Medicine 200 Years Ago

An article in the 1914-15 Alma Mater, the Aberdeen University Magazine describes the unusual treatment for the King’s Evil. The King’s Evil or scrofula was tuberculous cervical lymphadenitis said to be cured by the touch of a monarch. Apart from swelling there would not be many symptoms but the following prescription was made up for use if there was no king nearby.

Take of burnt sea-spunge three ounces, bone of the cuttle-fish, jawbone of a pike, prepared crab’s eyes, pepper, of each an ounce. Dose, half to one dram. The powder of lizards with honey is also of excellent use.

As Alma Mater says it leaves one with a profound respect for the constitutions of the patients of 1712. For centuries many herbs, barks or crushed leaves were used for symptoms that no one could explain.