Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Scatological Medicine [British Medical Journal] 1892

Scatological Medicine [British Medical Journal] 1892

In China pills made from the dung of the Grand Lama of Thibet are used as infallible antidotes to disease. Dr. Mew, of the United States army, recently had the opportunity of analyzing some of them, and he stated that he found "nothing at all remarkable" in them. These sacred pills had been preserved in a silver reliquary, elaborately chased and ornamented, and they came into the possession of Mr. W. W. Rockhill, Secretary of the Legation of the United States in Peking, through whom they were transmitted to Dr. Mew. Strange as this may seem to those who have not studied the subject, it is not at all remarkable to the ethnologist. Human and animal dung has always been a favorite medicine in some quarters of the world. Such things are never considered disgusting, the Grand Lama offers his excrement to a suffering world as a precious remedy, and the material is provided with great and solemn ceremonies and many prayers. It is not considered by any means a mere excrement, but as a symbolical alvine dejection of miraculous virtue.

 From the day of Pliny the dung of almost every kind of animal has been used in medicine. Dog dung mixed with honey was prescribed for sore throat, and wolf dung as an anti-colic. Goat dung was considered of great value in tumor of the spleen, and cat dung for gout in the feet. Lion dung was an anti-epileptic, and mouse dung in the constipation of children. Dr. Jacob Hunerwolf, in l694, actually wrote a treatise on mouse dung as a laxative, in which he very highly extrolled the remedy. Human urine is considered in many places as a most valuable tonic medicine. Daniel Beckherius, in his "Medicus Microcosmus," published in London in 1660, recommends a drink of one's own urine, taken while fasting, for obstruction of the liver and spleen, for dropsy and jaundice. The urine of boys was recommended in fever, and a "spirit of urine" was distilled for gout. Boyle, the great philosopher, esteemed human urine so highly as a medicine that he declared that a full account of its virtues would fill a volume. Dr. Neale, in the Practitioner, November, 1881, p. 343 et seq., wrote a paper on urine, and compared it with beef-tea and Leibig extract. "Many writers have endeavored to impress the public and the profession with the true value of beef-tea, namely, that it is not a nutrient, but a stimulant, and that it mainly contains excrementative materials." Dr. Brown-Sequard's remedy for the invigoration of the aged and debilitated would not be considered at all remarkable by those savage Australians, of whom Mr. P. Beveridge tells in his "Aborigines of Victoria and Riverina." Pliny mentions the use of human semen as a medicine, and Avicenna prescribed it for gout. Paullini advises the dirt from soiled stockings as a remedy for epistaxis (p. 52). Dried and powdered after-birth was used as an anti-epileptic, and secundines were used for the same purpose. The curious investigator of the odd proposals and practice of men of medicine and medicine-men will find in Captain Bourke's "Scatological Rites of All Nations" a vast amount of information on this and kindred subjects. He has compiled his great work from one thousand authorities, and though not intended for general perusal, it is one that will interest and inform those at least who consider that the "proper study of mankind is mm."—British Medical Journal.

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