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Drug jar used for fine mustard, Sicily, 1501-1700

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Mustard was little used as an ingredient for medical preparations. It was generally considered to be flavouring for food. But mustard seeds were sometime prescribed for epilepsy and drowsiness. When the crushed seeds were mixed with flour, warm water or alcohol, and heated, a mustard plaster was formed. Mustard plasters were still commonly used in the 1800s as a counter-irritant. The religious figure is St Francis of Assisi (1181-1226), the founder of the Franciscan Order in 1209. Here he is shown with the wounds of the stigmata. His stigmata, which are said to have appeared in 1224, were the first recorded instance of the phenomenon.

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Related Themes and Topics



Glossary: epilepsy

A disorder of brain function characterized by seizures that occur suddenly. The seizures can be triggered by fast flashing lights, especially strobe lighting.

Glossary: drug jar

A (usually earthenware) container designed to hold apothecaries' ointments and dry drugs.

Glossary: pharmacy

The preparation and medicinal dispensing of drugs.

Glossary: counter-irritant

Something that causes irritation to the skin in order to relieve the symptoms of underlying inflammations.

Glossary: stigmata

Bodily marks or sores believed to correspond to the crucifixion marks of Jesus Christ.