Category Archives: Medicine

Medicine Science

The anatomy of human bodies

These images are all taken from The Anatomy of Human Bodies published in 1698.  The level of detail and skilled execution of the images reveal a depth of sophistication in the early modern understanding of human anatomy which might be surprising. Click on the images to enlarge them.







 Back muscles








 Pregnant Woman






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Dining Household Medicine

It often makes Men Paralytick

These snippets come from The Natural History of COFFEE, THEE, CHOCOLATE, TOBACCO. In four several Sections; WITH A TRACT OF Elder and Juniper-Berries (1682).

As for the qualities and nature of Coffee, our own Countryman, Dr Willis, has publish’d a very rational Account. He says that in several Headachs, Dizziness, Lethargies, and Catarrahs, where there is a gros habit of Body, and a cold heavy Constitution, there Coffee may be proper and successful: and in these cases he sent his Patients to the Coffee-House rather than to the Apothecaries Shop. The Dr makes one unlucky observation of this Drink, that it often makes Men Paralytick, and does so slacken their strings, as they become unfit for sports, and exercises of the Bed, and their Wives recreations.

A Persian King, named Sultan Mahoment Caswin, who reigned in Persia, was so accustomed to drinking Coffee that he had an unconceivable aversion to Women, and that the Queen standing one day at her Chamber Window, and perceiving they were about gelding a Horse, ask’d some standers by, why they treated so handom a Creature in that manner; whereupon answere was made her that he was too fiery and mettlesome. The Queen reply’d that trouble  might have been spar’d, since Coffee would have wrought the same effect, the experience being already try’d upon the King her Husband.

Coffee is said to be very good for those that have taken too much Drink, Meat, or Fruit, also against shortness of Breath and Rheum. Arabian Women are observ’d to promote their Monthly courses with Coffee, and to tipple constantly at it all the time they are flowing.

As for the manner of preparing Coffee, the Europeans do peel and take off the outward skin of the Berries, which being so prepar’d, are Bak’d, and Burnt, afterwards grinded to Powder; one Ounce of which they mix commonly with a Pint and a half of hot Water, which has been boyl’d half away, then they are digested together, till they are well united.

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Death Household Medicine

To preserve from the Infection of Plague

These snippets come from a useful little book of advice on dealing with, and surviving, the plague. Published in 1665, it is entitled FOR EVERY Housholder, & his Family, During the Time of the PLAGUE. 

Those that fear the Plague, and are not Infected, let them take of this Drink hereafter following, which is twice in every Week, half a spoonful at a time: It hath been observed, that never any one dyed of the Sickness, that did take it in time. Take three Pints of Malmsey, a handful of Rue, as much of Sage; boyl these to a Quart, then strain out the Herbs, and then take an Ounce of Long-Pepper, Vinegar and Nutmegs, all beaten small in a Morter, and put into the Wine, and boyl it a little; then take it off, and put into it one Ounce of Mithridate, two Ounces of the best Treacle, and a quarter of a Pint of Aqua-Vitae, and put all into the Wine, and so keep it.

The Use of it: If any be Infected, take one spoonful of it, as soon as the Party doth presume himself Infected, lukewarm; and so goe to Bed, and sweat two or three hours; and then dry the Body well, and keep warm, and drink no cold Drink, but warm Drink and Caudles, and Posset-Drink, with Marigold Leaves and Flowers: When the Party hath sweat, and is well dryed with warm Clothes; and so long as the Party is ill, take a spoonful Morning and Evening.

To Preserve from the Infection of the Plague: Take Garlick, and peel it, and mince it small, put it into new Milk, and eat it fasting.

Another special Preservative: Take an Egge, make a hole in the top of it, take out the white, and the yolk, and fill the shell only with Saffron; roast the shell and Saffron together, in Embers of Charcole, untill the shell wax yellow; then beat shell and all together in a Morter, with half a spoonful of Mustard-Seed: Now so soon as any suspition is had of Infection, dissolve the weight of a French Crown, in ten spoonfulls of Posset-Ale, drink it luke-warm, and sweat upon it in your naked Bed.


IF you fear you are Infected, or feel any Kernel rising, or any Apostumation burning or pricking, abstain from Sleep, for Sleep leadeth the Venome to the Heart. That Day that you are Infected, eat but little, or no Food; for evil Humours so fill you, that they take away your Stomack: Or if you do eat, then do you covet to sleep, and feel a great burning, with a kind of shuddering, as it were, through Cold: You have also a great Pain in the fore part of the Head: You cannot endure to ride, or to walk, or any motion of the Body; but are dull, lumpish, and given wholly over to-sadness and drowsiness.

Drink for ordinary Dyet: So near as you can, let the Patients ordinary Drink, be good small Ale, of eight dayes old

For Sores: Take a hot Loaf, new taken forth of the Oven, apply it to the Sore, and it will doubtless break the same: but afterward bury the same Loaf deep enough in the Ground, for fear of any Infection; for if either Dogg, or any other thing, do feed thereon, it will infect a great many.

These Things ought duly to be looked unto· viz.

IT is very convenient, that you keep your Houses, Streets, Yards, back-sides, Sinks and Kennells sweet and clean, from all standing Puddles, Dunghills, and corrupt Moystures, which ingender stinking Savours, that may be noysome, or breed Infection.  Nor suffer no Doggs to come running into your Houses; neither keep any, except it be backward, in some Place of open Air; for they are very dangerous, and not sufferable in time of Sickness, by reason they run from Place to Place, and from one House to another, feeding upon the uncleanest things, that are cast forth in the Streets; and are a most apt Cattel to take Infection of any Sickness, and then to bring it into the House.

For Ayring your Rooms: Ayr your several Rooms with Charcole-fires, made in Stone Panns or Chaffing dishes, and not in Chimneys; set your Panns in the middle of the Rooms; ayr every Room once a Week (at the least) and put into your Fire a little quantity of Frankincense, Juniper, dryed Rosemary, or of Bay-Leaves.

For Ayring Appare: Let the Apparel of the Diseased Persons be well and often washed, be it Linnen or Woollen: or let it be ayred in the Sun, or over Panns of Fire, or over a Chaffing dish of Coals; and fume the same with Frankincense, Juniper, or dryed Rosemary.

To take the Infection from a House Infected: Take large Onions, peel them, and lay three or four of them upon the Ground; let them lye ten Dayes, and those peeled Onions will gather all the Infection into them, that is in one of those Rooms: But bury those Onions afterward deep in the Ground.

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Take of these Pills


These snippets come from an advertisement from 1690.  The astonishing D Woodward not only has the gift of second sight, he is also able to cure every disease known to man with his pills & diet-drinks.

Honest Invitation: At the sign of the Globe, over against the Cheshire-cheese in Arundel-street, by St.Clements Church in the Strand, lives D WOODWARD, professor of Astrology & Physick; who:

In Astrology, Resolveth Questions as what part of the World, City, or Country is best to live in? Life, whether long or short, happy or unhappy? One absent, if alive or dead? Servants or Lodgers, if trusty or not?  If good to hire, or buy the House, Ship, or Land desired? Money owing, if recoverable? Whether a Woman be with Child? Or ever shall have Children? Law suits, what shall overcome? What manner of Person one shall marry? If have the party desired? If attain the Office or Place of Preferment? One diseased, if curable or not? Or any other legal Demand, that depends on the Rules of Astrology. He also calculateth Nativities, and teacheth the Art in all its parts, as may be seen in his Almanacks yearly published.

2.In PHYSICK; You may have his advice and Medicines ready prepared for the Cure of several diseases. His Balsamick Pills, which are infallibly good in the Cure of the SCURVY, Dropsy, Head aches, Melancholy, Sleepy Evil, Giddiness in the Head, Dulness of Hearing, Dimness of Sight, Madness, Jaundice, Agues, Sore Eyes, Fevers, Stinking Breath, Want of Appetite, Green-sickness, Pains in Stomach, Liver, Spleen, Griping in the Breast, Bowels or Joynts. Opens obstructions of the Bladder, cures Barrenness, help fits, quickens the Senses, clear the Sight, add a good Colour to the Face; purify, cleanse and sweetens the Blood. In a word these Pills are cheap, safe, easie, and approved help for most Diseases happening to Man, Woman, or Child, as hundreds can testify. Price of the whole Box 3s. of that Half Box 1s.6d with Directions.

Pills also prepared for the Cure of CLAPS, French POX.  With these Pills, his Diet-drinks (and other Antidotes against the POX) many have been cured. But the Pills have cured many persons and the Diet-Drinkes and Antidotes omitted. If been trading with any unclean Person, take of these Pills in time, they prevent as well as cure.  Price 2s the Box, with Printed Directions.

His Hours are from 10 in the Morning till 7 at Night. With Allowance.

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