Mire doves’ dung with vinegar, and apply it.
– The Garden of Health, William Langham, 1578
Langham’s use of bird droppings in the eyes was continued into the
eighteenth century by, among others, Sir William Read, oculist to Queen
Anne, whose treatment involved ‘the juice of goose dung or the white part
of hen’s dung’.
The main constituents of hen dung are nitrogen, phosphorus
and potassium, with a wide range of traces of other minerals, but the
near-certainty of transmitting disease through fungal infection must have
outweighed any possible benefits.