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Treatment for sores caused by syphilis, Democratic Republic of Congo, 1880-1890

Inside the cord mesh-covered brown bundle is a traditional plant-based treatment from the Portuguese Congo (now Angola) for syphilis. The treatment was applied directly to the sores or it could be taken internally. This bundle is one of hundreds of local treatments and cures that were collected from across the African continent by Henry Wellcome’s agents. These were packed up and sent back to London, with a brown paper label attached to the bundle explaining its uses.

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    Glossary: amulet

    Small object or piece of jewellery worn as a protecting charm to ward off ill health and bad luck.

    Glossary: syphilis

    A sexually transmitted infection resulting in the formation of lesions throughout the body.

    Glossary: sexually transmitted infection

    Any disease transmitted by sexual intercourse. STIs include HIV/AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhoea, some chlamydia infections and genital herpes.