How to stop bleeding

Here are a variety of suggestions for staunching bleeding, taken from an early eighteenth-century ‘book of phisick’. The one with a key is interesting – I remember being recommended something similar for stopping a nose bleed. Not sure I’d try the hog’s dung or the toad, although we do have plenty of cobwebs…!

Take sheepherds pouch1 & put into the nostrils
Let Blood in the arm for all Bleedings
Drink water instead of Bear [beer] or tost & water
wear Bloodstones2
Eat peas potage & buterd Wheat for spiting Blood
put Hogs dung up the nostrils or on the wound
or Bloodwort3 leaves
Lay a large Key on the nape of the neck4
put their hands in cold water
set an egg shell over a chafing dish of coals, & bleed into it
Boyle the Blood in a porenger over the fire
Drop a Drop of Blood in simpathetick powder,5 let it be kept warm in another pocket
apply some Hares wool to the part or put up the nostril
Moss powderd & aplyed, stanches Bleeding of wounds & helps cure
Tye the great Toes
Scrap [scrape] a quil, & put up the shavings into the Nostrils
Tye a cork, or hold the thumb just between your Eyebrows
Cuping [cupping] Glases to the Leggs & thighs
Cut a peice of a young Ashe & aply to the Wound
Note if you Aply Leaches the Blood will not often stop till the Sun goes down, therfore lay them not on till about 4 in the afternoon
Take a lock of the Greasiest hair you can get cut out of the nape of the neck, scorch it in the fire, till it frisles, then lay it to the wound
a most effectuall remedy is to set the Leggs & feet in hot water not too hot, but warm
Dry a Toad & hang about the neck in a Tifany or Gause bag
Stiptick water is excellent
make a poultice of a good quantity of suger & lead & aply it to the stomack, excelent to stop Bleeding at the Nose

  1. Capsella Bursa-pastoris, otherwise delightfully known as Clappedepouch, used since the Middle Ages as an astringent.
  2. Green jasper, a stone with red spots that look like drops of blood, said in Middle Ages to be the blood of Christ. Believed to be able to stop bleeding with the merest touch.
  3. Sanguinaria canadensis, a plant with red roots which is high in tannin, probably responsible for its use in stopping bleeding.
  4. Apparently this works because the shock of the cold key brings on the mammalian dive reflex and constricts the blood vessels.
  5. Sounds like something out of Harry Potter – an alchemist’s powder relying on the power of sympathetic magic. Supposedly if you put some of this powder on a sword, any wound caused by it would be cured.

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