, than to lay a Galli pot along with him.
4. They are made thus: At Night, when you go to Bed, take two Drams of fine Gum Tragacanth; put it into a Galli- pot, and put Half a Quarter of a Pint of any distilled Water sitting for the Purpose you would make your Troches for, to it, to cover it, and, the next Morning you shall find it in such a Jelly as the Physicians call Mucilage: With this you may (with a little Pains taking) make a Powder into Paste, and that Paste into Cakes call'd Troches.
5. Having made them, dry them in the Shade, and keep them in a Pot for your Use.
Troches were first invented as a convenient way to carry Powders, being easier to carry, keeping better, and being made in a uniform dose to make dispensing easy.
Any Mucilage, or sometimes even Syrup or Wine is used to prepare a paste which is then rolled out thin and cut into squares or pressed into circles, then dried.
1. They are called Pilulae, because they resemble little Balls; the Greeks call them Catapotia.
2. It is the Opinion of Modern Physicians, that this Way of making Medicines, was invented only to deceive the Palate, that so, by swallowing them down whole, the Bitterness of the Medicine might not be perceived, or at least it might not be unsufferable; and indeed most of their Pills, tho' not all, are very bitter.
3. I am of a clean contrary Opinion to this; I rather think they were done up in this hard Form, that so they might be the longer in digesting; and my Opinion is grounded upon Reason too, not upon Fancy, or Hear-say. The first Invention of Pills was to purge the Head; now as I told you before, such Infirmities as lie near the Passages, were best removed by Decoctions, because they pass to the grieved Part soonest; so here, if the Infirmity lies in the Head, or any other remote Part, the best Way is to use Pills, because they are longer in Digestion, and therefore the better able to call the offending Humour to them.
4. If I should tell you here a long Tale of Medicines working by Sympathy and Antipathy, you would not understand a Word of it: they that are set to make Physicians, may find it in the Treatise: All Modern Physicians know not what belongs to a Sympathetical Cure, no more than a Cuckow what belongs to Flats and Sharps in Musick; but follow the vulgar Road, and call it a hidden Quality, because it is hidden from the Eyes of Dunces, and indeed none but Astrologers can give a Reason for it; and Physick without Reason, is like a Pudding without Fat.
5. The Way to make Pills is very easy, for with the Help of a Pestle and Mortar, and a little Diligence, you may make any Powder into Pills, either with Syrup, or the Jelly I told you before.
Pills are traditional formed into small balls from the size of a hemp seed, to a chickpea or larger.
Certainly one of the benefits of pills, as suggested here, it to mask bitter tasting medicines.
However, as stated here by Culpeper, Pills especially have added benefits when used in purging, and in the Western tradition, the commonly used pills were nearly all Purgative.
Pills have the advantage of staying longer in the Stomach and taking longer to dissolve, thus their effect is longer lasting, and therefore, more penetrating and capable of working deeper. So medicines to purge the Head and Joints, for example, were most commonly Pills.
To Make Pills, the powdered herbs are mixed with Mucilage, Syrup, Honey, a suitable concentrated Juice or such things as Sticky Rice rinse water, commonly used in China as an excipient to form pills. Once a pill mass is made, a hand rolling machine was used to prepare uniform shapes which which roll in cloth sacks to condense them, polish them and facilitate drying. Nowadays Pill making machines are used.
1. Oil Olive, which is commonly known by the Name of Sallad Oil, I suppose, because it is usually eaten with Sallads by them that love it, if it be pressed out of ripe Olives, according to Galen, is temperate, and exceeds in no one Quality.
2. Of Oils, some are Simple, and some are Compound.
3. Simple Oils, are such as are made of Fruits or Seeds By Expression, as Oil of sweet and bitter Almonds, Linseed and Rape-seed Oil, &c. of which see in my Dispensatory.
4. Compound Oils, are made of Oil of Olives, and other Simples, imagine Herbs, Flowers, Roots, &c.
5. The Way of making them is this: Having bruised the Herbs or Flowers you would make your Oil of, put them into an Earthen Pot, and to two or three Handfuls of them pour a Pint of Oil, cover the Pot with a Paper, set it in the Sun about a Fortnight or less, according as the sun is in Hotness; then having warmed it very well by the Fire, press out the Herb, &c. very hard in a Press, and add as many more Herbs to the same Oil; bruise the Herbs (I mean not the Oil) in like Manner, set them in the Sun as before, the oftener you repeat this, the stronger your Oil will be; at last, when you conceive it strong enough, boil both Herbs and Oil together till the Juice be consumed, which you may know by its leaving its Bubbling, and the Herbs will be crisp, then strain it while it is hot, and keep it in a Stone or Glass Vessel for your Use.
6. As for Chymical Oils, I have nothing to say in this Treatise.
7. The General Use of these Oils, is for Pain in the Limbs,
Roughness of the Skin, the Itch, &c. as also for Ointments and Plasters.
8. If you have Occasion to use it for Wounds or Ulcers, in two Ounces of Oil, dissolve Half an Ounce of Turpentine, the Heat of the Fire will quickly do it; for Oil itself is offensive to Wounds, and the Turpentine qualifies it.
Just as Olive Oil is used in the West, Sesame Oil was typically used in the East, and in the Tropics, often Coconut oil.
Simple Oils by expression are prepared from Seeds and Nuts.
As stated, the best way will be to sit the herbs in the oil in the Sun for 10–14 days; strain, repeat with fresh herbs, and perhaps a third time if desired. However, in practice, the Herbs can be gently Heated in the Oil, left for 24 hours, then heated again, and strained and pressed while warm. Repeating this with fresh herbs will give a decent oil within a couple of days.
Sometimes, a little Wine was added and boiled off to facilitate extraction from the herbs into the oil.
'Chymical oil' refers to Essential Oils.
Oils are used for a range of external uses, from moisturizing the skin, muscle pain, skin diseases etc.
1. Various are the Ways of making Ointments, which Authors have left to Posterity, which I shall omit, and quote one which is easiest to be made, and therefore most beneficial to People that are ignorant in Physick, for whose sake I write this. It is thus done: Bruise those Herbs, Flowers, or Roots, you will make an Ointment of, and to two Handfuls of your bruised Herbs add a Pound of Hogs Grease dried, or cleansed from the Skins, beat them very well together in a Stone Mortar with a Wooden Pestle, then put it into a Stone Pot, (the Herb and Grease I mean, not the Mortar) cover it with a Paper, and set it either in the Sun, or some other warm Place, three, four, or five Days, that it may melt; then take it out and boil it a little; then whilst it is hot, strain it out, pressing it out very hard in a Press; to this Grease add as many more Herbs bruised as before, let them stand in like manner as long, then boil them as you did the former; if you think your Ointment be not strong enough, you may do it the third and fourth Time; yet this I tell you, the fuller of Juice the Herbs are, the sooner will your Ointments be strong; the last Time you boil it, boil it so long till your Herbs be crisp, and the Juice consumed, then strain it, pressing it hard in a Press, and to every Pound of Ointment add too Ounces of Turpentine, and as much Wax, because Grease is offensive to Wounds, as well as Oil.
2. Ointments are vulgarly known to be kept in Pots, and will last above a Year, some above two Years.
Ointments can be made either with animal fat, or with a mix or Oil and Wax.
Another method is to prepare an oil of the herb(s), then with Wax or Fat, form an Ointment
1. The Greeks made their Plaisters of divers Simples, and put Metals into most of them, if not all; for having reduced their Metals into Powder, they mixed them with that fatty Substance whereof the rest of the Plaster consisted, whilst it was yet hot, continually stirring it up and down, lest it should sink to the Bottom; so they continually stirr'd it till it was stiff; then they made it up in Rolls, which when they needed for Use, they could melt by Fire again.
2, The Arabians made up theirs with Oil and Fat, which needeth not so long boiling.
3. The Greeks Emplaisters consisted of these Ingredients, Metals, Stones, divers Sorts of Earth, Feces, Juices, Liquors, Seeds, Roots, Herbs, Excrements of Creatures, Wax, Rosin, Gums.
It's true, the majority of the Plasters of the Greeks contained Metals to help heal Wounds, chronic Ulcers, and obstinate skin Diseases in particular.
The Arabs prepared Plasters with Oil and Fat, often with Wax or Resin added.
Nowadays, Plasters can be simply prepared with either petroleum jelly, or vegetable substitutes.