Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Renaissance Zoological Texts

PZ Myers posted this little snippet from a 1607 text on his weblog. It apparently comes from a treatise on assorted animals, including their uses in medicine; this particular passage cites uses for mice.

A mouse can be skinned, cut in two, and placed over an arrow wound to help the healing process; if a mouse is beaten into pieces and mixed with old wine, the concoction will cause hair to grow on the eyelids; if skinned, steeped in oil, and rubbed with salt, the mouse will cure pains in the lungs; sodden mice can prevent children from urinating too much; mice that are burned and converted to powder are fine for cleaning the teeth; mouse dung, prepared in various manners, is useful for treating sciatica, headache, migraine, the tetters, scabs, red bunches on the head, gout, wounds, spitting of blood, colick, constipation, stones, producing abortions, putting on weight, and increasing lactation in women.

Um... ewww! The most disturbing thing is that this doesn't sound that much more crazy than some of the "alternative medicine" practices that you hear about today.

EDIT: I'm still trying to figure out why you might want to grow hair on your eyelids. What was this person thinking? The actual source, by the way, appears to be Edward Topsell's The History of Four-footed Beasts (available from Amazon, believe it or not).

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