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The Scrivener: Natural Therapies For The Ailing Or Dyeing

Read some of these 17th Century remedies, unearthed by Brian Barratt, and you will instantly persuade yourself that you are not in need of treatment.

Brianís inquiring mind and word wizardry combine to create the most satisfying reading. For more of his columns please click on The Scrivener in the menu on his page.

Are you suspicious of artificial drugs? Worried about side effects? Donít trust the big pharmaceutical companies? Looking for alternative therapies?

OK, here are a few natural remedies you might find useful. They come from 'Secrets of Art and Nature', published in 1660. Theyíre old, so they must be good.

For torments of the Belly

They report, that when the Belly is pained, if you apply a living Duck to your Belly, the disease will pass into the Duck, and she will dye, but you shall be cured.

Windes of the Stomache

Be not afeared of the Windes that issue from thy Stomache for they are the signs of a Healthy Manne. If the Windes bring with them the Companie of Ache and Ague thou shouldst seek the Mercies of a goode Doctour of Physick. He shall treat the Patient as befits his Condition wether he be Ailing or Dyeing.

Another remedie

I know one who drank dry Ox dung in broth, and it presently cured him of the Collick. I have heard also by sufficient men, that many countrey people have been cured by drinking it. Some do not drink the dung but the juyce pressed from it, which is far better.

Another remedie for the Collick

The heart of a Larke bound to the thigh is excellent against the Collick, and some have eaten it raw, with very good success.

An Electuary against Wormes

Take seed of Hartichoke one Ounce, white Dittany two Ounces and a half, Saffron half a dram, Honey clarified two pound, or what is sufficient to make an Electuary.

Venemous Wormes Biting

Take an Adle Egge, which is found in a hens nest, which is hatched, take the Egge and break into a dish, and beate the same well with a wooden spatter, then wet Two therein, and lay it to the Wormes biting.

For a Dysentery

Take Hares runnet, Hares blood what is sufficient, of each a like quantity ; Mingle them and give them the Patient. This cures all Belly Fluxes.

To strengthen and bind up the mouth of the stomach

Take powder of Coriander prepared one Ounce, of Anniseed half an Ounce; of red Corall, Cinamon of each half a dram, powder of conserve of red Roses dried five Ounces; Let the Patient take a spoonfull after meat.

Belly lose to help

Scrape a handfull of Polypody clean, boyle it over the fire, then put the root and the water into a cloose stoole, let the sick sit thereon, use this two or three times in a day, and this used three daies will cure the same.

A Medicament against heat of the Stomach

Take old Sugar of Roses and Crabs stones, which being powdred sprinkle into your Sugar of Roses, adde a little Bolearmoniack : Mingle all these together ; yet observe that the Crabs stones must be half as much in quantity as the Sugar of Roses.

For all Impostumes

Keep an old Gander fasting three days ; then give him pieces of an Eel new killed, and preserve his dung ; you have a present remedy for all Impostumes.

For Pains of the Collick, and inward Impostumes

Scrape the skull bone of the Patient, or file away some part of it in that place where the suture is in the forepart of the head, in the upper part like a Cross; of that powder, with broth or water, or wine if there be no Feaver, give the Patient one dram, or half a dram at one time to drink; it will make him vomit and purge him exceedingly; wherefore you must give it before the Patients forces are spent.

Pains of the Belly

Any Bone of a Man hanged so that it may touch the flesh, is thought to cure pains of the Belly that come at certain times.


On second thoughts, these remedies have not been tested in the lab. It might be better that thou shouldst seek the Mercies of a goode Doctour of Physick, after all.


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