Anon, A rich store-house or treasury for the diseased Wherein, are many approued medicines for diuers and sundry diseases, which haue been long hidden, and not come to light before this time. Now set foorth for the great benefit and comfort of the poorer sort of people that are not of abilitie to go to thephysitions. By A.T. (London: 1596).
The first edition of A Rich Store-house or Treasury for the Diseased was published in 1596. The book contained numerous home remedies for common medical concerns like backaches, headaches, and colds.
Like today, one medical concern in the late sixteenth century was venereal disease, including the running of the raines or reines. It is difficult to diagnose disease using the historical record, however, more likely than not, medical professionals 500 years ago would sometimes confuse syphilis and gonorrhea and use the general label of “running of the raines” to describe both diseases since the symptoms would sometimes overlap.
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.” As early as the fourteenth century, the term yard meant penis. The term was used in the Wycliffe Bible in the story of circumcision of Abraham and God’s covenant with his people. Genesis 17:10-11 read, “This is my couenaunt, which ye schulen kepe bitwixe me and you, and thi seed after thee; ech male kynde of you schal be circumcidid, and ye schulen circumside the fleisch of youre mannes yeerd, that it be in to a signe of boond of pees bytwixe me and you.” Later translation of the Wycliffe Bible changed the term “yard” to “rod.”
The recipe 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. After boiling, the water was to be strained. The luke warm water was then to be put inside the sufferer’s penis via a syringe that was inserted at least one inch into the urethra. Rinse and repeat three times per day for one long and excruciating month.
All of the ingredients could have been sourced from England except for plantain leaves which could have come from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, or Central and/or South America. The plantain originated in Asia and spread to Africa before the discovery of America, and was introduced to the Americas via the Columbian Exchange.