Lois Leveen

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February 24, 2012

Antebellum Bedwetters

One of the weirder types of research I did for *The Secrets of Mary Bowser* involved figuring out what medical remedies people tried in the mid-1800s. This is gross and hilarious stuff, and I only wish I could have worked more of it into the book.

So here's a tip that didn't make it in, courtesy of The Family Nurse, published in the 1830s: spirits of turpentine can be used "to bathe the loins and seat of the kidneys" to cure children of "involuntary discharges of urine."

Which seems like bad medicine, because I think most people, upon finding their loins and kidney seats bathed in turpentine, would be discharging some rather unpleasant material, regardless of age.
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