Sugar – the miracle drug
Pierre Pomet (1658-1699) was born in Paris on 2nd April, 1658. He traveled extensively throughout Europe, gaining experience, recipes, and plant specimens for his studies. Upon his return, he opened his own apothecary store in Paris. He quickly gained a solid reputation amongst the medical community and regularly published a drug catalog from his vast collection. In 1694, he first wrote his “Histoire Générale des Drogues”, which was soon acknowledged as the most authoritative and comprehensive book on drugs at that time. It appeared in a folio edition in 1694, but later republished in a new edition in 1735 as two quarto volumes. Pomet’s success and influence lead to his appointment as the chief druggist to Louis XIV. His book was, and still is, recognized as a breakthrough in European understandings of the new medicines and natural products being opened up via colonial expansion into the tropics. The publication was a manual not only on the substances now recognized as ‘drugs,’ but for a broad range of medicines, intoxicants, narcotics, pigments, spices, minerals, and animal products. This work is a complex combination of scientific study and mythical conjecture. Included in his work are such oddities as the use of mummies, fossils, and unicorns in cures and treatment.
Pomet on the benefits of sugar:
“The white and red sugar-candy are better for rheums, cough.-, colds-, catarrhs, asthmas, wheezings, than common sugar; because, being harder, they take longer time to melt in the mouth, and keep the throat and stomach moister than sugar does. Put into the eyes, in line powder, it takes away their dimness, and heals them, being blood-shot; it cleanses old sores, being strewed gently on them.” – Pierre Pomet–translated from the French
Pomet on the use of Opium:
“Opium procures blessed rest by its viscous and sulphureous particles, which, being convey’d to the channels of the brain, agglutinates and slows down the animal spirits…good sleep ensues for the senses…..it composes the Hurry of the Spirit, causes Rest and Insensibility, is comforting and refreshing, in Great Watchings and strong Pains; provokes Sweat powerfully; helps most Diseases of the Breast and Lungs; as Coughs, Colds, Cattarhs, and Hoarseness; prevents or allays Spitting of Blood, vomiting and all Lasks of Bowels”
Pomet on how to choose a good mummy”
”Choose what is of a fine shining Black, not full of Bones and Dirt, of a good Smell, and which being burnt, does not stink of Pitch”
– Pierre Pomet–translated from the French
Indigo production in the New World
The Big Three- coffee, cocoa, and vanilla
Rolling and preparing tobacco
The annatto seed used for paint pigment and healing qualities
Mummies for medicine?
Calling the flies
Unicorns–all 5 varieties?
- Pomet, Pierre. Histoire generale des drogues, simples et composeés [sic] :renfermant dans les trois classes des vegetaux, des animaux & des mineraux, tout ce qui est l’objet de la physique, de la chimie, de la pharmacie, & des arts les plus utiles à la societé des hommes : ouvrage enrichi de plus de quatre cens figures en taille-douce, tirées d’après nature, avec un discours qui explique leurs differens noms, les pays d’où elles viennent, la maniere de connoître les veritables d’avec les falsifiées, & leurs proprietés : où l’on découvre l’erreur des anciens & des modernes. A Paris : Chez Etienne Ganeau & Louis-Etienne Ganeau fils …, 1735.
- Persistent Link:
- Widener Library
- Harvard University