16th-Century Gonorrhea Aftercare Treatment

The first edition of A rich Store-house or Treasury for the Diseased (London, 1596) contains numerous medical recipes including one for the aftercare treatment for gonorrhea.


Recipes were sets of instructions to create medicines to treat various diseases
Gonorrhea was known as “running of the raines or reines”
Ingredients for gonorrhea aftercare included flowers, leaves and alum
The medicine was injected into the penis via syringe

The unnamed author “A.T.” published his first edition of A Rich Store-house or Treasury for the Diseased in 1596. The book was a home remedy guide and contained numerous medical recipes or sets of instructions to create medicines to treat diseases. The recipes addressed common medical issues like backaches, headaches, and colds, and some not-so-common ailments including venereal disease.

A rich store house or treasury for the diseased Title Page (1)
A Rich Store-House (1596) contained a recipe for curing gonorrhea

Like today, the bacterium gonorrhea was a problem in the sixteenth-century. People called it “the running of the raines/reines/reins.” It was difficult to cure because the medical experts of the time were unaware of bacteria, and antibiotics didn’t appear until 500 years later.

A Rich Store-house or Treasury for the Diseased contained a recipe for “A very good water to washe the Yarde, of one that hath lately had the running of the raines, and hath beene cured theorof.” In this context, “the Yarde” meant penis.

An updated title might read as “Penis wash for gonorrhea aftercare.”

Aftercare Treatment for Gonorrhea

The recipe in A Rich Store-house read:

TAKE Woodbinde, Daysies and Plantine leaues, of ech of them three good handefulls, and a good quantitie of the best english Honny that you can get, and a peece of Roch Allum as bigge as a Wallnut, then put all these together, in a quart of faire running water, and a good quantitie of Red-rose Water, and boyle them in an earthen pot, or Pipkin, and let it be close couered, for the space of halfe an houre, and then straine it through a fine linnen cloth, and then take of this water being luke warme, & with a searinge squirte it vp into the Yarde of the Patient, and let the Pipe be put in, an inch or somewhat more, and let it be alwaies very stronglye spouted vp, whereby the Water may goe beyonde the sore place, and soe vse it euery day three times for the space of one whole Moueth together, and then he shall be quite sound from this disease for euer after.

The recipe calls for honeysuckle, daisy, plantain leaves, alum, and rose water to be boiled together and strain after boiling. Inject the strained, luke warm water via syringe into the penis. Make sure the syringe is inserted one inch into the urethra. Repeat three times daily for one month.

One long, excruciating month for the aftercare treatment for gonorrhea.

For more on treating venereal diseases in the early-modern period, see the articles on sassafras and guiaiacum.

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