Friday, 4 November 2011

'Of the ranke savour of the arme-holes': A remedy for B.O

Oi! You! Step away from the garlic!!!

I came across this handy remedy for body odour while looking through a 17thc birth manual:

'This vice in many persons is very tedous and lothsome: the remedie whereof is, to purege first the chollericke and eagre humours, originall causers of the same, and afterwardes to wash the arme-holes oftentimes with the water wherein Wormewood hath beene sodden, together with Camomell, and a little quantitie of Alome.'
 '...the rootes of Artichaughes (the pith picked out) sodden n white Wine, and so drunke, doth avoid the stenche of the arme-holes, and other parts of the body'

So there you have it! wash in a bit of wormwood/chamomile water with some aloe vera to keep your 'arme-holes' smelling sweet. Alternatively you could just drink some white wine with a little artichoke root in it, great!. (A little more explanation surrounding the medieval medical theory of  the 'humours' of the body will be the topic of another post, another day!)

Common wormwood or Artemisia absinthium

Apparently the common wormwood can be found in many part of the world including the UK and the US and is often found growing in wasteland or by roads.



  • Top image: Theodor Rombouts, Allegory of the five senses from the wga
  • Image and information on 'Common Wormwood' at
  • Artichoke image from here
  • Quote from: Raynalde Thomas, The Birth of Mankinde, otherwise named The Womans Booke, (Thomas Adams: London, 1604), f. 204.

Copyright © 2011 Elaine Hunter

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