Medieval Medical Treatments that Worked

Medieval Medical Treatments

The word “Medieval” often brings to mind castles and torture chambers, but it is also used to describe something old-fashioned and primitive. And nothing was more primitive in Medieval times than medicine.

Image of the green Knight of old fables, with NuSapia logo on shield

Most people living in the Middle Ages believed that disease could be caused by destiny, by wrongdoing, or by the stars themselves.

The famous Greek doctor Hippocrates believed the human body contained four humors representing air, fire, earth, and water and that good health relied on keeping those humors in balance.

While much of Medieval medicine was completely wrong and downright harmful, there were a few things these people got right.

  1. Garlic

According to legend, some people stayed alive during the Black Plague by covering themselves in a mixture of garlic and vinegar.

Raw garlic and vinegar are natural antibiotics that can prevent infection and kill bacteria, but I can’t help but wonder if these people were just trying to keep others away with the smell.

  1. Bald’s Eye Salve

Bald’s Eye Salve is a mix of garlic, onion or leek, wine, bovine bile, and brass that was used to treat eye infections.

Studies confirm the recipe - first published in Bald’s Leechbook more than 1,000 years ago - is an effective treatment for various eye infections including stye and MRSA.

  1. Honey

For thousands of years, people throughout the world have used honey to treat burns and other wounds.

Honey is effective for several reasons:

  • It protects the wounded area from the air, minimizing pain
  • It helps rehydrate the skin
  • It has natural antibiotic properties that prevent infection
  • It reduces inflammation and scarring
  • It minimizes the nasty smell associated with wound healing
  1. Urine Sample

One of the few things Hippocrates got right was that he examined a patient’s urine to detect illness. To this day, doctors still look for blood and other discoloration in urine to detect kidney disease and other issues.

  1. Maggot Therapy

Believed to have originated during the Renaissance, maggot therapy involves using live maggots to clean wounds before stitching.

This method actually works because maggots eat dead and infected tissue without harming healthy tissue. Maggots also produce secretions that help the human immune system fight pathogens.

Maggot therapy, used by soldiers in WWI and WWII who lacked access to basic first aid supplies, was approved by the FDA in 2004.

Do you use natural remedies at home? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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