Hemlock and millipedes

In September 1762 Ann James, a fifty-five-year-old woman from Boughton Monchelsea in Kent, came to the attention of Josiah Colebroke, FRS.  For some years she had been in chronic pain: She complained of most excruciating stabbing pains in both breasts, which prevented her having any rest in the night, and made her so very miserable all … Continue reading Hemlock and millipedes

Curing conjunctivitis with frogspawn

Thomas Sydenham (1624–1689) was one of the most celebrated English physicians of the seventeenth century.  His Observationes Medicae (Medical Observations, 1676) contains a chapter which – perhaps optimistically – is entitled ‘Complete Methods of Curing Most Diseases’.  This is his remedy for conjunctivitis: Take ten ounces of blood from the arm, and next day exhibit … Continue reading Curing conjunctivitis with frogspawn