Pumice has been used as an abrasive with medical applications for over 2000 years. Introduced into traditional Chinese medicine in the mid-eighteenth century, it has been employed as part of a decoction (tea) in combination with a range of herbs and other geopharmaceuticals (including amber, cinnabar, mica and the bones of fossil vertebrates) in the treatment of gall bladder cancer, urinary conditions, dry and hacking coughs, and anxiety disorders. Pumice has had a relatively stable literary history in Western medicine. ‘Spuma maris’ (sea foam) has been a source of some confusion in classical literature, a situation exacerbated by some...
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A History of Geology and Medicine
The historical links between geology and medicine are surprisingly numerous and diverse. This, the first ever volume dedicated to the subject, contains contributions from an international authorship of geologists, historians and medical professionals.
Rocks, minerals, fossils and earths have been used therapeutically since earliest times and details recorded on ancient papyri, clay tablets, medieval manuscripts and early published sources. Pumice was used to clean teeth, antimony to heal wounds, clays as antidotes to poison, gold to cure haemorrhoids and warts, and gem pastes to treat syphilis and the plague, while mineral springs preserved health. Geology was crucial in the development of public health. Medical men who made important contributions to geology include Steno, Worm, Parkinson, Bigsby, William Hunter, Jenner, John Hulke, Conan Doyle, Gorini and various Antarctic explorers.
A History of Geology and Medicine will be of particular interest to Earth scientists, medical personnel, historians of science and the general reader who has an interest in science.