Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

When the Disease Beats the Cure, Part II

January 11th, 2010 · No Comments


Medical history’s dustbin is full of well-meaning treatments that were basically guaranteed to increase a patient’s misery. Several months back, for example, we wrote about the use of Torpillage to treat victims of shell shock. Now, via the journals of the great Irish explorer John Palliser, comes news of a 19th-century Native American rabies remedy that strikes us as exceedingly tough to take:

I saw great numbers of the case wolf (mischechogonis or togonie) prowling about. This is the wolf proper to the partially wooded country, and is about twice the size of a fox, with a tail shaped likethe brush of that animal. The real thick-wood wolf is grey or black, and very much larger. In spring, Hardesty tells me, the latter are often very dangerous, as they go mad, and then do not scruple to attack any one they meet with. Hydrophobia results from their bite, and the Indian cure for it is to sew the patient up in an old buffalo robe and to fling him on a large fire until it is well singed, when he is considered done. I should think that if the person survived this, it must produce violent diaphoresis, which with the fright, may produce a salutary effect on the disease.

We somehow doubt those old buffalo robes were lined with the conqueror of time’s dark captains.

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