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Author Topic:   Medieval Medicine
posted 01-30-2001 11:02 AM           Edit/Delete Message
I've just been reading a little about excavations carried out at Soutra Hospice south of Edinburgh. Some of the remains are revealing regarding both medieval medicine, and trade. Many traces of exotic spices and other substances were found, including cloves (used as a restorative after blood letting), liquorice, opium poppy pepper, ginger and nutmeg, which must have been transported half way around the world at a high cost.
Evidence of a general anaestetic formed from seeds of black henbane, opium poppy, and hemlock was also uncovered.
A good example I was already aware of was the chewing of willow bark as analgesia and cure all due to the prescence of salicyilic acid (asprin).
Obviously some of these substances are highly dangerous, and so the monks who administered them must have had high skill levels or a very high death rate!
Does anyone have further examples of the roles of such substances in early days.

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[This message has been edited by wurdsmiff (edited 01-30-2001).]

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posted 01-30-2001 11:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for duncan   Click Here to Email duncan     Edit/Delete Message
CINNAMON has been used to prepare incense and holy oils, medicines, and perfumes since before Biblical times. It prevents infection and indigestion as well as a host of other bodily ailments including fever,diarrhea,and tumors.
FLAX was used not only for the fibers but also for the oil which is edible when cold pressed. Medicinally the seeds were prescribed as a demulcent, emollient, and as a laxative. The flaxseed was also used through out history as a remedy for burns.
OLIVE oils was the base of perfumed ointments that was sold all over the Roman impire. Its leaves when pounded in wine was used to cure tumors.
My text makes no reference to white or red. The oil was said to be a medicinal treasure trove and was used for burns,colds, constipation, lesions, stomachaches, sore throats, and even sunburn for when you fell asleep after pounding all the leaves in wine i supose.
Peter your not alone when it comes to useing herbs.

Heres a short list of a few more that were used in acient times and still are with good results.
Migraines and headaches;
Feverfew, Valerian Root, Lavender
Sleep aid;
Valerian, Passionflower, Saint Johns Wort, Hops, Chamomile

[This message has been edited by duncan (edited 02-01-2001).]

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posted 01-31-2001 08:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
Sounds interesting and reminds me of "The name of the Rose" by Umberto Ecco (where the monks indeed have a very high death rate!). Gordon: From which century are those remains from Soutra Hospice (estimately)?

posted 01-31-2001 08:44 AM           Edit/Delete Message
The hospice was founded in the mid twelth century, the deposits are estimated as of early 14thc origin.
Traces of quicklime were also found with surgical implements, the interpretation being that solutions were used for the cleansing of infected wounds or the tools themselves.

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posted 01-31-2001 12:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter   Click Here to Email Peter     Edit/Delete Message
Having grown and used herbs for many years, I can vouch for many of their practical applications. Rosemary was brought over by the Romans for many purposes. One of them was for the ladies, to shine & lighten their hair when washing. I used to make bage up for my own daughter, and she would run the shower head water through the bag and rinse her with it.
Comfrey is another (known as 'bone setter'). Excellent for badly bruised arms\legs etc. Simply soak the leaves it hot water, and use as a poultice under light bandages.
House leek, this will help to soothe stings from insects or nettles. Nettle beer is a blood cleanser, and doesn't taste too bad if drank fresh.
At present I restrict myself to several dozen main herbs, mainly for cooking. But we do use them for other things.
I might add that have also made my own wine for 30+ years, including Mead. Just have have a nice elderberry coming up for drinking after 5 years !!!

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posted 02-01-2001 01:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
Good to have an expert on this here in the forum. I'd like to taste your products, Peter - must be great to have your own wine. Do you drink it the medieval way (with spices added)?

posted 02-03-2001 04:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Levan   Click Here to Email Levan     Edit/Delete Message
Merlin - surely with your UserName we should expect you to be the expert on herbal potions and remedies!


posted 02-04-2001 05:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter   Click Here to Email Peter     Edit/Delete Message
Never been a lover of mulled wine. Although my wife likes it.
the big problem with 'nature' wines, is, that they can take some time before they are drinkable. So I cheat,by buying commercial kits, which are excellent for everyday drinking.
Waiting for a rhubard & dandylion to come on at the moment. Both are very good, the latter being an acquired taste. Vegetable wines are not my forte, I can always taste what they are made from. Which some people don't mind.
Even an ordinary med. white wine kit can be enhanced by dipping an oz. of dried elder flowers in the brew for a few minutes. Gives a somewhat German wine flavour.
One of my wifes favourites is Sloe Gin. Okay, not a wine, but if you want a real winter warmer, this is it.
Now 1.30pm in a very chilly damp North Wales, might be time for a warmer !

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posted 02-06-2001 11:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
Levan: I'd wish I'd know something more about this. But at least, I'm a great wine-lover. Although I vote for the more modern products of italian, french and swiss vineyards for a real warmer (at least a warmer for the soul - we don't need other warmers these days, it seems to be spring in Zurich!).

posted 02-07-2001 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter   Click Here to Email Peter     Edit/Delete Message
Well, I should be justover the top from you later this year. Trying Orta San Giulio at Lago d'Orta, Piemonte. I'll let you how the wine is.

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posted 02-10-2001 07:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glaive203     Edit/Delete Message
opium was used as a knockout drug by english robbers as early as the 14th cen.

posted 02-22-2001 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter   Click Here to Email Peter     Edit/Delete Message
I think I am rightly concerned Sirs, that the health of some of you may not be what it should. In fact, those of you that are healthy may be in need of a good remedy in the not too far distance future.
Having had words with my good friend, Sir John Wynn of Gwidir Castle; he passes to you post haste an advice against the stones:

" Take half a sheepes head with the woole, boyle it in 3 quartes of springe water, untill half be spent, with addicion of mallowes and violet haws each one handfull, parsley & fennill rootes, and english liquerish scarped and sliced, each once & half, Comim seedes, Annist seedes each two onces, when the decoction is cold and settled, add to the pinte of it one once of the electuary called diacatholicon disolved, two onces of syruppe of roses, two onces of oyle of violets, & make a Clyster to be ministered bloode warm as occasionshall serve"

He assures me that in taking this, your quest for rich foods will be dulled for some time.

All times are PT (US)

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