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Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine: Old World and New World Traditions


More than 240 entries representing folk medical practices used in North America, Britain, Ireland, and Scotland were gleaned from extensive research. Articles are followed by no less than a dozen scholarly references related to the study of superstition and folklore. Ranging from a concise paragraph to several pages in length, entries include the treating of ailments and conditions such as Insect bites and stings (applying spit, urine, soda, vinegar, or well-chewed tobacco); Palsy (ingesting cowslip, applying leeches, or holding a dying chicken); and wrinkles (drinking elderflower water, goat's milk, or an infusion of butterwort) and the supporting of contraception (using birch bark diaphragms, impotence-inducing Rhus trilobata, or eating heart ventricles). Other entries discuss the various uses of remedies such as dandelion and Holly. See also references follow each article, and an index completes the volume.

In concept, this volume is an ambitious effort, an attempt to record for future consideration and study a host of old-world and new-world folk traditions. Such traditions are often passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation, but the current resurgence in using alternative treatment and natural remedies to treat ailments makes examination of this volume worthwhile. This is not a health reference book, however; it would be as much at home in folk culture collections as in a library's medical section. Public libraries with patron interest or academic libraries with collections in traditional medicine would profit from the author's historical approach.

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Tags: entries, applying, World, goats, infusion