Medical snippets #31: New experiments upon vipers

‘Divers Authors assure, that the Head of a Viper, hung about the neck, hath a very particular quality to cure the Squinancy and all the distempers of the Throat; and that the Brain of a Viper, wrapt up in a little skin, and likewise hung about the neck, is very good to make the Teeth of children come forth; which effect others believe to be due to the great teeth of Vipers. If we had experimented it, we could then speak with more certainty. The remedies are easily practicable, and withal harmless; wherefore those who need them may make trial of them. […]

The Skin of a Viper is not altogether destitute of virtue; for besides than it is also, as they say, very good for the delivery of women, making a garter of it about the right leg, it hath a very singular virtue for all the distempers of humane skin: And although all the other parts, eaten, may work the same thing; yet, that we might have benefit from all, we have experimented, that the Viper-skin does perfectly heal the inveterate mangie of Dogs, making them eat it boyled or raw.’

Moyse Charas, New experiments upon vipers. Containing also an exact description of all the parts of a viper, the seat of its poyson, and the several effects thereof, together with the exquisite remedies, that by the skilful may be drawn from vipers, as well for the cure of their bitings, as for that of other maladies (1670)

Balliol College Library shelfmark: 915 f 11 (1)

Medical snippets #30: Sleeping at noones

‘Here some may desire to know whether it bee altogether vnwholesome to sleepe after dinner. Whereunto I answer, that sleeping at noones is condemned as most hurtfull to the body, because it overmoistneth the braine, and filleth the head full with vaporous superfluities. And the reason why it filleth the head with superfluous moisture, is, because the night hath sufficiently moistned it, as that it needeth not to be moistned againe by sleepe in the day, but ought rather to be dryed by watchings and motions of the body. And from hence it is that sleeping at noones causeth heavinesse of the head, dulnesse of wit, distillations, defluxions of humours, lethargies, and other cold diseases of the braine, and palsies, by relaxing the sinewes. Moreover it hurteth the eyes, spoileth the colour, puffeth up the Spleene with winde, maketh the body unlusty, and prepareth it for Fevers and Impostumes.

Yet notwithstanding all these hurts which are incident to them that wil needs sleepe in the day time, sleeping at noones is not alwayes, nor to all bodies to be prohibited, so as it be admitted with the cautions hereafter assigned. For if the night shall be unquiet, or without sleepe, or the body wearied with extraordinary labour, or the spirits exhausted, and the strengths dejected by immoderate and excessive heat, as it oftentimes chanceth in the hot seasons of the yeare, it is not amisse to sleepe at noones: for by it the spirits are collected into the inner parts, the mind freed of cogitation, and the whole body consequently very much refreshed.’

Tobias Venner, Viæ rectæ ad vitam longam, pars secunda. VVherein the true vse of sleepe, exercise, excretions, and perturbations is, with their effects, discussed and applied to euery age, constitution of body, and time of yeare (1623)

Balliol College Library shelfmark: 910 c 9 (6)

Medical snippets #29: Avoid long watchings

‘As for sleep he must moderately indulge it, especially in a hot Gout, he must, if possible, avoid long watchings, because they do attenuate the bloud, and consequently increase the disease by raising defluxions.

While the pains continue, let the part affected be kept quiet, free from all motion: if his body be not of it self open, let it by Art be made soluble: let him abstain from the act of Venery, and as much as he can, let him avoid sadness, melancholy, and other passions, and violent commotions of the Spirits.

But the Gout being a long or Chronical disease, which cannot be cured by only living regularly, we must proceed to remedies, which is the second aim of the Physitian, viz. Evacuation and diversion of the antecedent matter; to this end serve Vomits, sharp and pungent Clisters with Hiera Benedicta; also Phlegmagoge, and Cholagoge Purges, according to the nature of the Gout, whether it be hot or cold.’

Benjamin Welles, A treatise of the gout, or joint-evil (1669)

Balliol College Library shelfmark: 910 c 8 (6)

Medical snippets #28: The seed of cotton

‘The seed of Cotton is said to be good against a Cough, and for such as are short-winded: it stirreth up lust; and the Oyl pressed out, taketh away freckles, spots, and other blemishes of the skin: the ashes of the wood burned, stop the bleeding of wounds: the powder thereof is restringent, and may be used as Bole; as also the Cotton may be applied. Also of this Wooll is made most of the beds they lye in, called Hammacks, or Hammakers, which are tyed up at both ends athwart a room, so that ten men may very well lodge in one room, and presently in the morning lay by their Beds, and have the convenient use of the same until night again; in those parts there being rarely any other used: for such Beds as we lye in here, do too much heat the body, and weaken Nature thereby.’

William Hughes, The American physitian; or, A treatise of the roots, plants, trees, shrubs, fruit, herbs, &c. growing in the English plantations in America. Describing the place, time, names, kindes, temperature, vertues and uses of them, either for diet, physick, &c. Whereunto is added a discourse of the cacao-nut-tree, and the use of its fruit; with all the ways of making of chocolate. The like never extant before (1672)

Balliol College Library shelfmark: 910 c 8 (5)

Medical snippets #27: Sweetening scorbutick acids

‘This Water being gradually heated (as is said) becomes a Bath, whose Sulphur hereby first penetrates the better into our Fermental juices, exciting them, if languid through Hydropick Acids, or spurious, through Scorbutick Acids, in the one by helping (with other concurring Medicaments) to remove obstructions from coagulated Acids; in the other, by precipitating, altering and sweetening Scorbutick Acids, the cause of pains and particular tumours. […]

Hereby it the better reacheth to dint that Fermental Acor of the Gout, impress’d upon the Synovia of the Joints, so easily communicable to the adjacent Nerves; hence is the reason why its found so effectual for the Scurvey, Gout, &c. viz. because these forenamed Diseases are chiefly determined and specificated by Acids, coagulated upon different humours and parts: For its Essential efficacy (if I may so say) of a subtiliz’d Sulphur to dint Acids, and thereby to resolve such as are coagulated; so that to me the discussion of all tumours, whether Scorbutick or others, depend upon the resolving those coagulated Acids, the intimate and real efficients thereof.’

William Simpson, Zymologia physica, or A brief philosophical discourse of fermentation, from a new hypothesis of acidum and sulphur (1675)

Balliol College Library shelfmark: 300 i 13 (3)

Medical snippets #26: That violent conflagration of the blood

‘As Feavers of this kind are not only caused by a matter different from what causes Periodicals, but also have as great a disparity in the manner of admitting that Matter into the Blood; so we cannot expect, when we see that Matter discover it self in various Symptoms; but that the cure, both of them and the Feavers they depend on, ought also to be varied accordingly. Our chiefest aim being in these, to allay that violent Conflagration of the Blood, ere the over-boiled Serum inflames some noble Part; which is to be done, either by visible abating the quantity of the Turgent Liquor by Phlebotomie, or by giving libertie to its most Transpirable parts in plentiful Sweats; either of these Evacuations being more proper (especially in the beginning of the Disease) in these sorts of Feavers, then any Ejection of the grosser Excrements; the last rather freeing the Blood of these Fermentative Particles, that are the common causes of Periodicals, then of those Extraneous Bodies, that incite it to the irregular Motion it suffers in a Synochus.’

Pyretologia, or A history of feavers. Composed according to such use of the parts, circulation of the blood, and the various offices both of the lympid liquor, and nervous juice, as have been the happy discoveries of modern anatomie. Together, with a more particular description of the uses of the spleen and pancreas; as also of the manner of natures proceeding in the several motions of fermentation, and ebullition, then hath been formerly divulged (1674)

Balliol College Library shelfmark: 300 i 13 (4)

Medical snippets #25: Men also are liable

‘Though the Disease called Hysterica Passio, be by almost all Authors treated of as only peculiar to Women, and proceeding only from the distemperature of the Womb; yet (as I have before observed) it may, upon grounds drawn from Reason and Experience, be very truly affirmed, That Men also are liable to most of the Symptoms of it, and that even in Wmoen they are often caused when the Womb is not in the least concern’d in the guilt. And the reason, why this Sex is more frequently than that other, afflicted with this Malady, may very well be ascribed to their more delicate constitution, and soft texture of their nervous parts, whereby they become more liable to convulsive motions; and upon the vellicating and twitching of any one part endued with exquisite sense, to have Convulsions communicated to the whole nervous System from whence the whole frame of the Body is put into disorder; as we see Clocks and Watches, whose Springs and Wheels are contriv’d with too subtil and nice workmanship, are oftner in fault, than those of more plain work.’

George Castle, The chymical Galenist: a treatise, wherein the practise of the ancients is reconcil’d to the new discoveries in the theory of physick; shewing, that many of their rules, methods, and medicins, are useful for the curing of diseases in this age, and in the northern parts of the world. In which are some reflections upon a book, intituled, Medela medicinæ (1667)

Balliol College Library shelfmark: 300 i 14 (1)