Medieval Medical Practices…definitely not like today, thankfully.
In time chivalrous times of long ago when kings and queens ruled the land and their court of lords and ladies where the epitome of elegance and class. They were times where knights would be the saviors and champions of the kingdoms as they led battle after battle and romantically swept the women away on their feet. An era when wizards, dragons and other monsters would attack or defend the castle as part of the struggles that were known as the dark ages. These romantic notions are conjured up based upon Hollywood and the legends and lore of so long ago. No matter the danger at hand or the battle to be fought one thing was clear; the medical practices at the time might have been their worst enemy.
We obviously know that out medical practices in this day an age of technology and scientific advances are much more reliable and successful than back then. The belief of how disease was spread and started could be considered laughable at best, because the last time I checked when I get a stomach pain it isn’t a small troll inside me trying to get out, I have been known to be wrong in the past however.
I, for some odd reason, started to thinking about these medical practices while I was at the hospital about to get surgery on my sinuses and figured what the heck; let’s see what I can find out. To my shock, horror and humor I have found the following.
Hemorrhoids: There was a 7th century monk who was actually the patron saint for hemorrhoid pain, that saint definitely got the wrong end of the deal on that one. Now get this one, he apparently developed hemorrhoids in his garden and sat on a stone which gave him the magical cure. The stone apparently exists to this day and can me visited by any sufferer looking to sit upon its magical surface for relief and cure. Of course if that did not work then you could always take the other approach which would be to use a red hot poker to burn them away.
Zodiac signs: Another practice was that depending on what astrological sign you were born under the doctor needed to be aware of certain things. If you were a Taurus the doctor should not make incisions in the neck and throat and avoid cutting any veins in this area. Now if you were a Virgo the doctor should avoid cutting open a wound in the belly and internal parts, looks like virgos didn’t last to long in life. Now being a Pisces I had to see what I was forbade from doing, and it looks like my doctor should not cut my feet, look like I make out in this deal of dos and don’ts of this surgical guideline.
Dwale: Dwale is a crude anesthetic used the same way that anesthetic is used today in the operating rooms by relaxing the individual to sleep and pain relief so as not to feel discomfort during surgery. Now that’s great if it weren’t for that fact that Dwale could kill you very easily. It was made up of a combination of lettuce juice, opium, vinegar and gall from a castrated boar, which doesn’t sound all that bad until you add the last ingredient which was hemlock juice. All you Wicca and Shakespeare followers will know hemlock juice from many plays and potions. Hemlock juice is some very serious stuff and attacks the nervous system and is a very affective poison, once symptoms start its usually over as it moves rather fast through the body.
Bloodletting: Bloodletting is the one cure that everyone has pretty much heard about so I won’t spend too much time on this one. It was the practice of cutting veins and letting the toxins within the body to flow out via the blood stream. This in practicality sounds like a viable solution if it were not for the fact that usually you bled to death. They would slice a vein open and let the blood flow, not everyone died, but it was a barbaric treatment to say the least. Now if they were trying to release the toxins after watching the movie Twilight I could completely understand that.
Trepanation: Now some people who know about or heard about this procedure sometimes confuse it with lobotomy. Keep in mind that this is not about removing sections of the front lobe of the brain, this is about drilling holes into your head/skull. This procedures of drilling or cutting a small square into your skull is believed to treat cranial disease or for mystical purposes, depending on what you want to believe. They felt that the evil spirits or demon trapped in the cranial area would be able to escape through the hole that was created, because demons and evil spirits are stupid and couldn’t possibly leave through the ear, nose or mouth…that would be just plain silly. Oh and if you thought this practice had long since gone the way of the Do-Do then you would be wrong, there are some people who still believe in this and some quack un-insured doctors willing to do it too.
Toothache: Some people have had toothaches and some have not, I have been fortunate enough to not have one, but I do know some people who have and they say it’s very painful. So here is a remedy I think should work for everyone that I found in my research plus it will save on dental bills. If you take a candle and burn it close to the tooth that is hurting then the worms, yes I said worms, that are gnawing at the tooth will fall out into a cup of water held close to the mouth and candle. See dentists are such con artists, they tell us we need to floss and brush everyday; how does that keep worms away? No wonder my dentists never told me about the candle trick, he would lose all his business, such a con.
Pimples: I’m not going to spend all that long on this one that I found, mainly because its so bizarre and inhumane, but I’ll touch base on it. A cure for pimples was to take two white puppies, had to be white, and before they could see, you would chop off their heads and then let it drain out by hanging them from their back paws. Once the blood was all out your would mix it with some white wine and then apply it to your face to reduce you pimples. Now 2 things come to my mind about this, first off I guess PETA didn’t exists back then and secondly I am beginning to wonder what Clearasil uses in their formula now.
Now there are a vast amount of other weird medical therapies used such as leeches & maggots, which by the way are actually used in modern hospitals today to help heal cuts and wounds, but for the majority the ancient practices are long gone away. One thing I found interesting was the fact that even though it was the dark ages, they did rely heavily on sterilization by washing wounds and washing and burning medical tools. The diagnosis’s might have been off and some of the remedies not so well planned out, but at least they knew that dirt was bad.
Be safe and remember that candles are better than brushing,