1598: Get rid of unwanted hair with drowned frogs

Christopher Wirtzung was a prominent German physician of the late 16th century. Wirtzung’s medical guide, The General Practice of Physicke, was written in 1598. It was translated into English in 1619 and subsequently became popular in Britain.

Much of Wirtzung’s medical advice is standard for its time. For example, Wirtzung attributes earache and deafness to “worms, fleas and little creeping things” that hatch and grow in the ears. To conceive a male child, Wirtzung suggests sprinkling one’s meat with a powder, made by drying and grinding:

“…the stone [testicle] of a bore hog being two years old, and the pizzle [penis] of a shag, shaven… two pairs of fox stones and 50 or threescore [60] sparrow brains… the pizzle of a bull and… cloves, saffron, nutmeg and rosemary.”

For women struggling with unwanted hair on the face or body, Wurtzel suggests the following homemade depilatory:

“Take a pint of wine, drown 20 green frogs therein, or as many as can be drowned therein, then set the pot 40 days in the warm sun… Afterwards, strain it hard through a cloth, anoint the place therewith where you take away the hair…”

Source: Christopher Wurtzel, The General Practice of Physicke, 1598. 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.