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Snails in or as medicine

Snails have been used for medicinal purposes since Roman times when Pliny described the uses of snails for colds and sore throats.Until recently Newcastle glassblowers had a feast of snails to fortify their lungs. Dr. J.Quincy said,in 1728,about snails:"They abound with a slimy juice; and are experienced very good in weaknesses and consumption, especially for children and tender constitutions. To make a syrup of snails, take Garden snails, early in the morning while the dew is upon them, one pound; take off their shells; slit them; and with half a pound of sugar, put them in a bag; hang them in a cellar and the syrup will melt and drop through; which keep for use. It possesses in the best manner all the virtues of snails." In 1758 a Mrs.Delaney wrote:

A recipe to cure consumption(from the Penny Illustrated March 22nd 1913)

And another one from 1866:

Even though snails were considered to cure especially pulmonary illnesses(like consumption),they've also been used as a panacea(a cure for all maladies). The London Dispensatory (1696) said: “the flesh (of snails) cools, thickens, consolidates, is pectoral, strengthens the nerves, cures coughs, asthmas, spitting of blood and consumptions; (used) outwardly they ripen tumours, imposthumes and carbuncles.” The Rich Storehouse of Medicine (1650) told that “for any manner of boil, fellin or uncome, take twenty garden snales and beat them, shells and all, in a mortar until you perceive them to be come to a salve, then spread a little thereof upon a linen cloth and lay it on the place grieved .... and it will kill the fellin”. From the same source comes this recipe: a very sovereign remedy for the gout, take a good quantity of snails and pick them forth of the shells and stamp them in the mortar: then put them in a pretty quantity of salt, salet oyl, and sope, and stamp them all well together in the mortar with the snails; then take the same and make a plaister thereof, and apply the same to the place grieved, and so let it ly for the space of three days and this will destroy the gout.” A mix of pounded snails and crushed parsley was used as a poultice to cure “scrofulous swellings”.In Boyle's Colection of Medicines(1695) he gives “a tryed medicine for a whitloe” : “Take House snaills and beat them, shells and all, in a stone or wooden mortar so long till they be reduced to the consistence of a cataplasm, which apply some what warm to the part affected, and keep it on for sixteen or twenty four hours, renewing it then if need be.” Snails were also use to cure obstinate eczema of the skin.

Local,rural,communities had their own uses for snails.For example in South-Hampshire snails were added to soaked breadcrusts and made into a poultice to cure weak eyes. In Gloucestershire a snail was pricked and the juice that came out of the snail dropped in an ear to cure pains.A live snail carried in a bag around the neck for was supposed to cure fevers.After nine days you had to throw the snail into the fire where it would shake like it had a fever thus healing the patient.

A recipe from 1700 to cure jaundice is this: "Take a peck of snail shells, lay them on a hot hearthstone before the fire until they have done hissing and spitting, then wipe them from the froth and break in a mortar. Have a quart of earth worms, slit and scoured clean with salt and water and heat them with the snails. Then take angelica, celandine, wood-sorrel, agrimony, bearfoot, barberry bark, great dock roots of each two handfuls, rosemary flowers a quart, 1 lb. of hartshorn, turmeric and fenugreek 2 oz. of each, 1/2 oz. of powdered saffron and 3 oz. of cloves fresh beaten. Shred and infuse all in 3 galls. of ale, then distil and draw off. Three spoonfuls in a glass of sack before every meal and use moderate exercise."

More information can be found here.

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