Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Looking for a cure for your headache? Try a live toad, applied topically. Perhaps you have kidney issues. Cut a live toad in half and apply it directly to your body. If your child has a problem wetting the bed, make an amulet out of toad ashes, and have the kid wear it. Yep. Toads. At one time they were considered a multi-purpose cure-all.
“Toad cures” first appeared in Roman times. Powdered, toads were administered to promote a free flow of urine. In the 1600s and 1700s doctors used powdered toad to cure cancerous ulcers. Live toads were used to cure cancerous breasts (I’m not sure how). But in the 1800s, a certain group of doctors used toads exclusively. These guys were called “toad doctors” and they operated in western England.
Toad doctors’ primary use of toads was to cure the “King’s Evil,” also called scrofula. Scrofula is a form of tuberculosis that affects the lymph nodes in the neck. One remedy was to tear the legs from living toads, which were then placed in bags and worn around the neck. Another was to put a living toad in a bag and hang it in the room of the sufferer. As the toad died and withered away, so, it was said, would the disease.
But toad doctors treated more than just scrofula. They traveled the countryside selling parts of the toads, sometimes raw, sometimes powdered. One doctor recommended using the venom of the toad in cases of epilepsy, rabies, and paralysis.
But not everyone believed. Critics questioned the medicinal use of toads even as early as the 1700s. By the 1800s, the use of toads as medicine was associated with superstition. Regular doctors protested that toads had little value as medicine. By 1900, toad doctors had ceased operating.
But before you laugh and wonder how anyone can be so stupid as to believe that toads can cure anything, I found a scientific study that claims, “Toad skin-secretions are potent source of drugs. It's probably the only such source in nature from where we can get nearly six types of drugs possessing analgesic, painkiller, antibiotic, anti-viral and anti-cancerous properties as well as possessing potential of treating cardiovascular diseases.” (Read the article here: Toad skin-secretions: Potent source of pharmacologicallyand therapeutically significant compounds).
So, is it possible that the powdered toad administered by toad doctors might have contained an active ingredient that had some medicinal value?