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Crazy Things Used To Cure Illness In The Middle Ages

Updated on April 1, 2013

A typical Plague doctor

In 1347 death reigned in Europe. A new disease appeared, and there was no telling who would catch it next. It was the Bubonic Plague and it created piles of bodies reaching the roof. The problem was that doctors knew nothing about the cause of the plague, or how to cure it. People believed that you could be infected by looking at a victim, breathing bad air or drinking water from a bad source.

For the plague, doctors recommended cures such as:

  • sitting in the sewers so that the stench of the plague is driven away by a more powerful stench
  • throwing herbs into the fire to increase the air quality
  • eating ten year old syrup
  • swallowing powder made out of emeralds (only for the rich)
  • killing all the cats and dogs in town
  • eating rat poison

Of course, the Black Plague is not the only disease doctors faced in those days.

From ancient times it was believed that the best thing to do in case of illness was to let the bad blood out of the body. Bloodletting was the most common medical practice performed by physicians from antiquity until the late 19th century, a span of almost 2,000 years! It was customary in the Middle Ages for someone to go to a barber and let him draw some blood. There was usually a big bowl of blood in the windows of barbershops.

Apart from blood-letting, there were also some interesting therapies:

  • If you have a toothache, you should wear the beak of a magpie around your neck.
  • If someone is considered crazy, the right thing to do is to drill a hole in their head so that the evil can go out.
  • If you have fungus, you should bathe in the urine of young boys
  • Joint pain was treated with a compress made from goat droppings, honey and rosemary
  • Memory loss was treated with ginger
  • Insomnia was treated with sugar syrup (which was also used for the dumb, people with freckles and snakebite victims )
  • Bruises were covered in a crème made from bacon and flour
  • When someone was unconscious they were awaken by breathing in the fumes from burnt feathers
  • If you have clogged nostrils, you should stuff them full of mustard and onions
  • Internal bleeding was treated by making the patient wear a dead toad around their neck

Surgical instrument case and instruments
Surgical instrument case and instruments


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      copied from horrible histories by terry deary


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