Intestinal Fortitude: Adventures in Ancient Medical Treatments


Galen, Method of Medicine 14: 10, 856

“The man was forty years old, as you know. While he was believed to be colic, he not only failed to profit from fomentations, heat treatments, ointments, and enemas—those kinds of things which doctors typically apply—but his condition was exacerbated by most of them. When rue-oil was applied rectally, he got worse; and he was worse still after the application of castor oil. When honey which had been prepared with pepper was inserted, he felt the worst find of pain. And he also suffered when he took the juice of fenugreek finished with honey.* For these reasons, I surmised that the biting fluids had worked themselves into the intestinal walls to begin with and that these were causing infection along with the treatments that had been inserted through his rectum, with the additional complication of the substances that had been ingested orally.

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