“In the old, old days, medicines were referred to as nostrum remedium which is Latin for “our remedy.” During the Victorian era, there were quite a few medical compounds of questionable effectiveness that were made available to the unsuspecting public either through a doctor’s prescription, over-the-counter, or the ever-popular snake-oil salesman.
Many folks also believed (and probably still do), that “the more bitter the medicine, the better the cure,” which was why so many medicines tasted quite foul.
Many of the patent medicines were never patented, mostly so the purveyors could avoid having to reveal what was really in those medicines, the contents being either hazardous, addictive or simply nothing more than colored water.”
“During the period of the Black Death and the Great Plague of London, plague doctors visited victims of the plague.
A plague doctor’s duties were often limited to visiting victims to verify whether they had been afflicted or not. Most urban plague doctors were essentially volunteers, since the real doctors would have fled to the countryside, knowing they could do nothing for those affected.
The good Doktor Schnabel von Rom’s clothing consisted of what would be considered primitive hazardous materials suit which consisted of:
* A black wide-brimmed hat, which not only identified that person as a doctor, but also would have been used as shielding from infectious fluids and other miasma.
* A face mask that was in the shape of a bird’s beak. The beak was often filled with aromatic herbs and spices to cover up the smells of putrefying flesh, sputum, and ruptured bouboules that wafted off dying plague victims.
* The mask also included glass eyepieces that not only protected the eyes, but also made looking through the mask easier.
* A long, black overcoat that was tucked behind the beak and extended clear down to the feet in order to minimize skin exposure. This garment was often coated head to toe in wax in order to repel toxic fluids such as sputum or other bodily fluids, fleas and possible contamination from coughing plague victims.
* A wooden cane, which was used to push away infected patients and keep them at a safe distance.
Part of the appearance of the plague doctor’s clothing was meant to frighten onlookers, and I am certain the plague doctor most likely frightened the very patients he was trying to save.”