Bitter as Gall or Sickly Sweet? The Taste of Medicine in Early Modern England

Adriaen Brower’s The Bitter Potion (1640) depicts a man’s reaction to the taste of a medicine – his face is contorted in an expression of deep revulsion (Figure 1). The image seems to confirm Roy Porter’s generalisation that ‘pre-modern medicine tasted foul’.[1] Contemporary medical recipes and patients’ memoirs tell a more complicated story, however. While some … Continue reading Bitter as Gall or Sickly Sweet? The Taste of Medicine in Early Modern England

Burnt Toast, Medicine and Identity in (Early Modern?) England

by Giovanni Pozzetti Last Monday the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the UK launched the ‘go for gold’ campaign to promote awareness in the kitchen when cooking foods at high temperatures. Results of a study conducted on mice showed how foods with a high content of acrylamide can be related to cancer. Acrylamide is a … Continue reading Burnt Toast, Medicine and Identity in (Early Modern?) England

From the dry sands of Egypt… Greek medicine labels on papyrus

By Isabella Bonati Amongst the many objects depicted in the “unswept floor” mosaic by Heraclitus (II cent. CE) there is a drug container (unguentarium) with a narrow, probably folded, papyrus tag suspended from its neck. This tag likely offered the identification of the content, possibly an ointment or some aromata, stored into the unguentarium. This … Continue reading From the dry sands of Egypt… Greek medicine labels on papyrus

Ancientbiotics: Medieval Medicines for Modern Infections

By Erin Connelly In 2015, Youyou Tu jointly won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the development of a new therapy (Artemisinin) to treat Malaria, a disease which has been on the rise since the 1960s. Significantly, the antimalarial component was successfully extracted from the plant Artemisia annua only after consulting the instructions … Continue reading Ancientbiotics: Medieval Medicines for Modern Infections