The history of medicine is filled with unusual and rather horrifying remedies for various ailments. For example, in the mid-17th century, King Charles II drank a brew made of crushed human skull and alcohol, called “King’s Drops” while lying on his death bed (after bloodletting, blowing hellebore up his nose, scarifying his flesh, and blistering his scalp didn’t work). Several hundred years earlier, in the 12th century, “mummy powder” was used to treat headaches, stomach aches, and ulcers. The powder was made from mummies looted from Egypt.
Such examples are nearly endless. But for the sake of focus and hilarity, this article will simply feature a series of treatments involving poop. From all sorts of creatures.
These examples come from a 1747 book called Pharmacopoeia Universalis: or, A New Universal English Dispensatory, by R. James, MD.
Please note that I have only pulled out the remedies involving dung, but the author provides numerous remedies from other parts of the animals as well, including the head, eyes, blood, lungs, brain, heart, fat, testicles, urine, and more. All to make people feel better.
I have preserved the author’s capitalization usage, but have changed the old English style of using “f” to the modern day “s” to make reading about medicinal feces more enjoyable.
Corvus, the Raven.
The Dung, suspended around the Necks of Children, is reported to ease their Coughs, and procure them an easy Dentition.
Columba, the Pigeon.
The Dung is violently heating, on which Account it is a Caustic, and Discutient, and excites a Redness of the Skin, by attracting the Blood thither; whence it is of frequent Use in stimulating Plaisters, and Cataplasms. Triturated and sifted, and applied with the Seed of Cresses, it relieves under inveterate Disorders, as the Gout, Hermicrania, Vertigo, Headache, and others; internally it wastes the Stone, and provokes Urine.
Merula, the Black-Bird. Pliny informs us, that this bird roasted with Myrtle Berries inclosed in it, cure the Dysentery. The Dung, mix’d with Vinegar, takes off Freckles.
Mus major, the Rat.
The part used in the Dung; nine Pieces of Rat’s Dung swallowed, are accounted, by some of our good Women, a singular Remedy for a Suppression of the Menses.
The Dung is refrigerating, drying, aperitive, and discutient: Whence it is of very great Efficacy in the Jaundice, and other Distempers; and, used externally, cures a Tumor of the Spleen, a Thymus, Corns, Warts, and other cutaneous Tumors; and is, also, very comfortable in Ambustions.
Pava, the Peacock.
The Dung, dried and pulveriz’d, and the Weight of a Dram macerated at Night in Wine, and exhibited for many Days together, have a peculiar Virtue of curing the Vertigo and Epilepsy.
Human Dung is mollifying, maturating, and anodyne whence it is very serviceable in mitigating Pains excited by Charms, for ripening pestilential Carbuncles, and for a Phlegmom, particularly of the Throat, as in a Quinsey; and to prevent an inflammation in Wounds; Some even prescribe it inwardly for the Quinsey, to repress the Paroxysms of the Fevers, and for the Epilepsy.
Fast-forward 150 years and poop is still popular. Here’s one more example regarding cow dung from The Medical Age, Vol. 12, 1894:
In stone bruises, in children, where the swelling is painful and tense, and the little sufferer lies awake and cries half the night, a beneficial local application is assured by the country people of this vicinity to be a large, fat and unctuous poultice of cow’s dung; it should be gathered soon after it is passed, and the whole foot wrapped in the soothing mass. It is said to ripen the swelling in a few hours, immediately soothe the pain, and so soften the skin that it is easily removed.
Cow dung, in fact, has been used medicinally in India for centuries. A mixture of cow dung and cow urine is believed to cure diabetes, cancer, and arthritis.
Shitty health calls for shitty cures.