William Salmon (1644-1713) was an English apothecary, quack physician and author. Salmon was born in London but little is known of his upbringing. In his late teens, Salmon set up a medical practice in Smithfield, treating all manner of illnesses and injuries for a low fee. He had no formal education but was a busy autodidact, accumulating and digesting a large collection of medical texts.
In time Salmon became part-physician, part-showman and part-salesman, flogging his own brand of cure-all pills and draughts. In 1671 the self-declared ‘Professor of Physic’ published his first medical book, Synopsis Medicinae. It was the first of more 25 books published by Salmon during his lifetime, almost all of which were copies, translations or adaptations of earlier works.
In 1696, Salmon released The Family Dictionary, a simple medical guide for household use. One instalment provides a cure for ‘trembling members’:
“If the members tremble and shake, that you cannot at certain times hold them still… anoint the parts where you find the trepidation with powers of lavender and drink two drams of water made with man’s or swine’s blood, brought to putrefaction… This must be frequently repeated for a month’s time.”
For gout, Salmon suggests a poultice of hot kite’s dung, camphor and soap. Freckles can be removed by mixing blackbird droppings with lemon juice and smearing on the affected areas. One of Salmon’s more interesting ‘cures’ is his recipe for anti-nymphomaniac lemonade:
“Lemonade: Scrape lemon peel, as much as you think fit, into water and sugar, and add a few drops of the oil of sulphur, with some slices of lemon, observing always to put half a pound of sugar to a pint of water. This is very wholesome for the stomach, creates appetite and good digestion… And in the case of the distemper called furor uterinus [‘uterine fury’ or nymphomania] take the feathers of a partridge, burn them for a considerable time under the party’s nose, so that the fume may ascend the nostrils, and drink a quarter of a pint of this lemonade after it.”