Wark The Practical Home Doctor Womans Medical Hand Book.
This scarce reference book for women is entitled “The Practical Home Doctor for Women and Children” or, “The Woman’s Medical Hand-Book”. It also touts: …to which is added a valuable appendix containing a list of medicinal herbs and their value, with chapters explaining poisons and their antidotes, how to resuscitate the drowned, how to proceed in cases of accidents and emergencies, the skin and its care, the teeth and their care, etc. The author is David Wark. This is a First Edition, dated 1882.
In the Victorian age, people often relied upon books of this type, especially when one considers they may have lived in rural outlying areas. Often this was the only source for medical advice, even though some of it is pure quack medicine!
Some of the topics include abortion, barrenness, changes in breasts, cancers, constipation, convulsions, epilepsy, fainting, milk fever, pregnancy gestation, headache, hysteria, insanity, labia abscess, menses, pregnancy, care of nipples, piles, quickening, sexual malformation, sleeplessness, sterility, bad teeth, vaginal problems, womb problems, water on the brain, chicken pox, eczema, herpes, hives, hydrocephalus, infant mortality, meningitis, night terrors, pertussis, rickets, scarlet fever, shingles, worms, whooping cough. There is also a comprehensive index, and a section on herbs and homeopathic medicine.
There are so many topics in this wonderful volume, it is hard to list them all. Here are some excerpts from the text.
On CORSETS: “There are two illustrations of the female form (see photo), that demonstrate a woman’s body with and without the corset. Figure 2 shows the outlines of a woman who form has been distorted by the improper use of corsets, and other clothing. So great a departure from the natural feminine form necessarily involves corresponding displacements of the internal organs. The lungs are thrust upward, and the motions of the diaphragm obstructed; the liver, stomach and spleen are forced backward, and crowded together. The intestines are depressed, causing the womb, ovaries, and the other internal generative organs to be displaced downward.”
On PELVIC CONTRAPTIONS: “After the morning injection, the pessary should be replaced for the day; but after removing it for the night it need not be replaced until the next morning. If the vaginal orifice be too large the pessary will not remain in its passage. Undeer these circumstances straps should be attached to a wide belt around the vaginal opening; when these are applied properly, displacement of the pessary cannot occur. Medicated balls, made according to prescriptions 69 and 70, may be introduced into the genital canal and allowed to dissolve during the night. Recipe 60: Tannin, 2 drams, cocoa butter, 1.5 ounces.”
On HYSTERIA: “When we consider the almost endless variety of phases in which hysterical affections are manifested and the misery occasioned thereby both to the sufferer and her friends, we are constrained to admit their importance, although the diseases can never of itself be charged with directly leading to fatal results. The old physicians who invented the term believed that hysteria was a constitutional manifestation of some disorder of the female generative system. They blamed the uterus for doing the gentle sex much mischief of which it was entirely innocent. They allowed their patients to believe that the womb sometimes started up under their ribs causing lumps and pain in the side, or that it occasionally undertook longer journeys to the throat or brain…”
On PROMINENCE OF THE EYEBALLS: “This somewhat rare disease is confined almost entirely to women, although it has been observed in men. The most notable symptom is an undue protrusion of the eyeballs, giving the patient a ferocious expression…”
On WORMS: “The round worm inhabits the small intestines, but often wanders far from its home. They have been known to ascent into the stomach and throat. Children have been chocked to death from a round worm having crawled up the gullet, and thence down into the windpipe, which is blocked up…”
On TEETH: “Do not bite thread, crack hard nuts, or any solid substance with the teeth, for by so doing you wear away the enamel or crack it. Regular, even, and pearly-white teeth add very much to the beauty of the face, and go far in compensating for a lack at some other point.”
On ALCOHOL: “This is sometimes difficult to difficult to distinguish from concussion or compression of the brain, or apoplexy; but ordinarily, the friends will recognize the symptoms. Treatment: The stomach should be emptied at once by a tablespoon of mustard in warm water, followed by copious draughts of warm water, and the patient should be roused from his perilous condition of coma by dashing cold water upon his head.”
At the back is a large appendix of natural homeopathic herbs that can be used for remedies.
This is a wonderful old book with insights into the Victorian life, with special interest to pregnancy, children, disease, and homeopathic cures. Even opium and morphine are listed…! Some remedies are quite interesting, others somewhat shocking.
This hardbound book has yellow cloth covered boards with black imprinting, as well as gilt lettering on the spine. The outside boards are in VG condition, with the usual wear. The inside pages are clean and holding well, and there is no writing inside. It would appear that this was a cabinet book and seldom read. The hinge papers are amazingly uncracked. Just a couple signatures in the center of the book protrude just a bit but are also holding well. The back has handling wear and a stain. There is a frontispiece illustration of Mr. Wark. It is a large volume at 552 yellow tipped pages, and measures aprox 6 x 9.25 inches, and 2 inches thick.