many of our patients are on multiple medications, sometimes it feels like we spend all day popping pills down their gullets. this got nursemyra to thinking about “cure alls” and how much time could be saved if one medication took care of everything. as late as 1908 apothocaries recommended dried human bodies for aches and pains.
A mummy’s virtues were innumerable. It was thought to cure, among other things, epilepsy, abscesses, rashes, fractures, paralysis, migraine, throat diseases, coughs, palpitations, stomach ailments, nausea, ulcers, liver disorders, hæmorrhage, bruises, and poisoning – and it even protected against the plague.
A classic recipe, given by Oswald Croll’s Basilica chymica in the early 17th century, begins:
“Take the fresh corpse of a redhaired, uninjured, unblemished man, 24 years old and killed no more than one day before, preferably by hanging, breaking on the wheel or impaling… Leave it one day and one night in the light of the sun and the moon, then cut into strips. Sprinkle on a little powder of myrrh to prevent it from being too bitter. Steep in spirit of wine for several days. As the foulness of it causes an intolerable humidity in the stomach, it is a good idea to macerate the mummy with oil.
Nicolas Le Fevre gave a recipe for “mumiall balsam,” also using oil. First you make your basic mummy by cutting up the muscles of a “young lusty man’s body,” dipping them in spirit of wine, and hanging them in a dry place.
Paracelsus described techniques for creating both corporeal mummy (made from real flesh) and several types of “spiritual” mummy, derived from other sources
“spiritual” mummy was downright earthy and was derived from substances such as sweat and fæces. A lump of excrement was dried in the air away from sunlight, to draw forth spiritual “rays” which exerted a creative power equivalent to that of sperm
In a Persian recipe, a man is drowned at the age of 30 in a mixture of honey, drugs and herbs, after a short lifetime of being generously fed and looked after. The vessel is sealed for 150 years, and then the contents are dispensed as a cure for any illness.
now that 50 is the new 30 I can think of worse ways to go than drowning in honey and drugs after a lifetime of being generously fed and looked after