Friday, July 10, 2009

Question from Winnie - Efficacy of Tudor medicine

Hi, I am currently doing a project on Tudor medicine.
I was just wondering.. how effective was the medicine used in that period?

1 comment:

PhD Historian said...

Wow! A very challenging question! The answer ranges from "very effective" to "it killed them rather than cured them." It just depends on what specific medical condition is considered and which treatment was being used.

For example: Tudor physicians were aware of the use of opiates to relieve pain and it was very effective.

They also knew how to remove stones from the bladder, a very effective treatment. But they knew nothing of the causes of infection, so the removal of the stone might as easily start a fatal infection.

Tudor-era surgeons knew to open and drain abscesses, but not how to treat the underlying infection.

Many of the herbs and plant extracts used as medicine did work, but amounts ("dose") was not standardized or carefully controlled. A little belladonna for a stomach ache could make someone feel much better. Too much could kill them.

I know this doesn't really answer your question, but again, "how effective" depends entirely on the specific condition and the specific treatment.