Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mad Stones, Magic Rocks -- from ca. 1870

How to Find, How to Prepare, and How To Use the Great Natural Remedy for Bites of Poisonous Or Rabid Animals. — There are several possessors of what are called "mad stones," and each of these persons is regarded as peculiarly fortunate to possess the article, which has, in many cases, been handed down from generation to generation, or has been purchased at a high price. The wonders achieved by such stones have many witnesses in their respective sections, and a single little stone has yielded its owner a handsome income, as persons bitten by snakes, mad dogs, etc., will readily pay $2 to $10 merely to be allowed to apply the marvelous stone to the wound. The finding of these stones has been so far mere chance. I propose to tell how they can be obtained with greater certainty. In nearly every section there is what is known as "red shale" or "red shell," and also of a darker color, a nearly black variety of similar rocks. Among specimens of both these minerals will be found occasionally one very porous or absorbent. Try one of these on the tongue ; when one is found that will adhere strongly it is suitable to use. Grind down to convenient shape, with a flat surface. In this way several specimens have been found which on comparison proved exactly like the famous one
owned by the Pointer family, of Halifax County, Virginia, for fifty years, and performing many cures. Should you have any difficulty in finding any of these natural "mad stones," I have learned how artificial ones may be manufactured, possessing equal value ; indeed, such is the secret of the great East Indian "pamboo-kaloo" remedy in cases of wounds by venomous serpents, of which are given many well authenticated instances of its virtue when the patient was bitten by the deadly cobra di
capello. The stone is intensely black and highly polished, and, being porous, rapidly imbibes the blood and with it the poison. The stone adheres for a few minutes, like the "mad stone," then drops off. Analysis of one of these has shown it is a piece of charred bone, evidence of which is afforded both by the aperture of cells or tubes on its surface and by the fact that it exhibits an organic structure within. When heated, water and ammonia escape, and finally the carbon burns away, leaving a
white ash which is phosphate of lime. The snake charmers from the coast also visit Ceylon proper to prepare the snake stones themselves, and to preserve the composition a secret ; the manufacture of them is a lucrative trade carried on by the monks of Manilla, who supply the merchants of India. The Mexicans also have a snake stone, piedra ponsona, which is substantially the same as those above mentioned. To make it, it is only necessary to procure a sound, solid piece of horn, hart's horn is
considered best, and roast slowly until thoroughly charred throughout. This is the whole secret of making, and the product will be found to have all the merits possessed by any already celebrated for their cures. In using either the natural or artificial, the wood must be slightly moistened with water or
spittle, or what would be even better, a little spirits of harts-horn. The stone is to be then pressed into the wound and allowed to adhere until it drops off. Cures are reported in even severe cases in from eight to twelve hours. One, to my own knowledge, applied in a case of bite by a copperhead snake and effected a complete cure in twelve hours. The patient was very sick and delirious.

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