Medical snippets #16: The London snail water

The Description of Aqua Liamcum Magistralis, or the London Snail Water, against Consumptions.

This compound Water is so ridiculous, that I am ashamed to see it in any Dispensatory; for the chief thing aimed at is, through the cool clammy and glutinous substance of the Liquor of Snails, 1. To cool the heat of the Hectick Fever. 2. To repair the parts consumed. 3. To facilitate Expectoration, that is, to make the matter come up easie by cough, through its lenifying quality, whereby it sweeteneth the humors, by allaying those gnawing Salts, that prey on the Lungs. Now in distilling on the Snails, there is no part of their unctuous or glutinous Liquor passeth the Alembick, but a meer Elementary Water. The same may be said also of the Hogs Blood. For this and other reasons I do commend to you this following Liquor of Snails.

Take of Garden Snails, especially those off a Vine, with their shells, a pound; first wash them well with Water and a little Salt, then wash them once or twice more with fair Water, to wash off the Salt; bruise them with their shells in a stone Mortar to a mash; added to them ground Ivie, Speedwell, Lungwort, Scabious, Burnet, Coltsfoot, and Nettle-tops, of each a handful; English Liquoris, half an ounce, Dates stoned, twelve in number; of the four greater cold Seeds, and Marshmallow seeds, of each one dram and half; Saffron a scruple. Put them into a new glazed Pipkin, and pour on them a quart of Spring Water; fasten the cover close to the Pipkin, by pasting it round with Dow. Let it stand twelve hours upon hot Cinders, or rather in a Kettle of hot Water over the fire; then strain and press out the Liquor, dissolving into it, while it’s warm, a quarter of a pound of clarified Honey; put it into a glass, and keep it in the Cellar.

Gideon Harvey, The family physician, and the house apothecary; containing I. Medicines against all such diseases people usually advise with apothecaries to be cured of. II. Instructions, whereby to prepare at your own houses all kinds of necessary medicines that are prepared by apothecaries, or prescribed by physicians. III. The exact prices of all drugs, herbs, seeds, simple and compound medicines, as they are sold at the druggists, or may be sold by the apothecaries. IV. That it’s plainly made to appear, that in preparing medicines thus at your own houses, that it’s not only a far safer way, but you shall also save nineteen shillings in twenty, comparing it with the extravagant rates of many apothecaries (1676)

Balliol College Library shelfmark: 910 c 8 (3)