Medical history

Doctrine of signatures

The doctrine of signatures, originally advocated by the Roman naturalist and natural philosopher Pliny, is the observation that the form of a medicinal plant in some way resembles the organ or disease it can be used to treat, an idea that became common during the medieval period.

King’s Evil

The King’s Evil was the name given in medieval times to scrofula, a swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck caused by tuberculosis.


Organotherapy is a technique that makes use of extracts derived from animal or human tissues to treat medical conditions.


Those who exhumed the bodies of the recently deceased during the 18th and 19th centuries to provide cadavers to anatomists for their research.


An imaginary kind of afterbirth in the form of an “evil-looking little animal” especially attributed to Dutch women.

The Sleeping Girl of Turville

A girl who, her mother claimed, fell into a deep sleep from which she could not be roused for nine years.

Tobacco smoke enema

The tobacco smoke enema, an insufflation of tobacco smoke into the rectum by enema, was a medical treatment employed by European physicians for a range of ailments