Apparently, books on the use of human corpses as medicine are all the rage! Which is wonderful because my Facebook feed told me that duck nails are all the rage.
Duck nails are gross. Taking medicines made from dead humans is also gross, but if something’s going to be “all the rage” I’ll take the corpse medicine.
Book one is Medicinal Cannibalism in Early Modern English Literature and Culture and book two is Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians. During the 16th and 17th century “many Europeans, including royalty, priests and scientists, routinely ingested remedies containing human bones, blood and fat as medicine for everything from headaches to epilepsy.”
So even though cannibalism was thought of as a “savage” practice of “natives” (this being the golden age of Euro colonialism), it was still fine to grind up an ancient Egyptian mummy to stop internal bleeding.
“Thomas Willis, a 17th-century pioneer of brain science, brewed a drink for apoplexy, or bleeding, that mingled powdered human skull and chocolate.”
If you know what’s good for you you’ll read the entire Smithsonian article about this practice because I’m not even scratching the surface of how fascinating this practice was.