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[p. 253]occurs in the mouth, but less than that in the liver and veins. For the latter alteration changes the nutriment into the substance of blood, whereas that in the mouth obviously changes it into a new form, but certainly does not completely transmute it. This you may discover in the food which is left in the intervals between the teeth, and which remains there
all night; the bread is not exactly bread, nor the meat meat, for they have a smell similar to that of the animal's mouth, and have been disintegrated and dissolved, and have had the qualities of the animal's flesh impressed upon them. And you may observe the extent of the alteration which occurs to food in the mouth if you will chew some corn and then apply it to an unripe [undigested] boil: you will see it rapidly transmuting- in fact entirely digesting- the boil, though it cannot do anything of the kind if you mix it with water. And do not let this surprise you; this phlegm [saliva] in the mouth is also a cure for lichens
Apparently skin-diseases in which a superficial crust (resembling the lichen on a tree-trunk) forms - e.g. psoriasis.
; it even rapidly destroys scorpions; while, as regards the animals which emit venom, some it kills at once, and others after an interval; to all of them in any case it does great damage. Now, the masticated food is all, firstly, soaked in and mixed up with this phlegm; and secondly, it
is brought into contact with the actual skin of the mouth; thus it undergoes more change than the food which is wedged into the vacant spaces between the teeth.
But just as masticated food is more altered than the latter kind, so is food which has been swallowed more altered than that which has been merely