Mistletoe, Magic and Medicine


    THE October issue of the Bulletin of the History of Medicine contains an excellent survey by Dr. Leo Kanner, of Baltimore, of the history of mistletoe from the earliest times until the present day. The magic virtues formerly attributed to it were as follows: it was regarded as a promoter of grain and fruit harvests; a fattener of live-stocks; an incentive to milk production; a safeguard against ghosts and witches, nightmares and conflagrations; a bringer of luck to farmers, home owners, hunters, warriors, wrestlers and travellers; an agent which forces spirits to reveal their secrets; a discoverer of buried treasures, and a feeder of the mystic mandrake. It was also characteristic of its magic powers that mistletoe was regarded as a panacea, as it was used for the prevention and cure of plague, leprosy, fevers, syphilis, consumption, hæmorrhages, diseases of the heart and lungs, intestinal disorders, poor appetite, skin affections, nervous troubles and, most of all, epilepsy.

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    Mistletoe, Magic and Medicine. Nature 145, 99 (1940). https://doi.org/10.1038/145099c0

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