Abraham Lincoln & the Mad Stone

A Mad Stone or Bezoar

     There is a tradition in Terre Haute, IN that Lincoln brought young Robert there to be treated with a “mad stone” after a dog bite, possibly in September 1859.  Never heard of a “mad stone,” so couldn’t pass it up. 

    According to several sources, a Mad Stone was reputed to be as a cure rabies. It’s stony concretion (as a hair ball) taken from the stomach of a deer or other animal.  They can be round or oval in shape in a variety of colorswith a porous but shiny surface texture measuring about 3 to 4 inches in size and very light weight. 

     Myths attached to its use include that the Mad Stone can never be bought or sold and was usually passed down from father to son.   The patient must come to the stone and there can be no charge for treatment. 

      The stone is boiled in sweet milk and applied to a bleeding wound.  If it is no longer bleeding it must be scraped until it is bleeding.  The sweet milk neutralizes the poison from the bite.  If the wound is infected with rabies, the Mad Stone will stick to the wound and draw out the poison.  When it falls off, it is boiled until it turns green (releasing the poison) and replaced on the wound until the poison is all removed.  When it will no longer stick to the wound after boiling, the poison is gone.

     My assessment.  Not all bites of rabid animals result in the injured person developing rabies and constantly scraping a wound to cause it to bleed might have some preventative power simply by removing some of the infected tissue. 

     Do Mad Stones really exist?  YES, the more correct name for them are bezoars.  They come in different sizes and colors and are found in several species.  They are also found in humans who chew and swallow hair.  Check out the picture.


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2 responses to “Abraham Lincoln & the Mad Stone

  1. cassius

    is that bezoar belong to you in the picture?
    can i have it,please.

    • Hey, Cassius.Thanks for stopping by. Not mine, LOL. Wouldn’t want to touch it, if it were. Think about where it’s been and what it’s made of – YUCK!! So, if I had one, you’d be welcome to it!! RB

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