Skip to main content

Full text of "Ancient Classic Texts before 400 B.C."

See other formats

On Hemorrhoids 
By Hippocrates 

Translated by Francis Adams 


The disease of the hemorrhoids is formed in this way: if bile or 
phlegm be determined to the veins in the rectum, it heats the blood 
in the veins; and these veins becoming heated attract blood from the 
nearest veins, and being gorged the inside of the gut swells outwardly, 
and the heads of the veins are raised up, and being at the same time 
bruised by the faeces passing out, and injured by the blood collected 
in them, they squirt out blood, most frequently along with the faeces, 
but sometimes without faeces. It is to be cured thus: 


In the first place it should be known in what sort of a place they 

are formed. For cutting, excising, sewing, binding, applying putrefacient 

means to the anus, -all these appear to be very formidable things, 

and yet, after all, they are not attended with mischief. I recommend 

seven or eight small pieces of iron to be prepared, a fathom in size, 

in thickness like a thick specillum, and bent at the extremity, and 

a broad piece should be on the extremity, like a small obolus . Having 

on the preceding day first purged the man with medicine, on the day 

of the operation apply the cautery. Having laid him on his back, and 

placed a pillow below the breech, force out the anus as much as possible 

with the fingers, and make the irons red-hot, and burn the pile until 

it be dried up, and so as that no part may be left behind. And burn 

so as to leave none of the hemorrhoids unburnt, for you should burn 

them all up. You will recognize the hemorrhoids without difficulty, 

for they project on the inside of the gut like dark-colored grapes, 

and when the anus is forced out they spurt blood. When the cautery 

is applied the patient's head and hands should be held so that he 

may not stir, but he himself should cry out, for this will make the 

rectum project the more. When you have performed the burning, boil 

lentils and tares, finely triturated in water, and apply as a cataplasm 

for five or six days. But on the seventh, cut a soft sponge into a 

very slender slice, its width should be about six inches square. Then 

a thin smooth piece of cloth, of the same size as the sponge, is to 

be smeared with honey and applied; and with the index finger of the 

left hand the middle of the sponge is to be pushed as far up as possible; 

and afterward wool is to be placed upon the sponge so that it may 

remain in the anus. And having girded the patient about the loins 

and fastened a shawl to the girdle, bring up this band from behind 

between the legs and attach it to the girdle at the navel. Then let 

the medicine which I formerly said is calculated to render the skin 

thick and strong, be bound on. These things should be kept on for 

not less than twenty days. The patient should once a day take a draught 

from flour or millet, or bran, and drink water. When the patient goes 

to stool the part should be washed with hot water. Every third day 

he should take the bath. 


Another method of cure: -Having got the anus to protrude as much as 

possible, foment with hot water, and then cut off the extremities 
of the hemorrhoids. But this medicine should be prepared beforehand, 
as an application to the wound: -Having put urine into a bronze vessel, 
sprinkle upon the urine the flower of bronze calcined and finely triturated; 
then, when it is moistened, shake the vessel and dry in the sun. When 
it becomes dry, let it be scraped down and levigated, and apply with 
the finger to the part, and having oiled compresses, apply them, and 
bind a sponge above. 


Another method : -There grows upon the bleeding condyloma, a protuberance 

like the fruit of the mulberry, and if the condyloma be far without, 

an envelope of flesh is adherent to it. Having placed the man over 

two round stones upon his knees, examine, for you will find the parts 

near the anus between the buttocks inflated, and blood proceeding 

from within. If, then, the condyloma below the cover be of a soft 

nature, bring it away with the finger, for there is no more difficulty 

in this than in skinning a sheep, to pass the finger between the hide 

and the flesh. And this should be accomplished without the patient's 

knowledge, while he is kept in conversation. When the condyloma is 

taken off, streaks of blood necessarily flow from the whole of the 

torn part. It must be speedily washed with a decoction of galls, in 

a dry wine, and the bleeding vein will disappear along with the condyloma, 

and its cover will be replaced. The older it is, the more easy the 

cure . 


But if the condyloma be higher up, you must examine it with the speculum, 
and you should take care not to be deceived by the speculum; for when 
expanded, it renders the condyloma level with the surrounding parts, 
but when contracted, it shows the tumor right again. It is to be removed 
by smearing it with black hellebore on the finger. Then, on the third 
day, wash it out with a dry wine. You need not be surprised that there 
is no discharge of blood when you remove the condyloma, for neither, 
if you cut off the hands or legs at the articulations will there be 
any flow of blood; but if you cut them off above or below the joints, 
you will find there hollow veins which pour out blood, and you will 
have difficulty in stopping the bleeding. In the same manner, the 
bleeding vein in the anus, if you cut it above or below the point 
of separation of the condyloma, will pour forth blood; but if you 
take away the condyloma at its junction (with the natural parts?) 
there will be no flow of blood. If matters then be thus put to rights, 
it will be well; but otherwise burn it, taking care not to touch the 
place with the iron, but bringing it close so as to dry it up, and 
apply the flos aeris in the urine. 


Another method of curing hemorrhoids : -You must prepare a cautery like 
the arundo phragmites, and an iron that exactly fits is to be adapted 
to it; then the tube being introduced into the anus, the iron, red 
hot, is to be passed down it, and frequently drawn out, so that the 
part may bear the more heat, and no sore may result from the heating, 
and the dried veins may heal up. But if you are neither disposed to 
burn nor excise, having first fomented with plenty hot water and turned 
out the anus, levigate myrrh, and having burnt galls and Egyptian 

alum, in the proportion of one and a half to the other things, and 

as much of melanteria; these things are all to be used in a dry state. 

The hemorrhoid will separate under the use of these medicines, like 

a piece of burnt hide. You are to proceed thus until the whole are 

removed, and a half part of burnt chalcitis does the same thing. But 

if you wish to effect the cure by suppositories, take the shell of 

the part fish a third part of plumbago, bitumen, alum, a little of 

the flos aeris, galls, a little verdigris; having poured a small quantity 

of boiled honey on these, and formed an oblong suppository, apply 

until you remove them. 


An hemorrhoid in a woman may be thus cured. Having fomented with plenty 
of hot water, boil in the water certain of the fragrant medicines, 
add pounded tamarisk, roasted litharge and galls, and pour on them 
white wine, and oil, and the grease of a goose, pounding all together. 
Give to use after fomenting. In fomenting the anus is to be made to 
protrude as much as possible.