Traité sur la carotte, et recueil d'observations sur l'usage et les effets salutaires de cette plante, dans les maladies externes et internes. La Rochelle, Lhomandie, nd.
Octavo:  leaves + xxii-430 +  pp.
Lovely contemporary calf binding. Full restored. Clean copy. Folding frontispiece. Authenticated irst edition/impression signed by author.
This is an extraordinary and very rare work on medicine and natural history. It is often misdated (WorldCat manages to list the book as having been printed in (1766?), [1790?], , , and [ca. 1803]!).
In the UK meanwhile, only one copy is listed at the Royal College of Surgeons, London.copies in the US or in London has a frontispiece. The National Library of Medicine notes ‘ill’ which suggests perhaps that its copy has one; certainly, the copies at the BN Paris, BM Lyon, at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (which dates its copy to ‘1766?’), and other European national libraries list no frontispiece or illustration.
Born in 1739 in La Rochelle, Ami-Félix Bridault went to study medicine in Montpellier in 1756 and from 1769 he worked in various hospitals in La Rochelle. He was known about town as a proponent of the carrot cure and sometimes mocked in the streets as ‘le médicin aux carottes’.
The book is a really notable (and even charming) example of local medical research. Is it the earliest full-length treatise devoted to the medical benefits of a single vegetable?
The book opens with general considerations of the carrot, its different preparations, the affections it can cure, and what physicians and botanists have said of its properties. But the greater and the best part of the Traité sur la carotte consists of a detailed account of the carrot-treatment of 170 patients, of whom all but ten were cured.
Each patient is described by name, age, the domicile, the circumstances of the disease, even the medical history, the treatment followed, "precautions ... absolutely necessary to rule out any suspicion, and to confuse disbelief". Thus parade many women affected by breast cancer, who sometimes even see the age at which they were treated. Only the identity of individuals affected in the genitals has been suppressed, at their express request. (The Hippocratic Oath recommended medical secrecy, but this did not become an obligation in France until 1810 with the Penal Code promulgated by Napoleon Bonaparte, article 378.)
Externally, in the form of a decoction, juice, grated pulp, Bridault recommended the carrot against inflammatory tumors, ulcerated cancers, wounds, sores and other dermatological diseases. Internally (decoction, infusion, juice, syrup, extract), it indicated against jaundice, stomach problems. He possibly associated it with bloodletting, purgatives, diets, mercury (a substance then used against syphilis), etc. Certainly, the intention is to offer remedies within reach of all: the book is dedicated ‘to the poor’.
The use of the carrot in medicine is old, he recalls in the first part of his treatise. It evokes in particular the comments of Pietro Mattioli (1501-1577) on Dioscorides, where wild or cultivated parsnips and carrots are recommended to ‘make corrosive ulcers’ and where carrot leaves are suggested crushed and applied to the skin with honey (Di Pedacio Dioscoride, III, 52).
A charming book, entertaining and readable, and a scarce curiosity!
- Number of Books
- Botany, Medicine
- Author/ Illustrator
- Ami-Félix Bridault
- Book Title
- Traité sur la carotte, et recueil d'observations sur l'usage... maladies externes et internes
- Publication year oldest item
- 1st Edition
- Original language
- Binding/ Material
- Signed by author
- Number of pages
- 21×13 cm