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Enema syringe, Europe, 1701-1900

Treating patients via an enema dates back to ancient Egypt. It was a common treatment during the 1800s when stimulants such as tobacco and coffee were used alongside other substances. This piston-action enema syringe is made of pewter and was a multi-purpose tool. It has a vaginal nozzle attached and originally may have had a rectal one too. Enemas are now administered before certain surgery to wash out the lower bowel as a hygiene measure, or to introduce medications, salts or minerals into the body. In the past they were prescribed for complaints and ailments as minor as indigestion or headaches.

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Glossary: genito-urinary medicine

The branch of medicine dealing with the genital and urinary organs.

Glossary: enema syringe

A syringe for adminstering enemas