Folk medicine has always been a very important element in the care of the sick, or those who thought they were. For all prehistoric times and, for the most part, during historic times folk medicine was the only medicine people got. The degrees of sophistication arrived at in folk medicine and medical lore of the populace give a good measure of the social conditions of a period of history and of various regions of the world. Folk medicine should be distinguished from quackery, which is the practice of deceit by the unscrupulous for profit and an example of the immemorial practice whereby the greedy gull the guileless.
Richard R. Trail has surveyed the history of folk medicine in England in his 1964-1965 Fitzpatrick Lectures. As medicine has become more complicated, it has separated fairly widely from folk practice but quickly returns if standards slacken or ideas outrace common sense. Throughout