Anyone who has read "The Teutonic Knights" by Henryk Sienkiewicz at least once will not forget the history of Maciek from Bogdaniec. When the old knight was treacherously shot with a crossbow, when he tried to pull out the bolt, the barb from him broke off and got stuck in his life. The unfortunate man was already getting ready to die, but Father Cybek, the royal court physician, told him to try bear fat, because if you get fat in a man, you can have a splinter that spins out. In view of the above, Zbyszko, as a good nephew, immediately after returning home, he ordered the poor bear to buy medicine for his uncle. After drinking a few quarts of the fat, the barb actually fell out, and Maćko regained his humor so much that for breakfast he ate a pot of beer (four liters), a half-loaf of bread and twenty eggs.
The use of bear fat described here is, of course, a literary fiction, a product of the fertile pen of our great Nobel Prize winner, who thus found the perfect excuse to include in the novel a captivating fight with a bear. Historical records show, however, that medieval medicine used various parts of animals as ingredients in the preparation of medicinal potions, decoctions and elixirs. The description of some ingredients can make even relatively resistant people nauseous, for the sake of historical truth it is worth recalling some basic animal medicines, without which our ancestors simply could not do.
The mine of knowledge on this subject is the book published in 1675 by Jakub Kazimierz Haur, entitled "Storehouse or treasury of the excellent secrets of the landowners' economy." It discusses various hunting techniques, species of game animals and the "benefits" that flow from them. Among these "benefits" there are numerous medicines for various diseases, often provided with a detailed method of their preparation.
In principle, any animal that was hunted could be used in medicine of that time. A deer occupied a prominent place. Eating its meat was supposed to protect from fever and relieve numerous diseases. Antlers were especially appreciated. The author recommended that, when pulverized, incense it in apartments, henhouses, in goose houses and in a barn where cattle reside differently, for the adventure of the venom - this reptile, because snakes, lizards, vipers and slowworms run away from this smell and smoke and not far from this place they retreat. Given that the smell of roasted keratin is actually unbearable, this method may have been effective. Apart from all reptiles, everything that was alive probably escaped from the buildings, including servants and bats. The roasted deer horn was also used to heal various diseases, as the stomach strengthens the stomach, relieves fever, and reduces fever in humans. In order to prepare the "horn" mixture, it had to be crushed in a mortar, sifted and mixed with rose vodka. In severe cases of diseases, decoctions made of antler tips were especially recommended. While the use of antlers for the above-mentioned purposes was not harmful to the deer (the animal voluntarily sheds its horns on time), the next medicine required killing the animal.
In the heart of the deer there is a pebble which they take to make powders for nausea and weakness. A valuable medicine was also vodka distilled from the deer heart. This drink was especially recommended for those suffering from heart disease and fever. Medicine recommended taking one spoonful at a time. To finish the subject of deer, it should be added that blood from doe was also used as an ointment for varicose veins. There is also a place for an elk in an old Polish medicine cabinet. It was advisable to eat his healthy and nourishing meat and to use a salmon hoof. The latter did not need to be taken. When a man was struck by an affection of some sort (i.e. a disease), it was enough to give him that hoof, hold and carry (...) with him. Belief in the healing power of this amulet must have been widespread, because there are records that indicate that craftsmen made jewelery from elk hooves, which were worn for healing purposes. Of course, only a simple, dark commoner could believe in the miraculous power of amulets. An educated, enlightened citizen followed the principles of science and reason in treating moose hooves. This medicine had to be powdered and taken in moderation, e.g. in the case of fever. It should also be added that it was most effective when the hunter managed to shoot the moose at the time when the starches with his leg stung. In fact, such a medicine could supposedly replace a unicorn's horn in an emergency, of course only if this ingredient was accidentally lacking. Miraculous healing agents were provided by the "imperatorial forest", that is, the bison. Haur wrote about it in the following words: Bison horns have great virtue and secret in them, great lords and of various conditions, people from mugs rolled (from these horns) of various drinks and alcoholic beverages, bind them in expensive metals, in which if there was poison, immediately he throws it out and pours it out. Bison fat was widely recommended for lubricating wounds, even those that are old and difficult to heal.
The famous bear from Sienkiewicz cannot be missing from the list of medicinal animals. This animal, a synonym of power and strength, provided medicines for numerous ailments. His bile was used for epilepsy and paralysis, and his brain was a deadly poison that was supposed to cause loss of mind. The famous fat was used, among others, by to fight dandruff and mycosis of the head, reportedly with a reliable effect. Well, if someone has hair problems: an ax for a belt, pitchforks on the back, "Teutonic Knights" under the arm and off ... to the zoo, but beware, the fat of the bears was supposed to dye their hair white so that it looked like it was covered with grey! And if someone manages to defeat a bear, do not forget to gouge out its eyes: worn on the left forearm, it will protect against fever, while the right eye, hung on the child's neck, will ensure him a good night's sleep and free him from nightmares. Smearing my forehead with fat was supposed to guarantee sharp reason and clarity of thought.
Many valuable ingredients were also provided by wild boar, its meat itself is healthy, useful and tastes good over other animals, digestible to the stomach with moderate use, clean blood makes and multiplies. It was also recommended to add wild juice to the food as healthy and nutritious. Vodka was also distilled from pork blood, which, mixed with herbs, was used to soothe the suffering of consumptions. Pork fat was an important remedy, whether it was applied externally to smeared sides or orally in liquor, with vinegar or wine.
Pork teeth, bruised and chewed, were a reliable remedy for colic and pressure on the sides and various parts of the body. You had to mix them with vodka seasoned with poppy seed and take them in moderation. Pork bile has also been applied externally as an ointment on any glands called goitre on the neck (thyroid disorders). Dried pork dung recommended for tuberculosis and other people with persistent cough was also valuable. They had to be mixed with any kind of drink and given to the sick to drink, and when those who spit blood and gasping too much, it is a proven remedy and relief. Today, in the era of the return of natural medicine, this ingredient, as relatively easy to obtain, may experience a triumphant return. For amateurs of treatment with similar agents, we can also recommend pork urine, which is crushed by the urine, removes and cleans the stone in the man. Continuing this "appetizing" topic, it is impossible to ignore the wide use of deer excrement. Well, her dung (...) to people who are cyclical, angry, often turbulent, are healthy and helpful, because these qualities are harmful and unhealthy to everyone. This remedy would be useful to many people and nowadays, unfortunately, the author does not specify how to take it. Dried deer faeces mixed in wine were also used in the case of jaundice.
With the addition of herbs, they soothed the symptoms of menstrual cramps in women, while smoked and grated with vinegar and honey, they were to heal all blemishes and scabs of the head. They were also used to prepare an ointment on pork fat, which brought relief from breaking bones and pain in joints and muscles. Many valuable medicines were also provided by the field cat, i.e. the common hare. Haur claimed that although he is dry by nature, he multiplies good blood, who often uses it for food; A roasted hare cleans the stomach and polishes it, also dry to digest, (...) helping spoiled and wounded intestines and decayed when they eat fresh meat. In addition to wholesale consumption, individual body parts of this animal were also used in treatment. And so the hare's head, burned to dust and grated with fresh butter, healed and healed all wounds and scabs, and his brain, roasted, was used to lubricate his hands in case of their tremors and to heal many diseases. It was also recommended to lubricate the gums of children in case of problems with tooth eruption. The soup made of hare meat, applied externally, was used to soothe the pains caused by gout, which, as you know, was a favourite disease of people from high society.
The so-called hare cheese (rennet). Taken from the stomach of a young animal and drunk with vinegar, it was treated as a panacea for effectively treating any disease and protecting against poison. The ointment made from it was also supposed to bring relief to nursing women in the event of stagnation in the breasts. Our ancestors' first aid kit was also filling up after fox hunting. The fat of this animal was used to lubricate weakened and cracked blood vessels, scabs, pustules and difficult-to-heal wounds, the spleen - to accelerate ulcers and swelling, blood - in the case of consumption and kidney stones, and dung - against scabs and roughness. A special oil was prepared from fox meat mixed with olive oil. Some of the fox's insides had healing properties, and the way of their preparation is so interesting that it is worth quoting it in full: Fox's lungs well rinsed and washed in wine, dried, finely grated into powder, which is seasoned with sugar, it is a very special and peculiar thing for healing the human body with ulcerated, rotting lungs: in consumption, in heavy stools, shortness of breath in the breasts to be taken frequently, with much useful experience, which to take as an improvement or a confection; then you have to beware of salty and sour food, and so everyone will have any effect on this ailment. In mountainous areas, chamois and marmots called beavers were used as a source of medicine. The meat of the goat is very healthy for food, it makes man fat, multiplies good blood, digestible and nourishing for the stomach, especially in consumption, and useful for weak people. Fat was used to heal wounds and ulcers, and to lubricate sick horses. Marmot fat, on the other hand, was of great help.
A mole was a very valuable medicinal animal: this animal was burned to ashes, and then mixed with honey, or killed with egg and white, spent leprosy and all kinds of human flesh and healed blemishes, even losing and destroying unsightly warts. Burnt mole powder was also used in the amount of quarters in beer or wine. He relieved pain, breaking bones and aches in joints. The author also states that his blood, when he smears his head with bald hair, covers and covers his head with hair, which is even more wonderful and beautiful. Apparently, the best mole for this purpose was captured on a May night. This recipe would probably be useful to more than one "bright" gentleman ... Well, you have plenty of moles, so gentlemen, on a dark May night ... It is worth telling persistent hunters that if someone caught and strangled a mole with his bare hand, apparently all the year will be free from all fever ... The hedgehog, in terms of healing properties, was not much inferior to moles. His liver, dried and ground into a powder, mixed with mead, was used in the case of nephritis, and dried or fresh meat was helpful in relieving ailments related to ascites. Well-brewed hedgehog meat was also recommended to lepers and people with pale skin. Hedgehog fat was used to lubricate children suffering from hernia.
The rabbit was also valuable. It had to be burned to dust and mixed with fresh butter. The ointment prepared in this way was used to lubricate the throat in case of inflammation or goiter, and the skin if it was covered with pustules. Fat was used to lubricate hardened veins, and the brain, baked in ashes, if someone was poisoned by himself because of carelessness or for some reason, too fresh, immediately, when it is given to him in milk or any drink, then it cannot harm.
The fame of all the species mentioned so far is nothing compared to the healing properties of a beaver, or rather of a certain part of its body: the costumes of its abo moszenka are needed in various human affections, winds stopped in man accelerate. The head will be strengthened, fainted strength will be strengthened. They drive away the poison inflicted on us by making us sneeze. They are rushing Białogłowice's monthly disease. They protect themselves from sudden death and from great illness. They measure time from too much sleep. They keep from dizziness. Shaking hands dismissed. They repair hearing in ears and pains in teeth mitigate. This changed outfit, muffled the wombs of white heads in various ways strengthens and leads to a good effect, holding and smelling under the nose, wearing under the armpits, with attachment, incense from underneath over burnt carbides, healthy, red, and helps a lot. Beaver skin was also used in medicine, and it was recommended to paralytic people and those suffering from gout. Fat was used in diseases of blood vessels.
The badger was also worth hunting. Skinned, burnt and powdered, it was a cure for consumption. It should be taken with summer beer. Dry and rubbed blood, also with beer, was a reliable remedy for leprosy. The same blood distilled into vodka was of great help to the infected (...) and from ants to protect and preserve. Badger fat was valued unevenly than pork fat, which was hotter and more effective for lubricating the crosses and kidneys, because all pain and gushing in the crosses considerably soothes and heals, even a kidney stone crumbles and destroys. An enema with the use of dissolved fat was also recommended, according to the knowledge of the time, it was an excellent treatment for kidney stones. Badger fat has also been used to lubricate bursting blood vessels and to heal hernia in both children and adults.
A lot of superstition and beliefs were associated with the formidable wolf. Silver-mounted wolf teeth were considered a reliable remedy for erupting teeth in babies by touching the gums or holding the mouth. Worn around the neck, they were also supposed to provide children with a healthy, restful sleep, just like the bear's eye. The dried and ground wolf's liver was an effective remedy for puffiness, and also helped consumptions and people with white skin. For pressure and colic, the best powder was made of dried and crushed wolf's insides. A dose of a quarter of a spoon mixed in any drink was recommended. The skin of the predator had a similar effect, but external. I had to put it in my life and wait until it warms up - the pain supposedly passed, as he took away with his hand. In the absence of skin, it was possible to use wolf dung. You had to wrap it in a handkerchief and use it as above. Wolf fat was effective in cracking joints and breaking bones. Vodka was distilled from wolf's blood recommended for blood-spitting eaters. However, the most interesting recipe was the so-called wolf oil. You had to cook the wolf meat until it came off the bones and formed a broth. This broth had to be strained through a clean cloth, mixed with olive oil and brewed until only the oil remained in the pot. This precious potion was of great help to people suffering from gout.
And something else for those who complain of persistent muscle cramps: it is good to eat a steamed owl or a baked partridges, another for 24 hours without food, then a significant relief and help will make the ailments. For the treatment to be effective, this tasty treatment should be repeated several times, always during the staircase of the month. Possible amateurs of owl treatment should, unfortunately, be reminded that now all species of these medicinal birds are under protection.
As a conclusion, it is worth adding that the belief in the healing power of various parts of the animal's body has not been forgotten. They are especially fond of the medical arts of the Far East. Deer panty, bear liver and bile, tiger testicles and rhinoceros horn continue to enjoy unflagging popularity there, and the high prices paid for these ingredients encourage poaching and contribute to the destruction of many endangered species.