Joseph P. Byrne, Daily Life During the Black Death
(Westport: Greenwood Press, 2006), p. 41, with note on p. 62:
John of Gaddesden wrote The English Rose in
Latin about 1314, and nearly two centuries later (1491) it became the first
printed medical text by an English author. John wrote that
during pestilence everyone over seven should be made to vomit daily from
an empty stomach, and twice a week, or more if necessary; he should lie well
wrapped up in a warm bed and drink warm ale with ginger so that he sweats
copiously ... And as soon as he feels an itch or prickling in his flesh he must use
a goblet or cupping horn to let blood and draw down the blood from the heart.
Aiding evacuation was the heart of the apothecary's art: laxatives, purgatives, diuretics, and suppositories were literally his stock in trade. And
it could be a stinky trade at that. In his fictional dialogue on plague time
William Bullein has his greedy apothecary lie to keep a visitor away from
his rich patient's house: "[H]e hath taken a purgation, which has cast such
an air abroad that I was not able to abide in the chamber. I had forgotten
my perfumes to make all well against your coming."5
5. Maria Kelly, The Great Dying (Stroud, Gloucs., England: Tempus, 2003),
pp. 115–16; William Bullein, A dialogue against the fever pestilence (Millwood, NY:
Kraus Reprint, 1987), p. 20.
I might be willing to try the ale with ginger.