How did nurses in medieval Europe treat some of the deadly diseases? Today in Australia, we treat all our medical issues by going to a doctor or the hospital. The nurses or doctors might give us medication or treatments and rarely, there may be no cure. Was this the same for people in medieval Europe? As stated previously, some physicians thought that bad luck caused medical illnesses, so they used prayers and superstitions to take away these illnesses. Another way people treated general illnesses was to show their love for God at a pilgrimage, so that they could be healed. Doctors who thought that the imbalance in bodily fluids caused illnesses, often forced their patients to bring on sweating, bleeding, diarrhoea and vomiting to create a balance in bodily fluids. Another example, if someone had a toothache, a doctor would place a burning candle near the patient’s mouth, so that the worms that were causing the constant pain would fall out; or the tooth would be pulled out without an anaesthetic. If someone had a fever, some doctors thought that cutting open the skin of the patient and bleeding when the moon passes through the sign of Gemini would cure the patient. Other people thought that if a certain part of the body was ill, having red hot pokers placed on that certain part would heal it. Those who believed that bad odours caused illnesses, often carried small bunches of flowers or herbs to take away the smells. During the Black Death, bloodletting was a treatment used to remove the ‘dirty’ blood that caused the illness in a person’s body. In a barbers shop, leeches were also used in the bloodletting treatment. Another treatment was to cut a patients skin open to release some blood, then a doctor crushed dried toads and dried human faeces to spread over the wound. Often, only the rich could afford to see a surgeon. Surgeons in medieval Europe used knives, saws, hot irons, and sharp instruments for surgery or bloodletting. As you can see, people in medieval Europe had their own treatments and ideas to what would cure a person if they had a medical issue.


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