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July 1977

Bits of Bicentennial Dermatology

Author Affiliations


Arch Dermatol. 1977;113(7):984-985. doi:10.1001/archderm.1977.01640070118029

To the Editor.—  With all the current popularity of exhibits of colonial medicine as part of Bicentennial reviews, it is of interest to add some bits of dermatology.First, Indian medicine; the chief dermatological problem was, of course, the epidemics of smallpox acquired from the white man.1 Many of the herbs used by the Indians were later incorporated into the pharmacopeia.2 Boils and superficial wounds were treated with the roots of the tobacco plant. Rothman, many years later, used an infusion of tobacco for the treatment of recalcitrant pustular dermatitis of the hands. Snake root (Aristolochia serpentaria) and lion's heart (prenanthese reubincunda) were used for snake bites.2 Celandine (balsam, jewelweed, touch-me-not, snapweed, lady's earrings) that was popular with the Indians is used todayFig 1.—Rock painting, portrayal of smallpox among Indians from Colorado and Dakota, 1779-1780.Fig 2.—Probable epidermal cysts: Amos Morrow (reprinted from Goldman.5).Fig 3.—Portrait

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