Rheumatism and the joint pains were treated both by charms and by concoctions. To carry the forefoot of a hare, or a raw potato, or a horse chestnut in one's pocket ameliorated an attack of the severe pain that accompanies all Joint affections. Sailors when attacked by rheumatism wear a flannel shirt nine times dyed. The landlubber has to be satisfied with sleeping on a hop pillow, or leaning for one night against the bellows.
Walking in fields on Friday before sunrise was advised to patients suffering with gout. Pliny says:
Dropping of excreted water upon the feet, or applying the lodestone were thought of benefit in this disease.
For billiousness and jaundice, quite a number of the most disgusting mixtures were used. Lice seem to have been quite a current specific for this affection; lice served in all manners and form, and in all ways of preparation. Nine lice to be eaten on a slice of bread and butter; or else nine lice swallowed alive, were two of the most conventional ways of taking this medicine. Poor, dirty communities need never complain of jaundice, for they always have the wherewithal to cure it.
Goose dung made into pills and eaten several times a day was another very tasteful medicament, which was especially in style in Staffordshire. In Franche Comte, hawkweed and carrots are still considered specifics for jaundice. A more convincing recipe is the one recommended by Graham:
Fall to your cheese-cakes, curds, and clouted cream,
Your fool, your flaunes, and swill of ale a stream
To wash it from your livers.
Cancer, it was vaguely believed in certain portions of the world, was due to the growth of a toad-like body in the human organism. The first thing that was, therefore, applied to a cancerous surface was a dried toad. The doctors recommended the following composition: To a yolk
- Lindley, "Vegetable Kingdom," 1846.
- Narsnet, "A Declaration of Popish Impostures," 1603.
- Isaac Walton, "Complete Angler."
- Beaumont and Fletcher, "Thierry and Theodoret," V., 1,
- Graham, "Domestic Medicine."
- Ben Jonson, "Sad Shepherd," I., 7.