Sicuro e portentoso rimedio alla odontalgia, 1793 (Safe and portentous remedy for toothache).

Teodoro Comparini

Teodoro Comparini

We know very little about Comparini, his background and family. The work in our collection is a short study that portends to remove dental pain. It is unsual because of the remedy he is propsing. In Teodoro Comparini’s, “Sicuro e portentoso rimedio alla odontalgia”, he suggests the use of the extract from two beetle varieties, Curculio bacchus and Curculio betulae for topical pain relief as well as for blood thinning agents. The remedy was based on an ancient formula used in certain villages in Lombardy, Italy.


Curculio bacchus
Curculio betulae

Comparini believed in science for the purpose of bringing good to society. His passion existed in “healing the evils” of tooth disease. Though a variety of remedies existed at the time from well-known physicians, Comparini believed most of these treatments to be too ineffective, expensive, or difficult to obtain. In his discovery of using the beetle treatment, he first discusses overhearing many cases of sick people using certain insects to successfully heal pain. He tried it on patients with tooth ache by crushing the insect and rubbing it on the painful tooth. With adequate saliva, the pain appeared to subside.

Comparini then goes on to discuss healing properties for the other ailments affecting the whole body, including the use of the power of electricity in healing. He postulates that generating electricity increases the evaporation of the humors, the movement and circulation of internal fluids. This can dry up the nerve, dissipate the lesion over the nerves, and nourish the vessels of the body. It is noteworthy that electricity was described by Alessandro Volta, a fellow Italian, at about the same time.

Comparini still believed in the humoral theory, a theory that originated from the time of Hippocrates in the 5th c B.C. Comparini believed that an imbalance of the humors led to a loss of circulation in the teeth, a cause for dental pain. It is unknown what the connection, if any exists between his belief in the humoral theory and the use of the two beetles described above.

Based in part on research done by Becca Sirota, class of 2022 as part of their assignment in Elective in History of Medicine and Dentistry, 2018-2019. Edited by Andrew I Spielman