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Medicine in England.
In the period before
Invasion of 1066, medicine was provided in the home by members
of the family who had handed knowledge down from the previous generation and by
more experienced people in the village or town. Much of this was herbal
knowledge and this seems to have been handed on but discreetly till the present
day. The list of the plants in a garden in the 1330’s would agree with the
list of those in my garden of the 1990’s except they did not grow potatoes
(See End Note). In any case they could not afford a Doctor’s fee and the
Monasteries were not very charitable unless you had funds.
Via French < Latin, "teacher" <doct-, past participle of
In Early medieval Europe,
religious groups established hospitals and infirmaries in monasteries
and later developed charitable institutions designed to care for the victims of
vast epidemics of bubonic plague, leprosy, smallpox, and other diseases that
swept Europe during the Middle Ages. The church taught that God sent illness, and that repenting would cure all
at the time believed that pilgrimage would cure them. In the Old and New Testaments, disease is often a
punishment for individuals who transgress God's law; consequently, Christ
becomes the physician who can cure both spiritual and physical diseases. While
Christ was thought to be the perfect physician, his followers also gain acclaim
as healers and curers. "The apostle Luke, one of the four evangelists and
author also of the Acts of the Apostles, is referred to by Paul as 'the beloved
physician' (Colossians. 4:14)". The image of Christ as the perfect doctor
finds a permanent place in Christian thought with the writings of Saint Ambrose
(339-97 A.D.), Saint Augustine (354-430 A.D.), and Boethuis (480-524 A.D.). The
Benedictines were especially active in this work, collecting and studying
ancient medical texts in their library at Monte Cassino near Salerno, Italy. St. Benedict
of Nursia, the founder of the order, obligated its members to study the
sciences, especially medicine. The abbot of Monte Cassino, Bertharius, was
himself a famous physician. During the 9th and 10th
centuries Salerno became Europe’s centre for medical care and education and
was the site of the first Western school of medicine.
1087-1100 William II
son of William I
the 12th century other medical schools were established at the universities of
Bologna and Padua in Italy, the University of Paris in France, and Oxford
University in England.
1100-35 Henry I
son of William I
Lectures held at Oxford.
grandson of William II
1153-89 Henry II
son of Matilda (daughter of Henry I)
12th century the expulsion of foreigners from the University of Paris caused
many English scholars to return from France and settle in Oxford.
University of Paris had four faculties: theology, medicine, canon law, and arts.
Hospital site, in Scotland granted a charter by
King Malcolm IV in 1164. Augustine
monks evidence of amputation of limbs, induced
birth using ergot fungus and juniper berry seeds, stop scurvy, medieval texts
said loose teeth can be 'fastened or secured' by eating watercress. An analgesic
salve made from opium and grease. Used Quicklime (calcium oxide) as a
disinfectant and a deodorant. Hemlock used as painkiller before amputation, also black henbane, and opium
1189-99 Richard I
son of Henry II
son of Henry II
Although most Hospitals and
training centre’s for the study of medicine (like that of Oxford and Salerno)
came under the control of the Church and were attached
to religious institutions; the practice of medicine and surgery on the
part of ecclesiastics was discouraged by the popes and church councils of the
twelfth century. It culminated in the decree
of Pope Innocent III in 1215, which forbade the participation of the
higher clergy in any operation involving the shedding of blood (Ecclesia
abhorret a sanguine). Because of the
length training necessary there was a relatively scanty supply of educated lay
physicians and surgeons, and finally the pride and inertia of the lay physicians
themselves; all these combined to relegate surgery in the thirteenth century to
the hands of a class of ignorant and unconscionable empirics, whose rash
activity shed a baleful light upon the art of surgery itself. As a natural
result the practice of this art drifted into an impasse, from which the
organisation of the barber-surgeons seemed the only logical means of escape.
(Training to be a
University Qualified physician the student had to spend three or four years studying grammar, logic,
argument and public speaking. Then another three years would be spent on
arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. This gave the student his Master's
degree at the end of seven years. Then, and only then, could he go on to study
medicine. This course could take another seven to ten years, so the fully
university-trained doctor would be at least thirty before he finished his
studies and was let loose on the public).
1216-72 Henry III
son of John
the friars, Franciscans and Dominicans, arrived in England, improving the
quality of preaching and becoming the leading scholars in the universities.
Gilbertus Anglicus wrote a
medical thesis around 1230. Although English he lived and worked most of his
life abroad studied at the School of Salernum. The charms and popular specifics
of Gilbert are often introduced with a sort of apology, implying his slight
belief in their efficacy. The condition of the urine is studied with great
diligence; gives two recipes for mediaeval
anaesthesia; mallow, crowsfoot and nasturtium
seeds used in treatment of fractures; small-pox is said by him to
have made its first appearance in England in 1241; egg-albumen
used as a wound dressing on clean linen cloth. Wounds
of the penis are curable, and if the wound is transverse and divides the nerve,
they are likewise painless. Sprains of the ankle are to be treated by
placing the joint immediately in very cold water, and the joint is to be kept
thus refrigerated until it even becomes numb (stupefactionem); after which
stupes of salt water and urine are to be applied, followed by a plaster of
galbanum, opoponax, the apostolicon. Dislocations of the ankle, after reduction
of proper manipulation, should be bound with suitable splints. If of a less
severe character, the dislocation may be dressed with stupes of canabina (Indian
hemp), urine and salt water, which greatly mitigate the pain and swelling -
fistula lachrymalis and fistulae of the jaw receive special attention, the
fistula is dilated by a tent of alder-pith, mandragora, briony or gentian, the
lining membrane destroyed by an ointment of quick-lime or even the actual
cautery, and the wound then dressed with egg-albumen followed by the unguentum
viride. Necrosed bone is to be removed, if necessary, by deep incisions, and
decayed teeth are to be extracted - one ointment mentioned is Dyaceraseos (a
mixture of cherry juice, honey, cinnamon, mastic and scammony) the
active ingredient of very many of the formulae used is the root called
hermodactyl, believed by botanists to be the
"When we see a man
with large eyes, we argue that he is indolent."
"If his eyes are
deeply situated in his head, we say that he is crafty and a deceiver."
"If his eyes are
prominent, we say that he is immodest, loquacious and stupid."
"He whose eyes are
mobile and sharp is a deceiver, crafty and a thief."
"He whose eyes are
large and tremulous is lazy and a braggart (spaciosus?), and fond of
Actual diseases of the eye
ophthalmia, pannus (including ungula, egilops and cataract), tumors of the
conjunctiva, itching of the eyes, lachrymation, cancer, diseases of the cornea
and uvea, diseases of the eyelids, lachrymal fistula and entropion. The
treatment consists generally in ointments and collyria, but in fistula
lachrymalis incision and tents of alder-pith, mandragora (malum terrae), briony,
gentian, etc., are recommended, and entropion is referred directly to the
elaborate discussion of the physiology of generation and the phenomena of
impotence is followed by a collection of remedies for the condition, of which
the best that can be said is that they are probably no less effective than most
of the modern drugs recommended for the same purpose. Concerning a function over
which so many fond superstitions still linger in the public mind, we may,
perhaps, charitably forgive Gilbert for the introduction of an empirical remedy
for sterility, which, he assures us, he has often tried and with invariable
success, and which enjoys the double advantage of applicability to either sex.
a man, twenty years of age or more, before the third hour of the vigil of St.
John the Baptist, pull up by the roots a specimen of consolida major (comfrey)
and another of consolida minor (healall), repeating thrice the Lord's prayer (oratio
dominica ). Let him speak to no one while either going or returning, say nothing
whatever, but in deep silence let him extract the juice from the herbs and with
this juice write on as many cards as may be required the following charm:
dominus crescite. [symbol: dagger].
[symbol:dagger]. et replete
terram. [symbol: dagger].
a man wears about his neck a card inscribed with these identical words written
in this juice, he will beget a male. Conversely, if a woman, she will conceive a
however, cautions the bearer of this potent charm of the possible dangers of
satyriasis incurred thereby, and offers suitable remedies for so alarming a
Diabetes is defined as
"An immoderate passage or attraction of urine from the liver to the kidneys
and its passage through the kidneys, as the result of a warm or dry
distemperature of these organs." The idea of some association of the liver
and kidneys in the production of diabetes is at least as old as the eleventh
century, and Gilbert's definition of the disease is undoubtedly borrowed from
the "Practica" of John Platearius (A.D. 1075), of the school of
Salernum. The symptoms, continual thirst, dryness of the mouth, emaciation, in
spite of an inordinate appetite, frequent and profuse urination, are correctly
given, but no knowledge of the presence of sugar in the urine is indicated.
tells us that some old women know how to produce and remove goitrous swellings
by means of certain suitable herbs known to them.
gives a prescription consisting of a long list of ingredients, including burnt
sponge, saponaria, the milk of a sow raising her first litter, with numerous
The introduction of iodine, in the form of burnt sponge, into the treatment of
tells us that pouring metallic mercury into the ear produces the most
distressing symptoms, severe pain, delirium, convulsions, epilepsy, apoplexy
and, if the metal penetrates to the brain, ultimate death.
Rubbed briskly with salt
and vinegar and then anointed with an ointment of nettle-juice (urtica) and
mutton-fat, or with a mixture of garlic, soap and oil. If badly swollen, they
should be bathed, before inunction, with a decoction of elder-bark and other
For nausea he recommends
the juice of acid pomegranates, lemons, etc., or a decoction of parsley or sweet
(1214?-1294). English Scholastic philosopher and scientist, one of the most
influential teachers of the 13th century. Born in Ilchester, Somersetshire,
Bacon was educated at the universities of Oxford and Paris. He remained in Paris
after completing his studies and taught for a time at the University of Paris.
Soon after his return to England in about 1251, he entered the religious order
of the Franciscans and settled at Oxford. He carried on active studies and did
experimental research, mainly in alchemy, optics, and astronomy.
Bacon undertook research in optics and refraction and was the first scholar to
suggest that medicine should rely on remedies provided by chemistry. Bacon,
often regarded as an original thinker and pioneer in experimental science, was
strongly influenced by the authority of Greek and Arabic medicine. Bacon's
revolutionary ideas about the study of science caused his condemnation by the
Franciscans for his heretical views. In 1278 the general of the Franciscan
order, Girolamo Masci, later Pope Nicholas IV, forbade the reading of Bacon's
books and had Bacon arrested. After ten
years in prison, he was released and allowed to return to Oxford. (Bacon
is quoted as writing about his time in a small cell in Paris, "...for my
superiors and brothers, disciplining me with hunger, kept me under close guard
and would not permit anyone to come to me, fearing that my writings would be
divulged to others [rather] than to the chief pontiff and themselves," and
that they treated him with "unspeakable violence" and "for ten
years had been exiled from former University fame.")
1272-1307 Edward I
son of Henry III
In the 13th century, medical
licensure by examination was endorsed. Only those who were licensed could
1307-27 Edward II
son of Edward I
The move of the popes
from Rome to Avignon in France (1309-1376) and the Great Schism (1378-1417), in
which rival popes opposed one another, caused a loss of English respect for the
papacy. Statutes of Provisors (1351, 1390) limited the pope's ability to appoint
to church offices in England, and the Statutes of Praemunire (1353, 1393)
prevented church courts from enforcing such appointments.
son of the Black Prince
- 1400) Canterbury Tales.
"There was a Medical Practitioner:
Nowhere a better expositioner
On points of medicine and pathology.
For he was grounded in astrology;
Treating his patients with most modern physic
Dependent on his skill in natural magic;
He knew which times would be the most propitious
For all his cures to be most expeditious.
He knew the cause of every malady,
If it was hot or cold or moist or dry
And where its seat and what its composition:
You'd nowhere find a more adept physician.
And when he knew the cause of the disease
He'd give the patient fitting remedies.
He'd several chemists under his command
Who made sure all his treatments were to hand.
Reciprocally, both parties made their pile
And had done so for quite a longish while.
Old eminent authorities he knew,
Some Greek, some Roman, some Arabian too.
He'd read both Aesculapius the Greek
And Dioscorides, whose drug critique
Was current still. Ephesian Rufus, too,
Hippocrates and Haly, all he knew.
Galen, Serapion and Rhazes, all
Their textbooks he could instantly recall.
Likewise with Avicenna, Averoes,
Damascan John and Constantine, and those
Like Bernard, John of Gaddesden, (just dead
And gone), and Gilbert; every one he'd read.
He was abstemious in what he ate;
Though this seemed little, it was adequate
And most nutritious and digestible.
He never bothered much about the Bible.
Of blue and scarlet cloth his cloak was made
With silken lining of a different shade.
But yet in spending money he seemed meagre,
To keep the fees he earned he seemed most eager;
For gold's a sovereign tonic; so, in short,
Great stores of gold were what he chiefly sought.'
son of John of Gaunt
son of Henry IV
son of Henry V
fall of Constantinople in 1453 scattered the Greek scholars, with their precious
manuscripts, all over Europe.
son of Richard, Duke of York
son of Edward IV
brother of Edward IV
son of Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond
son of Henry VII
of England, with Henry as supreme head, separate from Rome but otherwise
Catholic. Dissolution of the
son of Henry VIII died from consumption at the age of 16.
The English church became
Protestant. Parliament's Acts of Uniformity enforced the Book of Common Prayer.
daughter of Henry VIII
Mary restored the Roman
Catholic church and married her cousin, Philip II of Spain. Her burning of
almost 300 Protestants made the people hate her and Rome.
daughter of Henry VIII
In 1559 Elizabeth settled
the church on a moderate Protestant course.
of Margaret (daughter of Henry VII)
Puritans, or extreme
Protestants, who had already been restive under Elizabeth, grew increasingly
dissatisfied with the Church of England, which they felt was still too Catholic.
son of James I (He insisted
on the concept of “monarchy by divine right”.)
The measures by Bishop Laud
and the Court of Star Chamber to restrain the Puritan press and pulpit, and the
prosecution of Puritan leaders in 1637, led to an outcry against prerogative
courts. Charles's attempts in 1637 to impose English-style worship in Scotland
led to a rebellion, and eventual execution of King Charles.
1635 Sir Thomas Browne, the
physician - reduction of worldly phenomena to symbols of mystical truth in Religio
Medici (Religion of a Doctor).
Culpepper – The English Physician
Culpepper – the Complete Herbal
After a Royalist uprising
in 1655, Cromwell divided England into 11 military districts commanded by major
generals. This, more than anything except the killing of Charles I, turned
people against Cromwell and taught them to hate Puritans and standing armies.
Cromwell - Not respected by the people or the army.
House of Stuart (restored)
son of Charles I
Parliament restored bishops
to the church and expelled Dissenters (Protestants who did not conform to the
Church of England), restricting their worship and political activity. In 1673
the Test Act removed Roman Catholics from the royal government.
1665 the last outbreak of bubonic plague occurred.
Herbs I had in my own
garden (the House was built in 1814).
Hawthorn – loss
of cardiac function,
feelings of congestions and oppression in the heart region, increasing blood
flow to the heart muscles and
restoring normal heart beat.
cystitis, helps relieve fluid retention,
rheumatic conditions. Can also use Cooch grass
root for cystitis – made some tea with root for Cisse Roberts and Chris her
husband, a keen gardener never forgave me. She would only let him dig up cooch
grass when she wanted some more root for the tea. She had suffered for about ten
years and within a fortnight no problem.
Rowan – (to keep away witches).
Ash – (to keep away witches).
Elder (to keep away witches) –
throats and coughs
also rub on young buds to charm warts away.
Broom lovely yellow blossom - dropsy.
Blackthorn - sloes for sloe gin.
Buddleia - butterfly bush.
Yew - treating
ovarian and other cancers
(the needles) but very dangerous.
Foxglove - in hedge - Heart
medicine strengthen the force of contraction and, at the same time, slow the
beat so that the period of relaxation between beats is lengthened. The heart
muscle thus obtains more rest even though it is working harder.
Old Man’s Beard - in hedge
resin is made into a tincture. This preparation is then taken and has a
Nightshade - in hedge
narcotic, diuretic, sedative, mydriatic, antispasmodic. Eye diseases and is
used as a pain-relieving lotion to treat neuralgia, gout, rheumatism and
also used as an anaesthetic in
Hood in hedge -
liniment of Aconite applied locally to the skin to relieve the pain of
neuralgia, lumbago and rheumatism -
used with success to prevent cardiac failure.
Near the compost heap:
Nettle bed - Soup for spring
- used to treat eczema
to stop bleeding,
Dandelions near compost heap –
leaves for salads and spring blood cleansing.
- increases the healing of wounds. Externally used for rashes,
inflammation and skin problems.
Internally, comfrey helping to cure ulcers
stimulate the appetite and digestion, diuretic and
sore throats. Fennel
and the herb is used as an eye wash for
Currant - juice
is excellent in febrile (fever) diseases and can be made to an extract which is
good for sore throats, the leaves make a tea which is cleansing. A decoction of
the bark used against, oedema and haemorrhoids.
Raspberry - Tea
made with the young fresh leaves but dried can be used for morning sickness, and
throughout pregnancy – helps with easy birth. Raspberry wine can also help
with birth and increasing virility among older men.
- Rhubarb pie -
Eucalyptus – colds and fevers – I
planted this in 1952.
mint - mint sauce with lamb.
reduce blood sugar levels, prevents peptic ulcers,
Basil leaves are used on itching skin,
Bay - culinary - wasp and bee stings.
Chamomile - Chamomile tea.
Mint - for the cat.
Feverfew - Migraine leaves eaten
between bread as a sandwich – very bitter
Garlic- culinary -
a digestive stimulant, diuretic, and anti-spasmodic,
high blood pressure
and lower blood sugar levels, Antibiotic, expels
Hyssop – Colds, Coughs
Lavender - keep moths of clothes -cure
relieves muscle spasms,
stimulates blood flow,
Balm - culinary -
is good for colds,
Lily of the Valley - fragrance.
a steam clears the sinuses and
helps relieve laryngitis,
stimulates the flow of bile.
Strongly antiseptic, good for cuts and wounds, treats coughs,
The diluted oil can be applied to toothache or painful joints.
- Sterility Tranquilizer,
reduces pain, controls blood pressure inhibit tumours
(Growing on apple tree).
Parsley – culinary -
promoter of menstruation,
helpful in stimulating a delayed period.
Penny royal – culinary - 'Drank
with wine, it is good for venomous bites, and applied to the nostrils with
vinegar revives those who faint and swoon. Dried and burnt, it strengthens the
gums, helps the gout, if applied of itself to the place until it is red, and
applied in a plaster, it takes away spots or marks on the face; applied with
salt, it profits those that are splenetic, or liver grown.... The green herb
bruised and put into vinegar, cleanses foul ulcers and takes away the marks of
bruises and blows about the eyes, and burns in the face, and the leprosy, if
drank and applied outwardly.... One spoonful of the juice sweetened with
sugar-candy is a cure for hooping-cough.' Culpepper.
Rosemary - culinary -
reduce headaches, anti-bacterial and
liver, the intestinal tract,
and the gallbladder.
Used as antiseptic gargles
strengthen the eyesight, alleviates varicose veins,
Sage – culinary -
reduce sweating sore throats,
Hanaoka Seishu (1760-1835), created
an anaesthetic compound called mafutsusan from six traditional
plant-based drugs, including aconite and the datura (see Thorn Apple). In
1805 Hanaoka used this compound while extracting a breast tumour in the world's
first recorded successful operation under anaesthetic; he later used it for
other operations, developing techniques for bladder stone removal and
contain thymol, taken as an infusion or syrup to treat flu
Onion culinary as per garlic.
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