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Alcis Cornua et Ungula, c1745-1807

© 2021 Royal Pharmaceutical Society


Glass specie jar for containing the hoof of an elk. From the Burges Collection.

Text on paper contents label reads ‘Catal. mat. med. p. 118. No. 1. Alcis Cornua et ungula.’

Pomet, in his General History of Druggs, claims that the hoof of the elk in particular was believed to cure epilepsy, since ‘[the elk] is very subject to the Falling Sickness; and as soon as he is attack’d with this Disease, he fails not to put his left Foot to his left Ear to cure himself thereof’.

Only the left hind hoof was said to have these properties (though Culpeper says it is the ‘right foot behind’); it was worn in a ring, or around the neck to touch the skin, or ingested as powder.