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Selected treatments

Most of the treatments recorded in the casebooks combined various elements, blending substances derived from plants, animals and minerals to make an ointment or a drink, or employing different procedures together or in sequence. Treatments often mixed the mundane with (to modern eyes) the outlandish. The list that follows provides examples of real treatments recorded by Forman, Napier, and their associates, some prescribed for specific patients and some copied into the casebooks in the hope that they would one day prove useful. They are glossed in this list, rather than transcribed. For a fuller discussion of the types of treatment found in the casebooks see What treatments did they prescribe?, and for a list of common abbreviations and obscure terms see our glossary of treatments. For more examples of treatments see: all the entries with treatments; the entries with recipes; prescription entries; those notes recording potentially useful treatments and recipes; and prescription notes.

CASE10889 (White wine, pigeon dung, smalledge.) CASE15872 (Watercress, 2 black sheep’s hides boiled together for a bath to sit in.) CASE22096 (Take daffodil as much as will fill an egg shell, warm it & with ginger & saff take it.) CASE22717 (Horse dung.) CASE23056 (Pigeon to each foot.) CASE23061 (Cat’s blood used by patient.) CASE36451 (The caul from the face of a firstborn female infant, powdered, and as much as will fit onto a groat put into Mr Hawkins’s broth without his knowledge.) CASE37886 (Suppositories with mice’s dung.) CASE38901 (Powdered sheep’s bladder.) CASE39214 (Plaster of cow dung butter & vinegar & mallows fried.) CASE39239 (Juice of radishes, oil of scorpion or salad oil, white wine, to be often squirted into his penis.) CASE39661 (Broth of the testicles of a boar pig beaten to powder, the liver of a frog.) CASE41870 (Put 3 frogs in his stools.) CASE43644 (Give her toads’ bones powdered in cardus water. 2 bones pounded in 2 spoonfuls of cardus water. One bone & spoonful fasting in the forenoon & another about 2 in the afternoon.) CASE46541 (Hogs’ bladders & powdered stag’s pizzle.) CASE7130 (Shave head before applying treatment.) CASE47367 (Bezoar.) CASE51370 (A pigeon slit to the neck & to each foot.) CASE52817 (Leeches applied inwardly to the secret parts.) CASE55837 (Hogs’ dung smoked; a cloth dipped in wine vinegar under her breasts & privy parts.) CASE56211 (Cow dung, butter & vinegar.) CASE63590 (Clip the hair on the nape of her neck & boil it in her own urine with mother of thyme & 2 pebble stones. Take mother of thyme & lay it between those 2 pebble stones where these were first put under her bed 3 nights & then afterward seethed with mother of thyme & the hair in the nape of her neck.) CASE64487 (Her mother put about her a girdle of quicksilver.) CASE68688 (Rub it with the hand of a Dead woman & with a plate of lead & quicksilver.) CASE71682 (Horse hoof, skull of a man.) CASE72398 (Man’s skull; the heel of a woman for a man, & of a man for a woman, the right heel dried & powdered.) CASE75916 (cock slit and applied all over the head) CASE78416 (half a pigeon to each foot.)

NOTE5061 (Take a handful of live bees out of the hive in your naked hand & crush them in a quart of ale. & temper them well & sugar them & let him drink thrice a day as long as any lasteth to heal colic & stone when no physic will help.) NOTE5111 (Take Venice turpentine in 2 ounces oil of vitriol 16 drops. Her arm blood or any other blood of a woman and some of the woman’s water bewitched & mix all together. A spoonful 3 or 4 days together in the morning fasting & eat nothing 2 hours after. Good against all witchcraft & evil spirits witches, fairies & against sorcery.) NOTE6480 (Snails picked out of the shell & boiled in milk help against a consumption. Boiled from a quart of milk to a pint & taken twice a day. Excellent for the lungs.) NOTE9935 (For the numbness in the feet. Take fox’s grease & badger’s grease & mare’s grease & aqua vitae & bear’s grease, oil of spice & spirit of wine & honey of roses & so chufe it in with your hands.) NOTE10012 (For the falling sickness. Take a frog & cut her through the midest of the back & take out the liver & fold it in a cole wort leaf & burn it in a new earthen pot well closed & give the ashes to him or her to drink with wine, & if not healed at once then do so by another frog & do so still without doubt it will heal him if he use it, & the powder of man’s bones burned for the same is good.) NOTE10432 (2 frogs tied to each side in a linen cloth wound about the small of the back will draw away water from people sick of the dropsy. Apply them alive day by day for a month.) NOTE6318 (Take an old cock flay him & gartle him cut of all the flesh from the bones put into a Jug pot pasted from 7 to 7 then there will come thence a Jelly of some ten spoonfuls. Take every morning 2 spoonfuls very early & sleep on it. It will preserve from a consumption taken 2 or 3 years. Add a handful of rhubarb.) NOTE7574 (Remedy against miscarriage.) NOTE6603 (Tobacco fyrd with butter & strained excellent to kill any scrufe & white scall of the head or itch & scabs after due observation.) NOTE6643 (Recipes that Napier receives from his guest Mr Olevian.) NOTE9667 and NOTE9668 (Recipes for gross phlegm & viscous & windy... and against fevers phlegmatic or nocturna febris.) NOTE6744 and NOTE6745 (Put lice into the yard to move on to make water; or live frogs tied to the reins until they be dead & fresh still applied.) NOTE5618 (First let the party spit upon his hand & rub it hard upon the place pained then use a ring & rub the eye with the ring, let the party do so often as he is pained & that will give him great ease by the grace of god. Halleluiah, halleluiah, Halleluiah.) NOTE8236 (For a tympany for Captain Cony at St Albans experimented lately by him. The hand of a dead woman to stroke his belly 3 or 4 times. 2 apply a plaster of black snails, shells & all beaten in a cloth, from the stomach over the belly to the peritineum afresh one day & night for a night & this voided water abundantly & brought down his belly. For a woman, a man’s hand & for a man a woman’s hand.) NOTE5360 (Napier washed painful toe with urine salt & butter & applied Doctor T’s plaster of gums.)

Cite this as: Lauren Kassell, Michael Hawkins, Robert Ralley, and John Young, ‘Selected treatments’, A Critical Introduction to the Casebooks of Simon Forman and Richard Napier, 1596–1634,, accessed 21 September 2023.