I have applied six moxas to Senator Sumner's neck and back, and he has borne these exceedingly painful applications with the greatest courage and patience. A moxa is a burning of the skin with inflamed agaric (amadou), cotton wood, or some other very combustible substance. I have never seen a Man bearing with such fortitude as Mr. Sumner has shown the extremely violent pain of this kind of burning.3
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1 Works, vol. IV. p. 33n. Two letters from the correspondent of the New York Tribune, the first dated June 23, and published July 9, and the second dated July 26, and published August 10, give an account of the treatment, after interviews with the doctor and his patient.
2 The moxa is a mode of cauterization known to the ancients, but in modern times is chiefly confined to Japan and China, where it is freely applied. It is now rejected as a remedy in civilized countries, and is barely mentioned in the medical literature of the present day, milder applications being found equally effective. Larousse's ‘Dictionnaire Universel,’ vol. XI.; Holmes and Hulkes's ‘System of Surgery,’ vol. i. p. 946; vol. III. pp. 640-642. Dr. Hayward at the time recommended Vienna paste instead of the moxa. He had advised against consulting Velpeau, for the reason that he would apply a hot iron to the spine. D r. Brown-Sequard has not treated the moxa at length in any publication; and after applying it to Sumner he discontinued its use, regarding the pain which he saw him suffer as too severe for the human system. This explanation of his disuse of the remedy he gave to the writer in Paris, who has endeavored to obtain from him a complete account of his treatment of Sumner's case; but though promised, it has never been given.
3 In a lecture in Boston, March 14, 1874, the doctor stated that he never saw a patient who submitted to such treatment in that way, and that Sumner's terrible suffering was the greatest he had ever inflicted on any being,—man or animal. New York Tribune, March 18, 1874.
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