“The other day I discovered in an old old French book on native medicinal plants of France, a passage where we talk about vaginal steam !! In the past it was a very common practice in France, especially in the countryside. The passage in the book indicated the use of mugwort (artemisia vulgaris) as a decoction whose steam were directed towards the vulva, and was used to induce menses, clean menstrual clots, and promote the flow of lochia after birth for postpartum cares. The passage indicates the current use of other indigenous plants for this ancestral practice : wormwood, chamomile, calendula and chervil.
So, the old french book dates from 1876, and is called : “Treaty practice and reasoned of the indigenous and acclimated medicinal plants”, by the French doctor : H. Cazin ( = “Traité pratique et raisonné des plantes médicinales indigènes et acclimatées”.)
And for information, in the book, Cazin started practicing medicine in 1832, in a big city in the north of France. Then he abandons everything to put himself at the service of the country populations, who suffer a lot at that time from a governmental abandonment. (At that time, the patriarchy, the church and capitalism already burned the “witches”. The genocide of women took place between 1300 and 1700 in Europe. I hope to find other old French books who talk about before this period, to see if we talk about vaginal steam in France more widely.)
It is a medicine of the rich at this time, or the drugs are expensive. Cazin tries to set up free healthcare and fight against cultural appropriation, which was already raging at the time in medicine (colonizers for ever and ever…), in the French big cities, with the use of expensive “exotic” remedies. He tells how he returns to the medicinal plants that country people can find for free in nature.”
An additional book has emerged by Sir Peter Lalonette from 1776 entitled A New Method of Curing the Venereal Disease by Fumigation. The history of Lalonette and his book is discussed in a blog article by Sarah Murden.
-Contributed by Julie Austin