Friday, October 29, 2010

How to Die Young in the Middle Ages

If food in the Middle Ages was deadly, I shudder to think of what the medicine was. The Arab doctors were all right. They were having their golden ages when the Europeans were having their dark ages. Arab doctors treated things with similar treatments to what we use today. One particularly terrible doctor from Europe used to treat lung infections by taking the brain out of the skull and rubbing it with salt. That didn't cure the patient. In fact, it probably gave them more sodium than they needed per day. (:

The medicines were fairly unpleasant. The cure for a stuffed up nose was to stuff mustard and onions up the nose. For bruises, they would apply a bandage of bacon fat and flour. That couldn't have been too bad, but then again, I've never tried it. Fainting was treated by having the sufferer inhale the smoke of burning feathers. Nowadays we don't recommend this. Ginger was used to treat loss of memory. I don't suggest you try this. Some spices, like nutmeg, are poisonous in large doses.

These cures were for simple things, at a time when the black plague was going around. The doctors weren't even close when it came to treating that! Some remedies included sitting in a sewer, drinking ten-year-old treacle, and eating arsenic powder. The powder would have killed you anyway. It's highly poisonous. One particualrly dumb cure was to walk from town to town beating yourself. I don't think that was such a great idea. It's very painful.

Be glad you don't live in the Middle Ages. You would probably have died from plague or cures for your sore throat long ago.

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