Lord John and the Private Matter

In Lord John and the Private Matter by Diana Gabaldon, there are three intriguing references to remedies of the time (1757). In the novel, there is need for an antidote to mercury, which was the usual treatment for syphilis. The antidote given was copius amounts of raw egg white, which is still used today as an antidote to mercury or lead poisoning, because the albumen in the egg white binds to the heavy metal and is then ejected by the body. In the book, the character so affected had frequent bouts of vomiting.

Second, a battlefield story is told in which a gut-shot soldier was patched up by the application of honey to the wound, which was then bound up tightly, thus forming a battlefield patch that sealed the wound.  In the story, the wound healed perfectly well, which is impressive, considering the seriousness of intestinal gunshot wounds.  This illustrates the powerful antimicrobial properties of honey and is a wound care technique still used today.

Third, syphilis was usually a deadly disease, mercury or no mercury. Battlefield doctors observed that syphilis sufferers who also contracted malaria sometimes were cured of the syphilis, if they indeed survived the malaria. They conjectured that the high fever produced by the body to rid itself of the malaria also “burned out” the syphilis. This is especially interesting because fevers are induced today in some countries as a successful treatment for cancer.

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3 Responses to “Lord John and the Private Matter”

  1. Anna January 28, 2009 at 4:47 am #

    That’s very interesting! I think its important for people to know what their options are in terms of home remedies, especially when it comes to emergencies. You never know exactly what you are going to have lying around when disaster strikes. If you only know of a few items and you don’t happen to have those to hand, you might not realize that you do have something else just as good.

    I never knew until now that honey could help cure wounds! I think there were times I would have used it.

    Annas last blog post..Tom Hanks and his Electric Car

  2. Erika February 27, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    Hello Cheryl, interesting data. I personally have seen what honey can do as when my cousin was little over a year old she pored boiling coffee on her leg. I did not know what to do as the small leg burned really bad but on the table I had a jar of honey so I took a bunch of it an put it on the burn on her leg and not long after she stopped crying and the burn area started to be less read. Her burn healed in a few days and left no scar. Honey really works.

    Erikas last blog post..How Do You Deal With Water Retention Weight Gain

    • Cheryl March 5, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

      I think one of the reasons it stopped hurting right away is that the honey excluded the air. When I was a child, we used to put butter on burns, not because it would cure the burn, but because it would stop the pain by keeping air away. But then, for your cousin, the other attributes of honey went on to heal the burn without a scar. Another way to prevent a burn scar is with liquid vitamin E. You can break a capsule. I used this when one of my children, as a toddler, burned her leg on a floor heater grate. The burn was second degree, but did not scar. Also, the oil kept the air away, so it didn’t hurt so much.

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