Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Real Men of Genius - Civil War Medicine Edition #3

Here is another outlandish medical-related patent from the Civil War years...See my previous posts for Editions #1 and #2. Enjoy!

Having a bit of an upper respiratory problem? Have you considered wolf's lung? I don't mean a plant (like lungwort), I mean an ACTUAL lung of an ACTUAL wolf! That was the secret ingredient in Jacob Leich's "Improved Medical Compound" (for consumption), United States Patent #44,323 granted on September 20, 1864!

Full patent text is here and below...and read more below about "wolf's lung"!

Patent No. 44,323
September 20, 1864


Be it known that I, Jacob Leich, of Brooklyn, in the county of Kings and State of New York, have invented a new and Improved Medical Compound; and I do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description thereof, which will enable others skilled in the art to fully understand and use the same.

The object of this invention is a compound which, by several years practice, has been found to be a sure remedy for consumption, to be used by persons of both sexes as well as grown persons.

The compound is made of the following ingredients: Herba pulmonaria arboris, (tree lungwort) one ounce, (for which may be substituted Herba hepatica, lungwort;) Pulmo ulbus, (the lung of a fox,) one ounce; Radix helenii, (root of elecampane,) one ounce; Radix zingiberis, (ginger,) one ounce; Semen foeniculi, (fennel seed,) one ounce; Semen anisi, (anise-seed,) one ounce; Saccharum album, (white sugar,) six ounces.

The lung of a fox is cut up in slices and roasted with all the blood and juice at a slow fire until it is dry enough to be pulverized. The plants are all dried, either in the open air or by artificial heat, and then pulverized and well mixed with each other and with the pulverized lung, in about the proportion above stated. The treelungwort or Herba pulmonaria arboris is used more particularly for male patients, and when the composition is to be used for females I substitute for it the plain lungwort or Herba hepatica. After the ingredients have been well mixed I make a decoction of more or less strength, according to the state of the disease and order the patient to take it three or more times a day in suitable quantities.

The beneficial effect of this compound is felt very soon, and I have succeeded in curing consumption in such cases where all hope had been given up.

As strange as it may seem (and it does seem strange, doesn't it?!), Mr. Leich was on well-tread ground putting "lung of fox" in his decoction as it had been a tradition in folk medicine and materia medica for centuries to cure asthma and other respiratory diseases!

For example, in a 1901 article in The Practitioner, one physician - writing on "Organo-Therapy in the Middle Ages" - states:

In his Ars Curandi Parva, published in 1566, Jerome Cardan, in the chapter Pro difficultate spirandi, gives his own experience of fox's lung as a remedy for pulmonary complaints: —

"Another remedy whereof I have made trial on myself twice and which I found very efficacious when, in 1531, I suffered from difficulty of breathing and violent cough, is the lung of a fox. The organ is taken out of the animal, washed in wine as soon as it is removed, dried in an oven, and when it is dried one takes of it 3 drachms crushed fine in the yolk of an egg. The medicine is taken two or three times. One may also eat the lungs of animals and find good of it, as I have convinced myself. I even believe that if someone were to use this remedy for a long time he would feel remarkably better, since every corresponding organ is strengthened by similar organs."

So, there you have it! I'm not sure it's for me.


Anonymous said...

This makes me think of Chinese medicine. Wouldn't try lung's lung ever.


Jim Schmidt said...

Carol - Thanks for the comment! Indeed, there are places on the planet where folk/patent remedies are still very much alive, and that is especially China and parts of Africa.

All My Best,


Dick Stanley said...

Better, maybe, than having your blood let, or suffering blisters from cupping.

B. Forbush said...

Sooo, Does it really work ?