1748: Cure baldness with cat dung and onion juice


John K’eogh (1680s-1754) was an Irish priest, theologian and naturalist. Born in Strokestown, County Roscommon, K’eogh was the son of a prominent clergyman from Limerick. He was educated at Trinity College in Dublin then undertook study in Europe, before returning to Ireland and serving as chaplain to Baron Kingston in his native Roscommon. Toward the end of his life K’eogh authored two significant volumes of medical receipts. The first (Botanologia Universalis Hibernicaor, 1735) focused on herbal potions and treatments, while the second (Zoologia Medicinalis Hibernica, 1748) contained an extensive collection of animal-based remedies. As might be expected, the second text contains unusual advice, such as the diverse medical uses of house cats. Their grease, when applied as an ointment, is effective at “dissolving tumours” and “prevails against nodes in the skin”, while pulverised cat liver is “good against the gravel [kidney and bladder stones]” and prevents stoppage of urine.”

Other cat-based receipts mentioned by K’eogh include remedies for eyesight problems:

“The ashes of a cat’s head, blown into the eyes, or mixed with honey for a balsam… is good against pearls [cataracts], blindness and dimness of the sight.”

Several uses for cat’s blood:

“[Cat] blood kills worms in the nose and in other parts of the skin… Ten drops of blood taken out of the tail of a bore cat, drank, cures the epilepsy… A few drops of the blood given in any proper vehicle are good to cure convulsion fits.”

For something to soothe those aching piles:

“The flesh, being salted and bruised, draws splinters and thorns out of the flesh and helps to cure the haemorrhoids.”

And finally, an interesting cure for hair loss:

“The dung, pulverised one ounce and mixed with mustard seed in powder [and] juice of onions… cures the alopecia or baldness.”


Source: John K’eogh, Zoologia Medicinalis Hibernica, 1748. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

1661: Ease swollen testes with butter-fried horse dung


Johann Jacob Wecker was a Swiss physician, naturalist and alchemist of the mid-16th century. Wecker authored several popular tracts on alchemy and medicine. He is perhaps best known for his account of genital malformations, including the first documented case of a double penis, discovered on a corpse in Bologna. In the mid 1600s an English physician named Read collated Wecker’s medical and surgical receipts into an eighteen-book collection, Secrets of Art and Nature. The 1661 edition contained hundreds of suggested medical treatments for all manner of complaints – including several cures for “pains of the belly”:

“The heart of a lark bound to the thigh… and some have eaten it raw with very good success.”

“I know one who drank dry ox dung in broth and it presently cured him of the colic… Some do not drink the dung but the juice pressed from it, which is far better.”

“Any bone of a man hanged, so that it may touch the flesh [may] cure pains of the belly.”

“Apply a living duck to your belly, the disease will pass into the duck.”

For excessive bleeding, Wecker suggests a trip to the pigpen:

“To staunch blood… Blood running immoderately out of any part of the body will be presently stopped if hog’s dung [still] hot be wrapped up in fine thin cotton linen and put into the nostrils, women’s privities or any other place that runs with blood. I write this for country people rather than for courtiers, being a remedy fit for their turn…”

Wecker also provides handy beauty tips. He offers recipes for dying the hair numerous colours, including silver, yellow, red, green and several shades of black. There are also remedies for encouraging hair growth and removing unwanted hair, both of which involve rodent excreta:

“To diminish the hair… cat’s dung dried and powdered and mingled to a pap with strong vinegar will do it. With this you must rub the hairy place often in a day, and in a short time it will grow bald… The piss of mice or rats will [also] make a hairy part bald.”

“That hair may grow again quickly, the ashes of burnt bees [mixed] with mice dung, if you anoint this with oil of roses, will make hair grow in the palm of your hand.”

Lastly, for “swollen codds [testicles], Wecker suggests breaking out the frypan:

“Take new horse dung, mix the same with vinegar and fresh butter, fry it in a pan and, as hot as the patient may endure, lay it to the grieved place.”


Source: Johann Wecker and Dr R. Read, Secrets of Art and Nature, 1661 ed. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

1910: Mantelet invents the breast douche


Nothing is known about Frenchman Alexis Mantelet – other the fact he was a man seemingly obsessed with breasts and the cleanliness thereof. In 1910 and 1927 Mantelet filed two applications for devices to wash the female bosom. The first of these he dubbed the “breast douche”. Pictured below, Mantelet’s “breast douche” was a long hose and tap fitting, connected to a cupping arrangement housing “two or preferably three rings of strong jets”. It was then placed briefly on each breast, while the user adjusted the jets to her liking. According to Mantelet this process achieved:

“A complete, vigorous and abundant douche over the whole surface of the breast… so that the douche may very well be of short duration. This douche therefore gives very desirable results [without] shock or undue chill.”

breast douche

Mantelet fails to explain the necessity or advantages of washing one’s breasts so thoroughly. However 17 years later he had changed some of his views about “breast douching”. Mantelet’s second patent, lodged in April 1927, was a less complex handheld device for “sprinkling the breasts”, rather than bombarding them. Harsh jets of water on “delicate mammillae”, wrote Mantelet, deliver “an exaggerated massage of the muscular fibres of the mammary glands”, toughening the breast and possibly distorting its shape. The 1927 version of Mantelet’s breast washer was easier on the breasts and would “preserve the due proportion of their shape”. Both patents were granted but it seems that Mantelet’s “breast douches” never reached the market.


Source: US Patent Office records, Nos. 973445 (1910) and 1746861 (1927). Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

1870: Nights in will “redevelop shrivelled breasts”


Orson Squire Fowler (1809-1887) was an American physician, phrenologist and writer. The son of a New York farmer and preacher, Fowler studied at Amherst College, graduating in 1834 alongside Henry Ward Beecher. While at Amherst, Fowler became interested in phrenology, the pseudo-science of ascertaining character and personality by studying the dimensions of the skull. Few academics took this seriously but Fowler nevertheless made money by giving ‘skull readings’ to his fellow students. After graduating he opened a phrenological practice in New York City, which later became quite profitable.

A prolific writer and lecturer, Fowler was also known for his quirky theories and social reforms. In the 1850s he pioneered the construction of octagon-shaped houses, claiming they were easier to build, more spacious and symmetrical and conducive to “a harmonious environment”. Fowler was something of a progressive, arguing against slavery, child labour and corporal punishment. A supporter of the ‘votes for women’ lobby, his views on women were also relatively enlightened. Nevertheless Fowler was still prone to Victorian naivete about women. Writing in 1870 he told his male readers that slackness in their wives’ breasts could be corrected with a little quality time together:

“Have your wife’s breasts declined since you courted and married her? It is because her womb has declined… and nursing up her love will rebuild both her womb and breasts… Court her up again, as you used to do before marriage. Besides reddening up her now pale cheeks, lightening up her now lagging motion and animating her flagging spirits, you will redevelop her shriveled breasts! Stay home at nights from your clubrooms, billiard saloons and lodges to read or talk to her… you’ll get well ‘paid’ every time you see her bust. And your infants will be better fed.”

Conversely, Fowler warned that continuing to ignore your wife and neglect her emotional needs will produce “two opposite results” – in other words, the more you go out, the saggier they will become. In addition, Fowler was also a vocal critic of women who read novels.


Source: Orson S. Fowler, Creative and Sexual Science, or Manhood, Womanhood and their Mutual Interrelations, Cincinatti, 1870. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

1609: Curl your moustache for sneeze-free kissing


moustache
An appropriately maintained early 17th century beard and moustache

Simion Grahame (1570-1614) was a Scottish-born writer and courtier to James VI. Little is known about Grahame’s life. He was a good scholar who soldiered for a time, after which he traveled widely in Europe, possibly while in exile. In the early 1600s Grahame returned to Scotland and turned his hand to writing, earning the patronage of James VI. He later moved to the Italian states and spent his final years as a Franciscan friar. One of Grahame’s better known works was his 1609 Anatomie of Humors. Much of this manuscript dwells on human emotions, particularly melancholy or depression, something Grahame himself seemed familiar with. But it is also interspersed with advice about conduct, manners and how to forge and maintain good relationships with others. In one chapter Grahame urged gentlemen to keep their beards and moustaches clean, well trimmed and tightly curled:

“…A man is to be commended if he be [clean] in his linings, his hair well dressed, his beard well brushed and always his upper lip well curled… For if he chance to kiss a gentlewoman, some rebellious hairs may happen to startle in her nose and make her sneeze…”

Those who did not attend to their facial hair, wrote Grahame, were slobs, not fit to socialise with:

“[These] snotty nosed gentlemen, with their drooping moustaches covering their mouth and becoming a harbour for meldrops [mucus]… He will drink with anybody whatsoever, and after he hath washed his filthy beard in the cup… he will suck the hair so heartily with his under lip.”


Source: Simion Grahame, The Anatomie of Humors, Edinburgh, 1609. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.