Seventeenth-Century Preparation H

by Lili Loofbourow

Dear Philiatros,
How can I soothe my hemorrhoids, which are plaguing both my houses?

Philiatros: I don’t know what that means in this context, but I am so glad you asked, spider-love. The good news is, you have options. Not knowing which ingredients you have available, I’m offering you the latest in our piles-expulsion technology. You can find these and other all-natural remedies in my book.*

Snails! Take mullet leaves and gilt grease, and stamp them with the oil of Garden-snails, and so make a salve of it, and anoint the place grieved.

Sheep poo.Take herb grace and sheep’s dung, being new, and boil it with Guilt’s grease, and so strain it, and put it up in a box.

Cold snot. Take the blowing of ones nose, and put it on a cloth, and lay to the place.

Cold cream! Take cold cream, and anoint them, and take the powder of fine ginger, and strow upon it.

Hot snot. Take the blowing of one’s nose, and the soot of a brass pot, and lay it to it, and if they come too low down (Ed. Note: EEP), sit upon a close stool with Frankincense, on a chafing dish of coals, after you have been at the stool.

Hoofing it. By Mrs. Minne. Take the flocks of Scarlet, the hoof of a horse, and frankincense, put them all in a chafing dish of coals, and sit over it, and take the heat. (TAKE IT.)

Green sauce. By Mr. Jacob. Take half an handful of elder buds, as much of chamomile, as much of wild mallows, as much of mullet leaves, and boil them in a pot of strong ale. When they be tender, take half of them out and crush out the ale of them and grind them in a mortar, as you do green sauce, very fine, with a quarter of a pint of Sallet oil, and so make it as thick as salve, and put it in a box, and when need requires, spread it on a cloth, and lay it on the piles, and if it be in the fundament pricking, you must take the rest of the herbs and ale, seething hot, and sit over it in a close stool, after you have beene at the stool, and wet a piece of a sponge in it, and sit close upon it.

Some like it hot. Take mastic and burn it upon a chafing dish of coals and sit over it, after you have been at the privy.

Poultice of Mashed Boiling Snail. Take Germander, two or three garden snails roasted and pilled, and so bruise the snails and Germander together, and lay them too, as hot as you can suffer.

Onions. Take an onion cored, and put a little Saffron into it, and roast it in a paper, and when it is roasted, pill it, and lay it to the piles.

Fried longwort. By Mrs. Downing. Take Longwort, otherwise called lovage, chop it very small and beat it, boil it in fresh butter a good half hour or more, then strain it in a close box as you need it, take lint and spread some on it and lay it to.

Tar and treacle! By Mrs. Scudamore (aliàs Scidmer). Take a quantity of unwrought tar, and a quantity of treacle, as much of the one as of the other, mingle them together, then take a little black, as broad as the sore place is, and lay the tar and the treacle upon it in manner of a plaister, and so lay it to the fore. (OWOWOW)

Take a handful of parsley with the roots, stamp it well, and put to it Oil Olive, let it stand a day; then strain the juice from the dross and anoint the grief against the fire, and keep him warm. (ANOINT THE GRIEF. KEEP “HIM” WARM.)

To stanch the bleeding of the Piles.
Take and drink the juice of Millefollie, for that is proved. Also put to the powder of burned garlic, and the evils shall die also to destroy them take oil of roses and Frankincense and honey, and make ointment of these, and put it with thy finger into the Fundament. If it be a friend thou wouldst help in haste, add Myrrh thereto (Frankincense and myrrh, reunited and it feels so good), and after anoint thy Fundament therewith, and for the going out of the Evils, boil Frankincense and water, and wash the Evils therewith, and let thy breath go up into thy Fundament, and he shall be whole.


For the pain of the Emrods.
Make an ointment of oil of Roses washed in Violet water, fresh butter, oil of linseed, the yolk of an egg, and a little wax. Nothing is better to assuage the pain, than the perfume of scrapings of Ivory.

To stop the Emrods.
Drink a dram of the powder of red coral with plantain water, Porret leaves sod and laid to the place, assuageth the swelling and pains: the roots and leaves of little Celendine boiled (DON’T BOIL LITTLE CELENDINE!), doth heal the Emrods, Piles, Cankers, Warts or hard swellings coming of cold.

Just between you and me, steer clear of Scudamore. And if you need some breath in your fundament, call.

Philiatros, Fundament Whisperer and Emrod Exorcist.
(“I Turn Your Gall to Manna!”)

* Taken from Philiatros’ Nature Unbowelled (also written about by Shakespeare’s England, which came across this same sequence a year before I did, and which is awesome). Spelling and punctuation have been modernized.

Previously: The 17th-Century Breastoration: A Time Before Bras.

Lili Loofbourow writes about 17th-century ideas of reading and digestion, cognitive science, Chile, and femscularity. She blogs for Ms. Magazine and as Millicent over at Millicent and Carla Fran.