8 Medical Practices From Medieval Times That Will Turn Your Stomach

13th century depiction of a hemorrhoid surgery. Weird-diseases.blogspot.com

Hot Iron for Hemorrhoids

If you went to a healer or a physician with hemorrhoids in the Middle Ages, you had a few options for treatment and they ranged from the painless and ineffective, to the painful and ineffective.

In the Middle Ages hemorrhoids were often called St. Fiacre’s curse, which is strange because St. Fiacre is the patron saint of hemorrhoid sufferers. It is said that St. Fiacre was working in his garden when he sat upon a stone. After sitting on the stone, he found that he was completely cured of his hemorrhoids and as he looked at the stone he saw the imprint of his hemorrhoids. Some physicians told their clients to sit upon the stone and hope for a cure from St. Fiacre. The stone exists to this day and people still sit upon it hoping to be cured.

If the stone was not enough to cure the hemorrhoids, then the physicians would resort to more extreme methods. Typically, this would involve cautery irons being inserted into the rectum in order to burn off the offending hemorrhoids. Other physicians would simply try and pull them off with their fingernails as was suggested by the Hippocrates.

Thankfully for those in the Middle Ages, real relief did arrive in the 12th century when Jewish physician Moses Maimonides wrote an extensive treatise on hemorrhoids. His recommendation to for hemorrhoids is the same one that is commonly used today, a sitz bath.