William Sermon’s remedies from 1673

A paperback version is available here but an ancient copy found during a house clearance in Derbyshire is to be auctioned reports the Daily Mail.

Sermon 1673 (via Daily Mail -Caters News Agency)

Sermon 1673 (via Daily Mail -Caters News Agency)

It was written in 1673 by Royal Physician, William Sermon, who was a physician of Charles II. ….. 

Dr Sermon, who first gained medical experience in the Army and went on to become a physician for King Charles II, died six years after his book was published at the age of 50.

He was described by 17th century historian Anthony Wood as ‘that forward, vain and conceited person.’

Dr Sermon was apparently a great believer in alcohol to combat illness.
For ‘pain in the head through cold’, he suggested: ‘Abstain from taking milk which is cool in operation and drink thin wine or such liquors.’

And for a patient suffering from toothache, Dr Sermon writes: ‘To make rotten teeth sound, take the juice of water cresses and white wine in equal measure, mix them together and rub the teeth and gums therewith.’ 

He adds that ‘the ashes of tobacco is of excellent use to cleanse the teeth and to make them white’.

sermon 1673 paperback

sermon 1673 paperback

A Friend to the Sick, Or, the Honest Englishman’s Preservation Shewing the Causes, Symptoms, and Cures of the Most Occult and Dangerous Diseases Which affect the body of Man (1673)

by William Sermon

ISBN-13: 9781240842629
Publisher: EEBO Editions, ProQuest
Publication date: 1/28/2011

Some of Sermon’s remedies might not pass muster today:

  • For the sickness bug… ‘Taking young swallows, burn them in their feathers, altogether in a new earthenware pot, covered very close, add thereto as much castor and beat them well together and put in to a glass vessel and let it stand three days after which distill it in a glass for patient to take.’
  • For earache… ‘Take a loaf made with one part of caraway seeds, and cut it through the middle and apply it to the ears.’
  • For  toothache… ‘Take the juice of water cresses and white wine in equal measure, mix them together and rub the teeth and gums therewith.’ 
  • To whiten teeth… ‘The ashes of tobacco is of excellent use to cleanse the teeth and to make them white’.’
  • For a headache… ‘Abstain from taking milk which is cool in operation and drink thin wine or such liquors.’

The book will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers in Derby on October 24 and is expected to sell for about £500.

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