Try a Madstone

June 23, 2009
Try a Mad Stone
Courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Arme

Have you ever heard of a mad stone? This home remedy was used for centuries to heal though it’s not a common practice today.

A mad stone (sometimes called a ‘bezoar stone’) is used to draw poison out of bites and wounds. It works by absorbing the poison bit by bit, curing the bites by detoxifying them completely.

  • Mad stones can be found in the stomach or intestines of cud-chewing animals.
  • Depending on the animal, the stone may be more potent and valuable; for example, the stone of a brown deer is said to be inferior to that of a white deer.
  • Mad stones are not to be bought or sold; such interaction may negate their healing powers.

Naturally, the effectiveness of mad stones has long been in dispute. Can cosmic healing powers really reside in the intestine of a cow? There is only one way to know for sure…

Please Pass the Stone

Want to try a mad stone? The challenge is getting hold of one—since they can’t be purchased for money. We advise traveling to the home of a stone’s owner.

If you have experience with mad stones, please share your story or your stone in the box below. To learn more about mad stones, please see the 2010 edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.


Adapted from an article in The 2010 Old Farmer's Almanac

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In the 1930s my dad was bitten by a dog and he had rabies my grandparents took him to some in the Virginia mountains who had a Mad stone somehow he was cured and never had anymore symptoms of rabies

Mad Stone

I have seen "Mad Stones," and they come from the stomach of cud chewing animals. Also known as a "Bezoar." They are known to have healing properties for poisons. When I was a kid, my aunt and her friend were picking peas and were both bitten by the same rattlesnake. An old woman next door heard the screams and when she heard "snakebite," she ran inside and came back out with a leather pouch and put them in her car and drove them 20 miles to the emergency room. On the way, she used a "Mad Stone" taken from the stomach of a white deer on both bites and drew the poison out and neither of the women had to have the antidote injection.


My grandfather said when he was a kid he was bitten by a Rabid dog his dad took him to One of the Stars that had a madstone he said that it came from the stomach of a white deer he said they soaked it in milk Nd that it stuck to his wound then fell off then they put back in milk till the milk turned blue then they put back on wound and continued until it hit sticking to the bite my mom doesn’t know how old he was only that he was a kid early 1900s

Mad stone

Just learned of this today from my Aunt. Healing in the hills

"The Madstone" on Death Valley Days

I had actually never heard of a mad stone until I saw an episode of Death Valley Days on STARZ Western's channel, which let me to search the Internet and I found this article. I'll definitely be looking for one in every deer hunt from now on!

FYI: Death Valley Days, Season 9, Episode 18. First aired on Wednesday, January 18, 1961.

Mad Stone

FYI, I have just learned from a hunter here in Montana that the mad stones of Bison are considerably larger than those of deer.

All the best,



Uncle Charlie had an older brother named Samuel Clyde Taylor who was red headed and called Red Taylor. I met him at Smith’s Grocery store in the fork of highways 221 and 49 in Laurens County, SC one day in 1964. Uncle Clyde told me that he had a horrible tooth ache. When I asked him why he did not get it pulled, he said the sign was in the head. He followed the zodiac signs in the Farmer’s Almanac and said he had to wait until the sign was in the foot. He believed a pulled tooth would bleed too much if the sign was in the head. He suffered with the tooth for several more months and when the sign moved to the foot, he had it pulled.

signs vs symptoms

The Editors's picture

Another great tale, Ron! We are delighted to see that people continue to practice traditional ways, in choosing the “best day” (see here for more: and the best method, exemplified by your tale of the mad stone, below. Thanks for sharing!

Mad stone

The Mad Stone
Franklin Callaway Taylor was bad to pet stray dogs. One hot summer day in Laurens County, SC he ran up Highway 49 and tried to pet a stray. The dog bit him on his arm and he ran back to the house. The dog was rabid and chased the other children into the house. Their father, Robert Whitner Taylor, saw the bite and tried to kill the dog but it escaped. The year was around 1910. Robert Whitner hitched up the wagon and he and Uncle Charlie rode to Maddens Station where Mose Madden lived. Robert asked Mose for his mad stone. A mad stone is a black stone taken from a deer’s intestine. Robert Whitner took the mad stone home and rubbed it on Frank’s dog bite several times. They watched Frank for several days and because he showed no signs of rabids, Robert Whitner returned the mad stone to Mose Madden. Uncle Frank lived to be 73 years old and lived a healthy life.

Madstone magic

The Editors's picture

Great story, Ron! Thanks so much for sharing it. A story about madstones appeared in thr 2010 edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. We here had never heard of it before then, but stories like yours further endorse its credibility among old-time country cures. Thanks again for taking the time to write!


Jack Kutz included in his 1994 book, Mysteries & Miracles of Texas, a chapter called Madstone Magic, which cites several uses of the stone in the 1880s to save several lives. In each incident, the description of how the stone was used is given.

Mad about . . .

The Editors's picture

Madstones. Thanks for sharing this, Doris. It is gratifying and exciting to see these endorsements of the madstone—its powers but also its presence in American legend and lore. We had a sliver of skepticism when we first heard about it as a story pitch for the contributor who wrote about it for the 2010 Almanac; no more of that! She and you folks make a strong case for the authenticity of and faith in it. Thanks for taking the time to write!

Mad stones should be

Mad stones should be preferably, something that you receive in trade. Mad stones given is the other. If mad stones are ever stolen - the theif who pocesses the stones, by bad karma, will never have good fortune or good health again.

How can you tell if it's a

How can you tell if it's a madstone if you find one, and how does it look like? Mainly how can I get one from a deer? Please let me know

My name is Gary Carden and I

My name is Gary Carden and I live in Sylva, North Carolina. Over the years, I have developed an interest in madstones and remember seeing them as a child when children sometimes carried them in their pockets at school. Now, they are extremely rare. I am currently writing a folklore book and I want to include a chapter on madstones. If some owner is willing to send me one, I will take it to the Mountain Heritage Center at Cullowee and ask that it be included in an exhibit there. I think we need to record and preserve this fascinating bit of the past.


Hi Gary, I am your neighbor, over in Waynesville, and I m interested in Mad stones too. Would love to hear your stories. I only have one,which I will post here, though I do recall a child bringing one to show and tell when I was a child in Georgia.

I have one which has been in

I have one which has been in my dads family for about four generations. He gave it to me to give to my granson when he gets older. I have never tried it. I am going to ask my dad more questions about whether he has seen or heard of this particular stone being used, and write it all down for my grandson. Will try it on a sting or bite next time one happens.

My Grandmother, the late

My Grandmother, the late Hazel Cook, talks briefly about Mad Stones in a journal she kept. She talks about them being used to "cure several illnesses, including mad dog bites." This was during the 1920s in Missouri. She didn't mention ever using it though.

Landmark,The,Sept 4, 1885

Landmark,The,Sept 4, 1885 Iredell Co NC: "A supposed mad dog gave a part of Davie and North Iredell a lively shaking up last Sunday and Monday. He is supposed to have hailed from the neighborhood of Cross Roads. He was very large and lean; a white dog with black ears. At Frank Frost's, in Davie, he bit a calf, at Patrick Cain's, a dog, at Gus Shaw's, two dogs and two lambs, and at Shields Marler's, a dog. He then crossed over into Iredell, bit a dog belonging to E E Smith, Jr., Wes. Leagan's dog, John Ellis's dog, and Alfred Gaither;s dog and two children, one of the children on the arm and the other in the face. At Mrs. Caroline Hayes's he bit a dog and two hogs. He tore LaFayette Revis's dog all up and bit a dog and four or five hogs for old man Jimmy Andrews. He accomplished all this Sunday and in part of Monday, and Monday afternoon was seen by the mail carrier lying in the public road between Sheriff Allison's house and Turnersburg. His carriyings on created a big excitement in the neighborhoods through which he passed, and though some persons followed him it was in a half-hearted way. Nobody really wanted to find him, and a great many people were actually afraid to leave their houses. Several of the dogs which were bitten by the stranger have since been killed by their owners. Mr Gaither carried his children to Rev. John Paris's mad-stone, but it would not "stick".

These made-stone tails

The Editors's picture

These made-stone tails continue to surprise us. Thank you all for sharing them.

mad stonIt's crazy madstone,

mad stonIt's crazy madstone, this stone What is the 1st in a tin pot of water mean the water inside the stone at her, then she buda buda limited then the snake bites the tesata is going to win in this stone from us have a stone in the light to see the glossy black phone nam 08652029038

The "Celebrated St. Francis

The "Celebrated St. Francis County Madstone," was owned by Mr. William Pittman of Ripley, Tennessee. The madstone, a calcified hairball from the stomach of a deer supposedly had the power to daw out toxins and fevers, was found in a St. Francis County indian mound. A madstone from a white deer was allegedly more effective than a brown deer madstone. To be effective, madstone had to be found; they could never be purchased or given if they were to work. The May 2, 1913, "Forrest City Times" reports that the five year old niece of Mrs.Maud Nance was badly bitten by a dog, Mr. H. Boulton saved the child from the dog but was also bitten. Mr. Pittman and his madstone were called for and after giving treatment to the dog bite victims, they were reported healed. In a story in a 1920 edition of the paper, the"Celebrated St. Francis Madstone" had been applied by Mr. Pittman but the victim died of hydrophobia nonetheless. Madstone reistant rabies?

I possess a Mad Stone, it was

I possess a Mad Stone, it was handed down by my father (Robert Lee LeVan), through his mother (Ethel Clanton LeVan), her father (Robert Lee Clanton)before her and his father (William Lawson Clanton) before him and his father (Rufus K Clanton)before him.
My grandmother was well known for the Clanton Mad Stone, many Doctors in the area referred her stone over their methods. It works great after all these years. I use it mainly for bee stings and spider bites.

I will have to try to get one

I will have to try to get one if i shoot a deer this year.

Hi, T: The thing about a mad

Hi, T: The thing about a mad stone is that it is not supposed to be bought or sold. Doing so would negate its powers. So, what is a mad stone worth? It is priceless.
Best wishes—

Hey I seen your post and was

Hey I seen your post and was wondering what might a Madstone be worth?? My grandma has one, I belive the size of a golf ball,I know its a Madstone for sure and it has a journal of the people that it was used on and the dates. It was bought by my Grandpa at an auction several years back. He has passed now for 6 years and now my grandma is the owner. A person knows she has it and called today asking to buy it. do you know what it is worth??

I own a mad stone with

I own a mad stone with documentation and original instructions that my great, great, great grandfather aquired while working on a river boat in Tenn in 1900. It has not been used since the 40's, but before her death my grandmother clained she had seen it cure snake bites. It is dark brown, about 1.5 in by 1 in. by 1/4 in (cut on 4 of six sides) rough in texture and came in a pen nib box wrapped in linen. It does have the original instructions for use, a letter from my great grandmother describing the chain of custody and a news paper article from (I believe) 1953 describing the stone, its use and my grandmothers ownership of it.



I would really like to know

I would really like to know how comments under MY name got this far.They are true but NOT sent by me.

I have a Mad Stone The stone

I have a Mad Stone
The stone I have has been passed down 3 generations. Mother told me stories of it being used for a snake bite on my uncle and also for a rabies bite on a great great uncle. It's about the size of a nickel wrapped in very old newspaper in a small round container.