Medicine: Toad Venom

... the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in its head.

Shakespeare's contemporaries carried on their persons, usually in rings, certain "stones" cut from the heads of big, old toads. Toad-stones "touching any part envenomed by the bite of a rat, wasp, spider or other venomous beast, ceases the pain and swelling thereof." This hermetic treatment seems to have had some value.

The Chinese still go to toads for materia medica. The dried venom of certain of their toads they give internally to break up colds and apply externally to treat toothache...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!