‘Gladiator Blood’ and other Medicine’ Made from Human Corpses

An Adam’s apple a day keeps the doctor away? History is complete of bizarre medical remedies, but handful of are as gruesome as the field of corpse medicine. A lot of doctors, from ancient times to contemporary, prescribed concoctions made of human organs, salves of human fat, and the ground-up remains of embalmed corpses to treat a host of ailments and promote good health. Place aside your lunch and read all about the different cannibalistic cures sent down the throats or slathered over the skin of the sick and dying.

Modern medicine utilizes corpse tissue to help the living in addition to organ transplants from brain dead donors, cadaver skin is used a stopgap for burn victims just before they can get grafts of their own skin and cadaver bone can be employed in grafts as well. And it is no surprise that the precursor experiments to contemporary blood transfusion involved the consumption and transfusion of cadaverous blood. But from ancient times to modern, several men and women, which includes well-respected physicians, have believed that human tissue has special essential qualities that could be transferred from the dead to the living. Seventeenth-century Europe in specific is filled with accounts of corpse medicine, with physicians and chemists devote their energies to developing tinctures of human flesh and bone. The items listed below are not elements of ritualistic or symbolic cannibalism seen in some cultures, but professed medicines that prominent physicians and medical historians recorded as scientific cures:

Mummy Powder: From the 12th through the 17th century, any European apothecary worth his smelling salts kept a supply of mummy powder on hand. Mummy was the health food of the Middle Ages, guaranteed to remedy every little thing from headaches to stomach ulcers, and plasters made from mummy powder had been usually slathered over tumors. Humans weren’t the only beings alleged to benefit from mummy sick hawks had been believed to benefit from their own grade of mummy powder. The demand for mummified far outweighed the supply one couldn’t just walk up to a pyramid-shaped rock and commence digging. One could, however, dig up some dead and desiccated bodies, grind them down, and sell them as “mummy powder.” It really is doubtful anybody ever noticed the difference.

What is especially fascinating about the mummy powder remedy is that the complete fad may well have arisen from a misunderstanding. Naturally occurring bitumen from the Dead Sea was a generally prescribed medication in ancient times for all sorts of ailments: cataracts, leprosy, gout, dysentery, clotted blood, shortness of breath, rheumatoid arthritis. The Persian word for wax, mumia, was usually used to describe bitumen, and it’s from that same word that we derive our word “mummy.” Mumia also refers to another substance (which was not bitumen) that was used in the embalming of mummies. When apothecaries had been not in a position to obtain naturally occurring bitumen (mumia, they at times turned to this false bitumen (also mumia), which they supposedly obtained from ground-up mummies. Eventually standard wisdom held that it was the mummy itself, not the substance utilised in its embalming, that contained the medicinal qualities. In medical treatises, the words “mumia” and “mummy,” became synonymous.

Mellified Man: Take one male volunteer aged 70 or 80, and bathe him and feed him with absolutely nothing but honey. Upon his death (normally inside a month), seal him in a coffin filled with honey. Age for 100 years, then break the seals. The recipe for mellified man, a confection could allegedly treat broken and wounded limbs, appears in Chinese naturalist Li Shih-chen’s compendium, Chinese Materia Medica, published in 1597. Despite the fact that Li heard rumors of mellified guys becoming ready in Arabia, he was not able to confirm the veracity of these reports, which is a shame since mellified man sounds like a much a lot more palatable treat than plain old mummy powder.

The King’s Drops: This concoction, made from essence of powdered human skull, was made well-known thanks to a royal endorsement. Charles II of England, who became very interested in chemistry during his exile in France, bought the rights to the remedy for £6,000 from Jonathan Goddard, a famous surgeon and professor at London’s Gresham College. Formerly “Goddard’s Drops,” this panacea became known as the “King’s Drops,” and Charles II manufactured and sold it himself. While skull was a key ingredient in this draught supposed to promote health and vigor, the presence of opium most likely helped its heady effects along.


Sources and more information:

• A spoonful of sugar with that? Inside the disgusting field of ‘corpse medicine’ that recommends dead man’s sweat, raw liver and human fat (mixed with blood, marrow and beer) to cure all ills

Share Doctors have long known that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. But in ‘corpse medicine’ – the idea of treating ills by swallowing body parts and fluids – a little sweetener wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference. A list of weird and but not very wonderful cannibalistic concoctions reveals treatments made of human organs,…

• ‘Gladiator Blood’ and other Medicine’ Made from Human Corpses

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