This comprehensive DVD will provide you
with instruction on the proper administration of an enema.
Clyster (also spelled `glister' in the 17th
Century) is an archaic word for enema, more particularly for
enemas administered using a clyster syringe – that is, a syringe
with a rectal nozzle and a plunger rather than a bulb. Clyster
syringes were used from the 17th century (or before) to the 19th
century, when they were largely replaced by enema bulb syringes,
bocks, and bags.
The patient was placed in an appropriate
position (kneeling, with the buttocks raised, or lying on the
side); a servant or apothecary would then insert the nozzle into
the anus and depress the plunger, resulting in the liquid remedy
(generally, water, but also some preparations) being injected
into the colon.
Because of the embarrassment a woman might feel
when showing her buttocks (and possibly her genitals, depending
on the position) to a male apothecary, some contraptions were
invented that blocked all from the apothecary's view except for
the anal area. Another invention was syringes equipped with a
special bent nozzle, which enabled self-administration, thereby
eliminating the embarrassment.
A normal clyster syringe and the nozzle for a
syringe designed for self-administration . The latter avoided
the need for a second party to attend an embarrassing procedure.
Clysters were administered for symptoms of
constipation and, with more questionable effectiveness, stomach
aches and other illnesses. In his early-modern treatise, The
Diseases of Women with Child, François Mauriceau records that
both midwives and man-midwives commonly administered clysters to
labouring mothers just prior to their delivery.
In Roper's biography of his father-in-law Sir
Thomas More, he tells of Thomas More's eldest daughter falling
sick of the sweating sickness. She could not be awakened by
doctors. After praying, it came to Thomas More "There
straightway it came into his mind that a clyster would be the
one way to help her, which when he told the physicians, they at
once confessed that if there were any hope of health, it was the
very best help indeed, much marveling among themselves that they
had not afore remembered it." Utopia, Thomas More.
Clysters were a favourite medical treatment in
the bourgeoisie and nobility of the Western world up to the 19th
century. As medical knowledge was fairly limited at the time,
purgative clysters were used for a wide variety of ailments, the
foremost of which were stomach aches and constipation.
Molière, in several of his plays, introduces
characters of incompetent physicians and apothecaries fond of
prescribing this remedy, also discussed by Argan, the
hypochondriac patient of Le Malade Imaginaire. More generally,
clysters were a theme in the burlesque comedies of that time.
According to Claude de Rouvroy, duc de
Saint-Simon, clysters were so popular at the court of King Louis
XIV of France that the duchess of Burgundy had her servant give
her a clyster in front of the King (her modesty being preserved
by an adequate posture) before going to the comedy. However, he
also mentions the astonishment of the King and Mme de Maintenon
that she should take it before them.