Saturday, November 11, 2006

Question from Kiran - Cures and remedies

I am doing a project about Tudor 'cures'and remedies... It doesnt have to work, actually, the weirder the better!!! I am thirteen, still at high school, so nothing too complex please!!!

[ed note: yet more Tudor medicine - I'd love to see some examples that people can find for this one though, so that's why I'm posting it even though it sort of repeats previous questions... I'll try to look through some of my books tomorrow too, head cold permitting]

1 comment:

  1. [I'm posting this for Marylin... Good stuff in there, even if it is a bit icky! -- Lara]

    Hi Kiran

    One of the best, and most entertaining sources of information on Tudor/Jacobean medicine is Dr. John Hall’s Select Observations on English Bodies. Dr. Hall was married to Shakespeare’s daughter Susanna and was the local doctor for the Stratford-upon-Avon area, although he had such a good reputation that he travelled far and wide to the homes of the gentry and aristocracy. His beautiful house, Hall’s Croft, with its surgery can still be visited.

    Travelling on horseback aggravated the condition called haemorrhoids, now commonly known as piles, and Hall tells us that he himself was suffering from this condition. As you probably know, the doctors believed that the body of a poorly person had to have its balance restored, so we get the odd idea of people with tooth ache being (apparently) cured by the use of strong purges (laxatives), and often the cures involved making the patient vomit as well; there was also the opening of a vein to bleed the patient, which in a poorly person must have often done more harm than good. Part of Hall’s cure for his own piles was to have a live pigeon cut open and applied to the soles of his feet to draw down the humours. Leeches were also applied to the haemorrhoids, and it is interesting that today the use of leeches is making a comeback in modern medicine.

    Most of Hall’s cures are complicated and last for a number of days, so here are a few extracts from some of them.

    The cure for “Mr Winter, aged 44, who was cruelly tormented with the Worms and Feaver” included a powder added to his food containing coral, pearl, harts-horn, fragments of rubies and one leaf of gold. His bad cough was cured with syrup of poppies and maidenhair. He had also been purged with a laxative, “with which there came forth many dead Worms, with stinking Excrements”. He was cured in three days.

    Robert Sartor, aged 34, of Stratford-upon-Avon, had a very bad nosebleed, which wouldn’t stop. “It was stopt as followeth: I caused tents to be made often dipped in frogspawn in March to be put up his nostrils.” The bleeding stopped within half an hour.

    For jaundice he used ten worms washed in white wine and then boiled in water until thick, some of this was administered in soup. The same patient was given also the juice of goose dung.

    A nobleman with a very bad throat was given a concoction made from a bird’s nest – straw, dung, insects, etc, - which had been boiled down into a paste and which he had to keep in his mouth.

    Need I go on!

    It has taken me quite a while to do this, so I would appreciate a reply to let me know if it has been helpful.

    Good luck with your schoolwork.



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