Medieval Medicine

During medieval times various medical practices were used in order to effectively heal an individual.

In these times there was no scientific medieval medicine or any way to actually develop such medicines as the technology was not available, so people used spiritual influences instead, Shamanistic rituals and ideas from antiquity, however almost every medieval ritual involved using specific plants for healing.

Medieval medicine book

medieval medicine herbs book cures

Medieval Medicine Facts

It is a well-known fact that herbalism (gathering plants) has seen much use in the field of medieval medicine, especially back in medieval times when there were no scientific cures developed.

Special plants were collected by people calling themselves shamans, druids, or apothecaries in order to perform special kinds of rituals for healing and mending a soul.

These traditions were passed on from generation to generation and as times went on these methods were improved upon and the use of raw plants was advanced as they were made into liquids and potions.

Medieval Druids

Druids Stonehenge

Medieval Medicine Cures

In the early medieval times, effective cures were very hard to come by because of the belief, in those times, that the influence of spirits was the only cure for a person and medieval medicine was not needed and any additional potions, plants, and similar would not be required.

Medieval smallpox diseases were common

This thought was gradually being erased due to it proving to be ineffective for proper healing.  In those medieval times a number of different influences were considered helpful, influences such as Hippocratic Medicine, Temple Healing, Pagan and Folk Medicine, Monasteries, and Christian Charity.

Plague Doctor Methods Blood Letting Sucking leech Middle Ages

Cures at those times could be bizarre and plain weird, and some even involved bleeding as being a cure for some illness or disease, along with the use of herbs.  No matter what they tried or what method they used for a cure everything was a hit-and-miss approach.

viking life herbs

In medieval times, cures were developed for many different and bizarre types of “illnesses”, such as Bad luck, bad smell, and similar and this was the case because people were not educated enough to recognize proper illnesses and to understand the need for medieval medicine.

Medieval Herbal book - Medieval Diseases

There were not many cures for medieval diseases in medieval times but herbal medicines were available

Back in Medieval Times if the cure worked and the person miraculously lived, it was believed that the cure actually worked, and then it would be used again.


If after that the cure did not work and the person didn’t live, it was believed that it was the person’s fault and not the cure’s fault.

Medieval Medicine *Children

In the Middle Ages, a lot of people were usually sick their whole lives due to many different illnesses, lack of a proper cure for them including lack of medieval medicine, food, and hygiene all had a bad effect.

The most affected by this were the children who had very little to no immunity to disease due to the fact that they were born small because their mothers had less than the required food to eat while they were pregnant.

Medieval Children Playing on a Medieval Village Road

The water, the air, the food, everything was either bad or worse. The children usually got dysentery and typhoid from drinking the water that was provided at that time and about one-quarter of all medieval babies died before they turned one year old.

Medieval Disease - Bubonic Plague

Major problems were caused when several illnesses would strike at once such as different kinds of colds which came one after another and various measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox illnesses for which there was no cure or medieval medicine to even offer some comfort.

In Medieval times children were usually left to take care of themselves and that was the reason why even the simplest of colds was able to take so many lives.

The Black Death

During Medieval times the infamous Black Death was everywhere, eventually killing millions of medieval people,  almost one-third of the total population according to some medieval historians.

Black Death in Medieval Times

Medieval Medicine was scarce and physicians did not know how to prevent it and had no idea where the Black Death had come from.

The church believed that the Black Death was a curse from God and that is why many of the Medieval population turned to “spiritual” healing and prayers by visiting churches, temples, and making offerings, and similar.

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The problem was that there was no efficient way to counter an illness like the Black Death because people used methods like bleeding with leeches, using candle wax with herbs to treat wounds, and similar.

These methods proved to be either a hit or miss and during this period if at least one person lived from the “cure”, the cure was automatically considered effective.

The Black Plague and Rats 1

Islamic Medicine

Before the 9th century, Islamic people believed that every illness could be cured by believing in Allah. 

Once this proved to be ineffective, around the 9th-century scientific medieval medicine was starting to be made and the first kinds of medicine started to appear.

Medieval people eventually started building hospitals and used them to research, monitor, and develop a cure for most illnesses that they encountered.  They used manuscripts that they acquired from different nations and developed the best possible way to cure an illness at that time most importantly they started using methods that proved to be effective and did not just blame the victim for having died as before.

Different kinds of drugs, potions, and surgery were developed to treat an injury or disease and it is believed that they had the most advanced medieval medicine knowledge due to the fact that they were able to gather information from more than one source in those Medieval times.

Medieval Medicine Summary

We all know where medicine is today and what it can achieve but back then it relied on strong will, a good potion, and a lot of rest.  During the end of the medieval ages, a lot of methods were considered ineffective and more complex medieval medicines and drugs were implemented which brought concrete and definitive results that proved that the cure actually worked.

During the middle ages, new diseases appeared, and new knowledge was gained about them, how they were transmitted, and most importantly how to cure them.  Where medicine will go next, no one is exactly sure but we do know one thing, we still haven’t even found a cure for the common cold.