Author Topic: Logic Behind Some Medieval Medicine  (Read 1453 times)

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Logic Behind Some Medieval Medicine
« on: March 17, 2007, 08:46:24 AM »
This is sort of a question for those who know a bit about history and/or medieval philosophy (or folk philosophy, for lack of a better term). I've have read about lots of strange "cures" over the years, sometimes even endorsed by doctors and educated individuals, and some of them I can't for the life of me figure out. For example, I remember reading not too long ago that Francis Bacon believed that you could cure warts by putting animal fat on the wart, and then letting the fat rot in the sunlight. This is by no means a rare type of thing, and I've heard much stranger ones. Now, the animal fat thing I can half understand... maybe they thought there was some type of chemical(s) that would be effective in removing the wart. But why in the world would it matter what you did after removing the fat from the wart? I mean, why would someone believe that putting the fat in the sun was an important part of being cured, but that if you threw the fat away you wouldn't be cured?

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Logic Behind Some Medieval Medicine
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2007, 10:36:01 AM »
Well I can see some elements of germ theory in Sir Francis' treatement. He obviously thought something was causing the wart which needed to be destroyed and in fact, this is correct. Warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, and the only way to permanently remove the wart is to remove the virus. The other element in his treatement which has some basis in fact is Ultraviolet (UV) Therapy. Many viruses can, in fact, be destroyed by exposure to UV light, however, skin exposure to sunlight also decreases the immune system, making infection easier. So if you remove the virus from the skin (say, by rubbiung it off with a piece of pork fat) and then expose it to sunlight, you can destroy it....
So, perhaps Sir Francis Bacon was on to something! :D
Another possibility is that Sir Francis Bacon had shares in a pig farm (it is a suspicious surname after all) and he was trying to increase pork sales by spreading this rumour about its curative properties..... :D
« Last Edit: March 17, 2007, 10:40:11 AM by ozgeorge »
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