Although John Locke (1632-1704), physician and philosopher, is best known for his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), his medical journals contain a wealth of information about seventeenth-century English medical practice. Among his entries concerning diseases of infants and children is the following description of his treatment of "convulsion fits before tootheing."1 (Teething was frequently blamed for convulsions until this century.)

Mond. Jul. 3. [1682] Convulsion fits before tootheing are from gripeings in the belly. Method [of treatment] 1st. Syrup of Meconium gr. 20 [diacodium or syrup of poppies], and when that has abated as it will do next fit, give sweet [oil] of [almonds] 1 oz., and when that had done purgeing as it will in 12 howers, allay the pain again with syrup of meconium, the fits ariseing only from pain. And so it is afterwards in tootheing, if they are bound purge with sweet [oil] of [almonds] and then allay with syrup of meconium. If they are loose syrup of meconium alone will do, for tis the pains along that cause convulsions in children. If the child be vigorous and a year old [bloodlet] also to prevent height of blood and feaver.

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