Praxis Medica cum Theoria (1672)

Praxis Medica cum Theoria (1671)




Lazare Rivière (1589-1655)

He was a French Royal physician to Louis XIII, active at the University of Montpelier. He specialized in anatomy, surgery, and pharmacology. He was the first to describe aortic valve inflammation.

Rivière was born in Montpellier and accepted to the University of Montpellier in 1606. His medical degree and dissertation thesis were completed in 1611. By 1622 he was the chair of Surgery and Pharmacy at the University of Montpellier. He is a pioneer in teaching pharmacy to medical students. Offered university positions at the University of Toulouse and Bologna, he turned them down.

Rivière believed that using pharmaceuticals was appropriate for all illnesses. He developed a reputation for compound medications, including for the treatment of venereal disease (Potio Rivierii) containing burdock as the key ingredient. Rivière recommended coffee and lime to prevent vomiting and laudanum (opium and wine) for pain. He believed that periodontal disease was caused by acrid humor (humoribus acribus). He used a variety of herbal ingredients in his treatments, including nightshade, antimony, opium, and wine. He lists medications for dental pain and for oral hygiene. He proposed brushes of tobacco ashes, alum-based mixtures, or sulfuric acid for cleaning teeth. He treated cavities with cotton swabs dipped in clove, camphor, or boxwood oils and conducted root canals with cautery, sulfuric acid, or nitric acid.  Although the literature indicates Rivière as a priority in describing the oil of clove, Johannis Hartmann already published it in 1632. Rivière also recommended instilling almond oil into the ear on the side of the affected tooth.

The book in our collection, Praxis Medica cum Theoria, is a series of volumes covering different fields of medicine. The 1671 copy was among the dozens of editions of Riviere’s posthumous publications.

Editorial notes by Andrew I Spielman.

Digital Version