While most medications are a mystery to most audiences, there are a few whose native source is more familiar. Willow bark as a precursor to aspirin, or bread mold as that of penicillin, are the usual examples; others, such as poppy extract for a sedative or foxglove extract for heart trouble, are more obscure, but still recognizable to viewers who take an interest.

Therefore, in order to show that a primitive healer, herbalist, or apothecary is genuinely skilled, not ignorant or a fraud, they're shown administering one of these (very) few recognizable RealLife proto-drugs to patients in need. Never mind that an historical physician of the era may not know about the medicine in question, or be capable of extracting the active substance from its raw state in the proper dosage (foxglove is helpful small amounts for heart trouble; in large amounts it causes heart failure), or that another little-known remedy from the period might be safer and more effective: it's always the treatment [[SmallReferencePools audiences will recognize]] that gets used.

Can be an example of ViewersAreGeniuses, for the more obscure remedies. Subversion of ArtisticLicensePharmacology. Does not apply to fictional medications or recreational stimulants, as use of such drugs does not demonstrate legitimate medical know-how. Use of an unspecified or fictitious cure-all herb falls under HealingHerb.
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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]

* ''Manga/ACruelGodReigns'': Whenever Jeremy [[FreakOut gets upset]], usually to the point that he [[BerserkerTears sobs hysterically]] or [[VomitIndiscretionShot throws up]], Ian makes him ginger tea with honey. Ginger is a stomach soother, and ginger tea and ginger ale are common drinks given to individuals who have stomach bugs or nausea.
* In the first volume of OsamuTezuka's ''{{Phoenix}}'', [[PunnyName Em Dee]], a healer from the comparatively advanced kingdom of Yamatai demonstrates his value to the chief of Nagi's village by curing Nagi's sister of tetanus, which he accomplishes by feeding her mold. He also has a rudimentary knowledge of germ theory, as he is able to determine that the infection, which he calls a "death spirit", entered the body through a cut on her foot.

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[[folder: Film ]]

* Disney's ''{{Pocahontas}}'' has Pocahontas give John Smith willow bark for the pain after he is shot in the side.

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[[folder: Literature ]]

* This is done in the ''Literature/CircleOfMagic'' series, in which willow bark tea is used for headaches, fevers, and the like. At one point there is an epidemic, and very modern steps to quarantine the disease and develop treatments through experimentation are undertaken. Somewhat justified in that magic has allowed people in that universe to be much more knowledgeable about the mechanics of the world.
* Willow tea is also present in the ''Literature/TortallUniverse''. Female characters often use it to deal with menstrual cramps. This isn't an {{egregious}} case, though, since every RealLife culture that had access to willows managed to figure out its analgesic properties.
* In one of the Literature/LordDarcy stories, set in the present day but in an AlternateHistory where magic has been developed as a science (meaning, among other things, that medical science has not developed because healing magic makes it unnecessary), two wizards have a conversation about unlicensed healers who do things like treat wounds with moldy bread and heart trouble with "a tea brewed of foxglove". They regard these (real) cures as superstitions, since there's nothing in the laws of magic to justify them working.
* In the Literature/{{Discworld}} series:
** The moldy bread poultice is one of Magrat Garlick's specialties. In ''Discworld/CarpeJugulum'', Magrat also makes willow bark tablets for headaches.
** Willow bark also gets mentioned for a hangover treatment in ''Discworld/{{Hogfather}}'':
--->'''Bursar:''' Willow bark.\\
'''Senior Wrangler:''' That might work. It's an analgesic.\\
'''Ridcully:''' Well, possibly, but he might be better putting it in his mouth.
* Literature/BrotherCadfael is all over this. He was a soldier in the Crusades, and he's an apothecary in his monastic community. Lavender for headaches (''The Price of Light''), poppy extract, and so on.
* In the ''EarthsChildren'' series it's mentioned that practically everybody knows about willow bark tea, even non-healers.[[note]]The [[DidDoTheResearch range of herbal knowledge]] by some characters averts this trope.[[/note]]
* In the ''Literature/GarrettPI'' fantasy/noir series, Dean brews willow-bark tea for Garrett after nights of heavy drinking.
* In the novel ''Literature/{{Outlander}}'', Claire Beauchamp demonstrates even more knowledge that most examples of this trope, when she comments that willow bark tea can make bleeding take longer to stop while discussing the healing properties of herbs with the keeper of Castle Leoch's herb garden.
* In ''ASongOfIceAndFire'', maesters (essentially doctors, though they have other duties) commonly prescribe "milk of the poppy" (that is, opium) to anyone suffering from a particularly painful injury. [[note]]Given that it's described as a liquid it might also be [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laudanum laudanum]], which is opium dissolved in alcohol.[[/note]] They're also known to dispense tansy tea as an abortificant upon request. {{Inverted}} as many of them are also big believers in leeching.
* In LoisMcMasterBujold's ''The Hallowed Hunt'' (part of the Literature/{{Chalion}} series), Ingrey was given a pain-reliving medication made from poppies (among other things).
* Bread mold is among the assorted herbs kept in [[{{Dragaera}} Vlad Taltos's]] witchcraft supply pouch, presumably for use on wounds. In ''Athyra'', some of the treatments mentioned by Master Wag are also this trope.
* Willow bark tea shows up in the first ''[[HeraldsOfValdemar Arrows]]'' novel. There's also a reference in the ''Collegium Chronicles'' to Bear's attempts to preserve bread mold for wound treatment, instead of shipping moldy bread out from Healer's Collegium and hoping the wrong type of mold doesn't develop.
* ''TheKingKillerChronicle'' has relatively well-researched medicine, in particular at the University, some of which, like the metallurgy and other science-y bits, might even be over the head of a general reader. That being said, the main character spends a lot of time chewing willow bark, due to getting his butt kicked a lot and never having enough money for more pure medicine.
* In the ''Literature/WarriorCats'' series, medicine cats use remedies like poppy seeds as a sedative. The authors took much of the medicine cats' herblore from an old book called ''Culpeper's Herbal''.

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[[folder: Live Action Television ]]

* There is an episode of ''{{Dinosaurs}}'' in which the baby gets seriously ill and the family spends lots of money on fancy new medicines. When those fail, they go to a healer who lives in the woods, who cures the baby with moldy bread.
* In one episode of ''Series/QueenOfSwords'' almost everybody in the village gets sick; the MightyWhitey doctor doses them with a practically magical healing elixir, which he later reveals is made from willow bark.
* ''Series/DrQuinnMedicineWoman'' often prescribes willow bark tea.
** She is also seen prescribing digitalis to a woman for a heart murmur. She also prescribes several things given to her by the Native Americans, much to the town's distrust and horror.
* Set up and mercilessly subverted in the episode "Heat Wave" of Tom Fontana's ''Borgia: Faith and Fear'', where fever seizes several characters in 1492 Rome:
** We first see the awful, counterproductive Christian European medicine of the time at work, making the sick sleep in closed chambers (in the middle of the torrid Italian summer!), not stitching open wounds, etc.
** We then see an apparently more professional Jewish doctor, doing something that the modern audience can recognize as actual medical practice: a blood transfusion. However, his patient does not need a transfusion, and the reason it is being applied is also because of Medieval junk medicine, humor balance theory. Not to mention that as a Medieval practitioner the doctor knows nothing about blood type compatibility. This transfusion does nothing to the (adult) patient and causes the death of the three children that were drained to give him younger, more vigorous blood.
** One character finally goes to fetch a witch, who takes her time to denounce the Church's persecution against her guild, claiming that all they do is curing people with completely natural remedies. Her remedy for the feverish is covering them in ''pig shit'', again under the "humor balance" theory of Medieval junk medicine, and she notes that she herself is healthy because [[ThePigPen she bathes often in it]]. Ironically, she is the one to achieve the highest curative rate in the episode (two of her three patients survive), but it's debatable if her efforts had any relation with that.

%% This is a trope used by the writer to tell the audience something about a character. Real life has no writer and no audience, so there are no real-life examples.
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