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Author Topic: Gout!  (Read 5775 times)

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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Gout!
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2011, 10:19:26 am »
I take something--not the product you're thinking of--which works OK most of the time; I also avoid pork, which seems to be a trigger food.  (Oddly enough, if I drink red wine with pork, not so much; if I drink white wine or no wine, it does.)

Offline Evie

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Re: Gout!
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2011, 09:51:46 am »
The original graphics file is a bit large for me to post here, but here's a lovely little artistic depiction from the late 1700s of what might be causing your gout.... 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_gout_james_gillray.jpg

If you need an exorcist, I'll let Duncan and Denis know.   :D
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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Gout!
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2011, 12:51:43 pm »
That is a very good description of how it feels.

And back then, there were no effective treatment.  The only anti-inflammatory they had was willowbark tea, and salycilates actually make gout WORSE.  The only other effective painkiller was laudanum, and if you took enough to help, you'd be in a stupor (and addicted, but that's another issue.)

Offline Evie

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Re: Gout!
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2011, 01:54:28 pm »
Oh, they had a surprising number of painkillers in medieval Europe, opiates for one, and henbane being another, IIRC.  Annie posted an article a while back in her "Useful/Interesting Links" post about an archeological dig at the site of a medieval hospital turning up evidence of all sorts of interesting meds in use quite early on...hang on...where's that link again?

Found it!  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/prozac-opium-and-myrrh-the-ancient-arts-of-anaesthesia-are-unlocked-1238659.html

Granted, this hospital appears to have been quite "state of the art" for that time period, and also the herbal meds of the time might not have been as effective as our modern ones--it would be harder to get the same concentrations of the active ingredients and create uniform dosages, I would imagine--and there was a lot of "old wives' tales" and quackery out there, but a surprising amount of medieval medicine had actual benefit, like the willowbark tea you cited earlier.  In my current story-in-progress, my infirmarian's pharmacopoeia is based quite heavily on articles such as this one and also another one I found online in which a modern MD discusses why certain herbal medicines may have been effective due to having natural antibacterial / antifungal properties.  (Don't have that link handy at the moment, but I'll try to remember to post it here later if you're interested.)
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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Gout!
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2011, 12:57:28 pm »
Henbane is poisonous, and opiates (I did mention Laudanum) make one sleepy and stupid and unable to function (for one thing) and are highly addictive for another.  Until the development of modern NSAIDS, there was no effective treatment for gout.

That being said, it is true that many of the midaeval remedies and/or folk remedies were effective.  For example, many a village wisewoman would rub an infected wound with moldy bread; any proper doctor or nurse who heard of that would say, "Oh, how insanitary."  But, in fact, bread-mold is the natural source of pennicillen.  Spiderwebs to stop bleeding.  Washing out deep cuts and puncture wounds with vinegar.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2011, 01:03:22 pm by Elkhound »

Offline Evie

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Re: Gout!
« Reply #20 on: August 14, 2011, 03:47:24 pm »
Oh yes, henbane is indeed poisonous, as were many other herbs used in medieval medicine, which is why the dosages had to be very carefully monitored.  But poisonous herbs are still a source of medication even today.  For instance, digitalis is derived from foxglove, which was prescribed for heart conditions in the same way that digitalis is prescribed now, but either will absolutely kill you if not taken exactly as prescribed by a physician who knows what he or she is doing!  In the case of henbane, that's the source (or at least one source) of scopolamine, also known as "twilight sleep," which was used as an anesthetic as recently as the 1960s, and possibly later; My mother was given scopolamine when she was in labor with me!  That said, it would definitely be too extreme a prescription for gout, as would opiates.  They'd be saved for more extreme need, such  as pain relief during an amputation.  I think if I lived in the 1100s and had a choice between a henbane and opium cocktail before amputation or just going into the surgery with my teeth clenched on a rag, suddenly those drugs would be looking mighty good....  ;D

I was never recommending their use for gout, just bringing them up to show that medievals had far stronger medicinals available for pain relief than just willowbark tea and the like.  A lot of people have the misconception that anyone born before the 1800s or thereabouts simply had to make do with getting passing out drunk before major surgery if they wanted pain relief, and had nothing stronger than willowbark tea to combat the pain afterwards during the recovery period, but that wasn't the case, at least not in the Middle Ages.   (Whether or not some of the medicinal lore was forgotten between them and the 1900s, I don't really know; that's a wide span of history that I'm much less familiar with, even though I find medical history pretty fascinating.)   Not saying that I think you thought that there weren't more effective painkillers, but just that it's a popular myth that a great many people buy into, along with the myth about medieval people never bathing, or the one about them using so many spices to cover up the taste of rotting meat.  I like to dispel those sorts of myths when I can by showing the contradicting evidence, and your mention of painkillers just happened to give me an opening to bring up the topic.

Speaking of spiderwebs for bleeding, my grandmother mentioned that one to me, though I never saw her use it.  There was one time I had a gash on one ankle and couldn't get the bleeding to stop right away.  I kept trying to dab the trickle away and put pressure on it for it to stop, but when I'd lift the gauze off, it would start bleeding again.  What she ended up using to staunch the flow was sugar.  She sprinkled the cut and just left it on for 15 or 20 minutes before brushing it off, leaving a clean, raw wound that we just slapped gauze and a bandage on afterwards.  (Trying to remember if we rinsed the wound off first or not, but it happened so long ago I can't remember anymore.)  I don't think she used vinegar on cuts, but I do recall that she kept her blocks of hard cheddar wrapped in a clean cloth that had been dampened in white vinegar and then wrung out.  She said it would help preserve them from mold, and I don't recall her ever having cheese go bad in the refrigerator.  Then again, with me in the house, I doubt the cheddar ever stayed in the fridge long enough to go bad....   :D  And I think she used vinegar to disinfect her countertops every once in a while, if she was out of her regular cleaning products and didn't want to have to make a trip into town right away to buy more.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Alkari

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Re: Gout!
« Reply #21 on: August 14, 2011, 05:03:23 pm »
Hmmm, the problem with spiderwebs is that some spiders can be aggressive and object to you taking them!   OK in countries without a lot of poisonous spiders, but don't think I will try that cure out here, thanks  :D

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Gout!
« Reply #22 on: August 14, 2011, 11:07:08 pm »
=.  I think if I lived in the 1100s and had a choice between a henbane and opium cocktail before amputation or just going into the surgery with my teeth clenched on a rag, suddenly those drugs would be looking mighty good....  ;D

The procedure for an amputation, from what I read, was to get the biggest, fattest, heaviest servants in the house to sit on the patient during the operation.

Offline Alkari

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Re: Gout!
« Reply #23 on: August 15, 2011, 12:07:58 am »
Alcohol worked very well too.   I always remember a doctor friend telling us of an old street 'wino' brought into ER many years ago with a very nasty broken leg.  The old boy was totally drunk and reeking with cheap spirits, and there was no way that anyone could give him an anaesthetic!!  It wouldn't have been safe for a couple of days.   Not to worry - they just put him on a bed, got to work, and on the few occasions he groggily raised his head and asked what they were doing, someone just gently pushed him back down and told him to go back to sleep!   Apparently he woke up next day with a very bad hangover, but he didn't remember a thing about the 2 hours it took to put his leg back together  :D

 


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