Rice, or Ryse, the grain of Oryza sativa, a native cereal of India,

is considered here scarcely as a Herbal Simple, but rather as a

common article of some medicinal resource in the store cupboard of

every English house-hold, and therefore always at band as a

vegetable remedy.

Among the Arabs Rice is considered a sacred food: [462] and their

tradition runs that it first sprang from a drop of Mahomet's

perspiration in Paradise.

Being composed almost exclusively of starch, and poorer in

nitrogen, as well as in phosphoric acid, than other cereals, it is less

laxative, and is of value as a demulcent to palliate irritative

diarrhoea, and to allay intestinal distress.

A mucilage of Rice made by boiling the well-washed grain for some

time in water, and straining, contains starch and phosphate of lime

in solution, and is therefore a serviceable emollient. But when

needed for food the grain should be steamed, because in boiling it

loses the little nitrogen, and the greater part of the lime phosphate

which it has scantily contained.

Rice bread and Rice cakes, simply made, are very light and easy of

digestion. The gluten confers the property of rising on dough or

paste made of Rice flour. But as an article of sustenance Rice is not

well suited for persons of fermentative tendencies during the

digestion of their food, because its starch is liable to undergo this

chemical change in the stomach.

Dr. Tytler reported in the Lancet (1833), cases resembling

malignant cholera from what he termed the morbus oryzoeus, as

provoked by the free and continued use of Rice as food. And

Boutins, in 1769, published an account of the diseases common to

the East Indies, in which he stated that when Rice is eaten more or

less exclusively, the vision becomes impaired. But neither of these

allegations seems to have been afterwards authoritatively confirmed.

Chemically, Rice consists of starch, fat, fibrin, mineral matter such

as phosphate of lime, cellulose, and water.

A spirituous liquor is made in China from the grain of Rice, and

bears the name arrack.

[463] Rice cannot be properly substituted in place of succulent

green vegetables dietetically for any length of time, or it would

induce scurvy. The Indians take stewed Rice to cure dysentery, and

a decoction of the grain for the purpose of subduing inflammatory


Paddy, or Paddee, is Rice from which the husk has not been

removed before crushing. It has been said by some that the

cultivation of Rice lowers vitality, and shortens life.

In Java a special Rice-pudding is made by first putting some raw

Rice in a conical earthen pot wide at the top, and perforated in its

body with holes. This is placed inside another earthen pot of a

similar shape but not perforated, and containing boiling water. The

swollen Rice soon stops up the holes of the inner pot, and the Rice

within becomes of a firm consistence, like pudding, and is eaten

with butter, sugar, and spices.

An ordinary Rice-pudding is much improved by adding some

rosewater to it before it is baked.

This grain has been long considered of a pectoral nature, and useful

for persons troubled with lung disease, and spitting of blood, as in

pulmonary consumption. The custom of throwing a shower of Rice

after and over a newly married couple is very old, though wheat was

at first the chosen grain as an augury of plenty. The bride wore a

garland of ears of corn in the time of Henry the Eighth.