Colonial Apothecaries By: Maren #14

Can you believe it? Colonial apothecaries used to think rat meat would cure a cough! A doctor nowadays might get arrested for that. I can imagine it: "I prescribe one mouthful of rat meat every evening, that's a nasty cough." In this article you will read about colonial apothecaries, sicknesses in the time and crazy cures. Colonial apothecaries had some CRAZY ideas of what would cure you!

A germ under a microscope.

Colonial apothecary doctors rarely washed their hands- In fact, they believed washing hands actually SPREAD infection! Imagine that! Think about if a doctor today didn't wash their hands before a surgery or even just giving a patient a flu shot. A few of the most gruesome sicknesses included Blood sweat, a sudden sweat followed with blood. Black lung, a sickness from breathing in coal dust and having it stick in your lungs. Excrescence, an unusual or unnatural growth of skin. Hematemesis, vomiting blood. Doctors thought that cutting your arm and bleeding you (bloodletting) let out all the bad diseases. What would they think about modern blood transfusions? They'd probably think we were crazy giving blood to other people. I bet they would think it SPREAD unwanted diseases instead of helping people.

Leeches were and still are used for blood removal. ICKY.

Curing a fever with strange ingredients was a common thing in colonial times. They even used ingredients like dead lice! One recipe for a cure was crush dead lice and wait 3 days, sift the lice carcasses and mix them with white wine. When the wine soaks in, with the lice sift the mixture again and feed it to your patient. Other ingredients in ''cures'' included rat or mouse meat or more pleasant ingredients such as lemon balm, honey suckle, foxglove, roses, sage, columbine and flax. Colonial settlers apparently thought that rose could cure anything.

Herbs were used in medicines and healing teas.

The Apothecaries and their patients both believed this. It shows you how far modern medicine has come since then. Colonial cures and medicines almost seemed like a witch's magic potion.


Created with images by watts_photos - "Colonial Williamsburg Virginia apothecary medicine shop" • ZEISS Microscopy - "Mouse Intestine" • Mick E. Talbot - "Leech" • tristanf - "Pot of herbs"

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