The Black Death hit Europe hard in the mid-14th century, and drove people to find cures for the Black Death. Unfortunately, there was little knowledge about the epidemic and people came up with different theories about what caused the plague. All of those theories were wrong but made medieval Europeans to try bizarre and desperate cures. Here's are some of the most surprising medieval cures for the Black Death.
Top 10 Surprising Cures for Black Death
Turn to Churches
Things were different during the 14th century with people scurrying to the priest for help, and it was the same for the Black Death. It was thought that the plague was from God to punish people for some earthly transgression. What priests would have suggested was quite obvious. They would suggest the sufferers to seek forgiveness for their sins, organize religious processions, and pray. The results were awful and the death toll kept increasing, which confirmed that the Church was not the answer.
Aromatherapy was among the cures for the Black Death that didn't prove effective back then and the method is still in use, but is equally ineffective. People started carrying sweet smelling flowers and even packets of herbs to protect them from the foul smell in the winds. Although ineffective, since then the French pomander came to vogue among the upper class.
Blame the Air
Some medieval medical men believed that bad air was responsible for the plague. It was a bad guess, but their bizarre costumes designed to protect them from contaminated atmosphere seemed to offer some protection from the plague as well. Doctors started wearing an enveloping gown and a mask with a beak-like nosepiece. The beak-like nose was actually a bag filled with sweet-smelling flowers and herbs. This mask protected them from the airborne pneumonic form of the plague, but it didn't prove effective against the bubonic form, caused mainly by the bite of an infected flea.
Eat Rotten Treacle
Treacle, which is essentially a by-product of some sugar productions, was also a popular treatment option for Black Death in the 14th century. It is said that for this remedy to work, the key point was to get at least 10-year-old treacle. It did make some sense though because many potentially yeast types that can fight against this disease, like molds and other cultures, could survive in the syrup.
Take Sewers as Shelter
People soon discovered that the Black Death has something to do with the air quality, so they started doing the unexpected, like paying visits to the sewers and even began living in stinky sewers. It didn't help of course, and many people because of the nasty circumstances actually died of many other diseases as well.
Rub Your Wounds with a Live Chicken
It seems that the Middle Ages had so many crazy people coming up with insane ways to treat different problems. The Vicary Method was yet another bizarre way used to treat the plague. An English doctor named Thomas Vicary invented the cure and suggested that the patient would find relief if they'd shave a hen's butt and wrap it (butt side down) around their swollen lymph nodes, hoping the disease could be drained out of the human body into the chicken. The catch was that the hen had to be alive! They'd wash the chicken and repeat the process daily until one of them, the patient or the chicken, became healthy or the patient became dead. However, they were unaware that this method actually made them the hosts of many parasites that originally infested in chicken.
Resort to Bloodletting
When the Black Death hit Europe, bloodletting was already quite popular in the region. People used to rely on this treatment to cure all health conditions from goiter to gout. But it was difficult for many people to afford the leeches, so lots of them resort to the old age method of bloodletting that would involve using a blade to make an incision in the skin. The sanitation levels were not enough then, so this actually left many people dealing with gruesome infections.
Bath in Urine
One of many weird cures for the Black Death was to give patient a "urine bath". A patient had to bathe in urine many times per day to alleviate the symptoms. Some even thought drinking a glass of urine would be more beneficial. The only requirement was to collect the urine of a non-infected person. It didn't prove effective with the plague, but urine is still considered a treatment for some health issues from multiple sclerosis to acne.
Apply Human Poo and Flower Roots
Another rather disgusting cure was to cut open the sores and apply a paste made from a mixture of flower roots, tree resins and poo. With treatments like these, it is hard to confirm if the high death toll was only due to the plague. Such remedies could easily kill the weak-stomached. What do you think?
One of the most surprisingly irrational Black Death remedies was to kill Jews. The people were of the view that the plague was a Jewish conspiracy to get rid of Christians. The Count of Savoy tortured several Jews and made them confess to the plot. This made people in Switzerland and other parts of Europe to burn thousands of Jews. The Church later tried to stop the Jewish persecution, but it couldn't prove beneficial. Still, it didn't prove to be an effective remedy for obvious reasons.
Other Bizarre Cures for the Black Death
● Eating ground emeralds: It could be mixed in water or foods, or just swallowed alone. The taste resembled that of glass but the ineffective recipe coincides with the luxury meals of the rich.
● Other odd cures were to drink mercury or arsenic, avoid thinking about death, having sad mood, eating meat or fig, do not exercise, and have sex etc.