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Bleed, Blister, and Purge: A History of Medicine on the American Frontier

Overview

Lewis and Clark treated fevers with pills called "thunderclappers," a strong laxative. Mining camp "soiled doves" may have used opium as birth control. Pioneers sometimes applied fresh cow manure to snakebites. And nineteenth-century doctors recommended soaking in natural hot springs for alcohol and drug addiction. These are just a few of the remedies-some effective, some not-described in Bleed, Blister, and Purge. Yet this book is much more than a summary of peculiar medical practices of the past. Dr. Volney ...
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Overview

Lewis and Clark treated fevers with pills called "thunderclappers," a strong laxative. Mining camp "soiled doves" may have used opium as birth control. Pioneers sometimes applied fresh cow manure to snakebites. And nineteenth-century doctors recommended soaking in natural hot springs for alcohol and drug addiction. These are just a few of the remedies-some effective, some not-described in Bleed, Blister, and Purge. Yet this book is much more than a summary of peculiar medical practices of the past. Dr. Volney Steele wrote Bleed, Blister, and Purge "to shed light on and celebrate the dedication and humanitarianism of those many physicians, nurses, shamans, and people of sound practical sense who saw their patients-often friends and family-through the adversities that bedeviled them."
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Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
An intriguing resource for both the history of medicine and the frontier, Steele's illustrated text covers the bold doctoring of Native American healers, missionaries, Mormon settlers, and grannies to the arrival of professional treatment to the outback from cavalry surgeons and lady doctors. Steele examines the contributions of mountain men, circuit riders, and Chinese herbalists. His broad range includes the medical exigencies of the Battle of Wounded Knee, mining camps, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and multiple amputations during the Civil War. Essential to the overview are instances of poor sanitation, epidemics, and quackery and the efficacy of home remedies, mineral spas, urotherapy, patent tonics, barroom surgery, and extractors for arrows and bullets. Highly recommended for school and public libraries as well as for professional shelves. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Mountain Press, 365p. illus. notes. index., Ages 15 to adult.
—Mary Ellen Snodgrass
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878425051
  • Publisher: Mountain Press Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/15/2005
  • Pages: 367
  • Sales rank: 456,299
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 10.92 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Personal Reflections: The Country Doctor ix
Preface: The Past Enlightens the Future xvii
Overview: Milestones of Medical Progress xxi
Introduction: The Metamorphosis of American Medicine in the Nineteenth Century 1
Part 1 Old West Healers and Healing
1 Indian Medicine: Native American Health Before and After the White Man 19
2 Lewis and Clark: Keelboat Physicians 45
3 Mountain Men: Hunting-Knife Surgeons 63
4 Health on the Western Trails: Hope and Suffering 73
5 Gold Camp Sawbones: Life and Death in the Western Mining Districts 87
6 Unsung Heroes: Army Surgeons on the Frontier 107
7 "Granny Remedies": Pioneer Women and Folk Medicine 131
8 Miracle Cures: Quackery, Fraud, and Faith 149
9 Homestead Doctors: House Calls on the Great Plains 167
10 "No Prejudice Against Women": Female Physicians in the West 201
Part 2 Public Health and Health Education on the Frontier
11 Early Western Hospitals 215
12 The Professional Nurse 239
13 Sanitation and Public Health 251
14 Epidemic Diseases in the West 259
Epilogue: Medicine in the Third Millennium 299
Notes 301
Glossary 323
Works Cited 329
Index 351
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 24, 2010

    An Anthology Of Medical Excellence

    Bleed, Blister, and Purge is not at all a bad book, in fact it is quite good, but it most certainly is not for the faint of heart. It is filled from cover to cover with graphic descriptions, and extremely well built images of horrific proportions. But if you can stomach the graphic nature of the book then it becomes a very compelling tale of a medicine through ought the century, and the effects of poor medicine in the American Frontier. Major points that I saw in the book that were that many of the remedies doctors used during the era were taken from old wives tales and grandmother remedies. It was very informative about the history at the time, for instance it talked about how George Washington believed very strongly in what was known as "Heroic Medicine" which included the practice of bloodletting. Before the doctors even arrived to assist him from his sickness he had already begun the blood letting process, which was not very fun to imagine. That is something I disliked in several areas was how well the infections and other such aliments of the flesh were described was almost enough to make me want vomit at the gratuity of the moment. Overall it was a very good book with just a bit to much gore, I would recommend reading it only if you think you can stomach it as the book describes every detail of the medical process.

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  • Posted August 3, 2009

    Bleed Blister and Purge

    This book was quite detailed. I found it useful as a resource tool while writing a book that included a need for field dressings. Bleed Blister covers a lot of history about diseases, illnesses and such while also including numerous ways that were used to "cure" the ailments back in pioneer days. While some are definitely not answers, it was interesting to see what kinds of treatments were often prescribed, and believed by the general medical practice, to alleviate problems. Very interesting!

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