The Sense of Smelling

Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi(Advice to a specific patient with sensitivities)
Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Zakariya al-Razi
900AD

The patient ought to take note of the following points:

He should avoid the surfeit of everything. He should also avoid sleeping on a full stomach, especially after drinking cold water. He should avoid soporific medicines in the form of liquid. He should stay away from closed places, basements, and damp houses where the air is stuffy and dank. He should cover his head, especially when he has washed his body, eaten, and drunk water.

He should avoid talking too much, yelling, fastening his neck button tightly, putting big pillows under his head, and pouring too much cold water on his head. He should avoid growing his hair long, oiling his hair with contractive oils, and dying his hair with henna, or other contractive dyes; also, he had better avoid combing his hair too often.

Abu Bakr Mohammad Ibn Zakariya al-RaziHe should avoid smelling things that give off a great deal of vapors, like red rose and sweet basil (shahsparm) as these two are so beautiful and tempting ; moreover, on a full stomach, he should avoid smelling soporific substances that make the head heavy, like mandrake (loffah), storax (al niaih), and saffron, and flatulent substances like broad beans, fish, chicken, onions, porreau (korath), garlic, ginger (jergir), and wine.

He should try to make his head light by observing the following things: he ought to lose weight early in spring. In this way, he will sweat and get rid of the moisture that was developed in winter because of overeating, overdrinking, and sleeping for long hours in houses that have stuffy air. These vapors go toward the head and make it heavy ; thus, it is also harmful for the patient to sleep on the back.

The patient should inhale substances that make one sneeze in order to get the mucus gathered in the head to go the nose ,and this ought to be repeated several times. It also good to breathe the vapors of hot water containing matricaria, menta sativa, pennyroyal, and worm seed. Also, before sleeping, the patient had better take substances that prevent secretion from pouring down into the chest since secretion pours into the chest when one is asleep, especially when one sleeps on the back for a long time. If such substances pour into the chest, the patient's voice will get hoarse; he will start coughing, become short of breath, and get a fever. And if the secretion is too much, it should be dissolved and brought out by dissolving medicine like hyssop. Hyssopus officinal is (zufa) so that the chest would become soft and clear, and the severity of coughing would not disturb the lungs. It must also stop new secretion from pouring down, help to get ride of substances that go up, and dissolve what had poured down into the nasal cavity. This should be done by massaging the head and keeping it warm when the stomach is empty. And if it is feared that the excess of the substances might hurt the throat muscles, the patient's head ought to be shaved and anointed with mustard. Warm substances like nigella seed (shoniz), onions, and mustard must be inhaled to cause sneezing and force out the nasal secretion.

Substances that strengthen the throat should be gargled with rosewater. The mouth and throat ought to be washed with cold water, and water should be drunk frequently in order to prevent mucus from getting in the lungs.

The patient should avoid drugs like liquid opium (sharab al khashkhash) or any other medicine obtained from opium, and frankincense (kondor), tragacanth (kethira), gum (samgh), mucilage of pear seed, saliva of quince seeds (loab safarjal), cotton seeds (bazraghotoon), purslane juice (baghlato al hamagha), and black nightshade (enabo al thalab). Of course, if the coughing is very severe, medicines like morphine, henbane, frankincense, and Armenian slime must be used.

And for moistening substances poured into the chest, Ghyrouti medicine taken from wallflower oil (khiry oil) and matricaria oil must be used. Then a warm cloth mus be put on head and chest, and the patient should stay in a house where cold air cannot get in, and be kept warm with hot water or hot bath. To dissolve mucus, one must increase physical activities and at the same time take dissolvent medicines such as barley-water (mao al shayir), sugared water, honey, extract of boiled figs and raisins (asl as sous), maidenhair (pare-siawashan), and the lily of the valley root. Moreover, the patient should continually gargle with hot water.

If the illness gets worse, medicines must be taken that are extracted from fenugreek (faenugraecum: hollbah), True horehound or bugle weed (farasion), urtica, termite (arasa), pepper, mustard, etc. Patients who suffer severely from this disease- that is, whose nasal cavities are blocked and feel itchy, sneeze a lot and have running noses- must walk in a hot bath, perspire, and try venesection in addition to taking the afore-mentioned medicine.

Some have been treated by a cut in the vessel between their eye and ear and vessels in their forehead. Since these vessels are in contact with the bones, they do not overflow with blood, and the face gets warm and red because of blood circulation. For those people whose faces are red and warm and their vessels get a little filled with blood, cutting the ear and bleeding is more useful.

They can also eat food, which make the blood thick and cold, such as vinegar, lentil, sour grapes, and rhubarb (rybas). Sometimes the patient's forehead should be massaged continually with vinegar and rose extract. I rubbed ice on the head of a man who had taken wine and was drunk; at first, he screamed, but then he totally calmed down. He felt terribly cold, and this cold feeling penetrated the depth of his head. At night, he felt a little cold and then got well. I followed the same procedure for similar patients, but it did not work.

Of course, severe diarrhea, walking, and fasting turned out effective in the case of these patients. The illness in worse in people whose neck vessels are big and suffer when they smell flowers. For these people, smelling musk, Costus albus (ghost), myrrh (mor) is useful, and they should massage the inside of their noses with lily of the valley (soussan) and bon-oil tree: Moringa pterigosperma (al ban).

This is the end of the article. May God send greeting to him and to his family and companions.

Baghdad