The book was a short treatise on the common theme of uroscopy
- the diagnosis of illness using a patient's urine.
There has been a steady progression in the sophistication of uroscopy
, or urinalysis by the senses, through the millennia: from ancient Hindus noting that black ants were attracted to sweet urine, to the medieval development of the graduated urine glass known as a matula for determining color; from the first qualitative urine glucose test in 1850 to automated dipstick readers in the 1970s; from Leeuwenhoek's single lens microscope in 1595 to urine particle flow cytometers of today.
This is followed by an exposition of uroscopy
and a further explanation of humours and complexions (ff.
The topics include Paracelsian uroscopy
and German chemiatric medicine in the Medicina Pensylvania of George de Benneville, the patients view of therapeutic pluralism and conflicting medical opinion, and the transmission of medical and pharmaceutical knowledge to colonial North America.
ROSETTE, SCLEROSIS, THROSTLE, UROSCOPY
, VIROSIS, WROS(SE) = 'worse', XEROSIS, YCROST (crossed), ZEROS
manuscripts intended as guides for physicians depict rows of glasses holding colored urines.
Her discussion of uroscopy
--the analysis and use of urine in diagnosis and treatment--will hold the attention of even the most jaded medievalist or overworked graduate student; the connections between uroscopy
and virginity are stunning and, once explained, eminently sensible.
Though subtle and complex in theory and cloudy in interpretation, the practice of uroscopy
involved fairly direct, simple technology: a urine sample, contained in the clear glass urinal, matula, or jordan--shaped in conscious and calculated replication of the human bladder--was "read" for signs of disease, measured against carefully calibrated charts of healthy urine that indicated variations in clarity, viscosity, color, smell, sediments, foreign matter, and, of course, taste.