Honey, Mud, Maggots and Other Medical Marvels: Science Behind Folk Remedies and Old Wives' Tales
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Honey, Mud, Maggots and Other Medical Marvels: Science Behind Folk Remedies and Old Wives' Tales

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Eating clay, drinking urine, applying honey to deep wounds and mere plaster to crushed bones: these are all folk remedies for ailments, passed on through the generations and thoroughly discounted by modern science. It is too bad, write scientist-historian couple Robert and Michèle Root-Bernstein, who deplore the loss of proven methods developed without the blessing of the...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 9th 1999 by Macmillan (first published September 1st 1997)
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I enjoyed reading about the origins of many folk remedies, but the book is rather poorly written. Especially distracting were the cheesy puns and clichés at the end of each chapter. The extremely biased section on circumcision seemed rather out of place with the rest of the book.
I sent this book on to my friends Sofia. She thought the same thing I did. Good information, mediocre craft and what is with the militant advocacy chapter on circumcision?
I found this book fascinating.

I must admit, I usually pick up nonfiction books with a bit of trepidation. Some of them are so dry, I fall asleep reading the intro. This book I could not set down though. I was fascinated by all the squirm-worthy and nasty cures in this book and the medical science behind them.

Until I read this, I could never understand why bleeding and leeches was such a popular cure for so long. Now I see that it was used to lower a fever and it actually worked. If only people...more
Margaret Skea

So much here to fascinate.

I generally reserve 5* for books that I will read and read again, and this is one of them - I've read it, listened to it on CD and read it again. Great for car journeys - can't fall asleep with these facts being read to you. As a writer of historical fiction it has a particular interest for me - some of this will definitely make it into my books - engaging and easy to follow style also - glad to have it on my bookshelf.
Willa Grant
I really liked this book for the research into old & ancient medical treatments, I just wish that the authors were able to cast as critical an eye on modern medicine as they do on old treatments. It doesn't seem to occur to them that turning an ancient herbal treatment into a big pharma pill, is not necessarily better or safer & has it's own problems. Modern medicine has it's own amounts (sometimes quite significant) of mortality & morbidity. This book is worth owning just for the in...more
Maureen Watson
May 29, 2008 Maureen Watson rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: people interested in medicine or science
Recommended to Maureen by: Heard about it at a conference
This book gives the history of medicinal cures before the discovery of antibiotics. There are still a lot of viable uses for the information today, especially with the high cost of medical care in some areas. It was very interesting.
The actual remedies are interesting, unfortunately the writing is distractingly poor. I started skipping the last sentence of each chapter to avoid the inevitable atrocious puns that were lurking there. These are not clever puns (which may make you roll your eyes but still make you smile), these are groan out loud, painful and embarrassing to read Fozzie Bear caliber puns:
pg. 30 " After all, maggot therapy didn't turn out to be such a flyblown idea, did it?"
pg: 70 "chalk up another success for...more
Kristin Bishop
This book is fabulous. It doesn't waste anytime in giving you the most interesting information. From the very first chapter, I was hooked! They talk about folk remedies that have been around for hundreds and thousands of years that have actually been proven to work and are being revisited in the medical field today. Everything from eating clay, drinking urin, and using cellophane to dress wounds, this book will get you thinking! The only drawback is the last 2 chapters were hard to get through f...more
A surprising number of modern medical treatments have their roots in folk remedies. Even those that have been shown to be too dangerous or impractical for modern use have informed modern medicine.

Organized by treatment or substance, this book is fairly well-written (although a tendency to barely-relevant and overly-verbose tangents can be annoying) and gives a good presentation of the relevant medical issues for the layperson. The extensive bibliography helps determine the right direction for de...more
Interesting information, but watered down at most times and overly preachy at others. I understand that old remedies are the basis for modern medicine and that sometimes today we do things medically that are just as baseless as the "ancient" or "old-wives tales" - but that doesn't necessarily mean we should stick to the old ways.

The author's attempt at defining the science/medicine behind the tales was a nice start. What I'd like to have read was more than a start. Plenty of authors have succes...more
Angi Machos
Fascinating book! So far, I've learned that you can heal bed sores and other lacerations with sugar and honey; use leeches to heal reattached limbs & skin, blood clots, glaucoma, and other things; wounds that have been infected with pus heal better than wounds that don't get infected; certain types of maggots are great for cleaning out dead tissue in gangrenous wounds but other types eat living flesh and make problems worse- you have to get the right kind of fly; bathing in water up to your...more
This book goes through "the science behind folk remedies and old wives tales" such as, does licking a wound help? I liked that it talked about chemicals and actual reactions that can take place. It had a lot of eww, that's really cool moments, but I have to admit I didn't read it cover to cover.
It just makes me wonder how I would identify the right kind of fly after I've seriously injured myself in a remote location. Luck of the draw to get the necrotic flesh-eating kind.
May 27, 2008 Tracey marked it as to-read
Shelves: khcpl-not-tcpl
615.88 Ro 1997 - KHCPL NL 23 May 2008 & shoshanapnw gave 3 stars
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