Old Time Remedies

The remedies our ancestors used -- or, at least, were told to use! Folk remedies, old wives' tales, mediaeval cures... they're all here.

NOTE: these remedies are listed only for information and/or amusement. They are not to be construed as medical advice of any type, nor are they recommended for use. Consult your doctor for any medical advice you require.

 

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Bronchitis Remedy and General Tonic

"Take small doses of glycerin and one teaspoonful three times a day of codfish oil." This remedy, though simple, is very effective. The glycerin and codfish oil are both soothing to the affected parts, and the codfish oil is a very good tonic to tone up the general system.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Saturday, 3 January 2009

Ingredients: Orchids

ORCHIDS.

Our common English Orchids are the "Early Purple," which is abundant in our woods and pastures; the "Meadow Orchis"; and the "Spotted Orchis" of our heaths and commons. Less frequent are the "Bee Orchis," the "Butterfly Orchis," "Lady's Tresses," and the "Tway blade."

Two roundish tubers form the root of an Orchid, and give its name to the plant from the Greek orchis, testicle. A nutritive starchy product named Salep, or Saloop, is prepared from the roots of the common Male Orchis, and its infusion or decoction was taken generally in this country as a beverage before the introduction of tea and coffee. Sassafras chips were sometimes added for giving the drink a flavour. Salep obtained from the tubers of foreign Orchids was specially esteemed; and even now that sold in Indian bazaars is so highly valued for its fine qualities that most extravagant prices are paid for it by wealthy Orientals. Also in Persia and Turkey it is in great repute for recruiting the exhausted vitality of aged, and enervated persons. In this country it may be purchased as a powder, but not readily miscible with water, so that many persons fail in making the decoction. The powder should be first stirred with a little spirit of wine: then the water should be added suddenly, and the mixture boiled. One dram by weight of the salep powder in a fluid dram and a half of the spirit, to half-a-pint of water, are the proper proportions. Sometimes amber, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger are added.

Dr. Lind, in the middle of the last century, strongly advised that ships, and soldiers on long marches, should be provided with Salep made into a paste or cake. This (with a little portable soup added) will allay hunger and thirst if made liquid. An ounce in two quarts of boiling water will sufficiently sustain a man for one day, being a combination of animal and vegetable foods. Among the early Romans the Orchis was often called "Satyrion," because it was thought to be the food of the Satyrs, exciting them to their sexual orgies. Hence the Orchis root became famous as all aphrodisiac medicine, and has been so described by all herbalists from the time of Dioscorides.

A tradition is ascribed to the English Orchis Mascula (early Purple), of which the leaves are usually marked with purple spots. It is said that these are stains of the precious blood which flowed from our Lord's body on the cross at Calvary, where this species of Orchis is reputed to have grown. Similarly in Cheshire, the plant bears the name of Gethsemane. This early Orchis is the "long Purples," mentioned by Shakespeare in Hamlet: and it is sometimes named "Dead men's fingers," from the pale colour, and the hand-like shape of its tubers.

"That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do 'dead men's fingers' call them."

It is further styled "Cain and Abel" and "Rams' horns," the odour being offensive, especially in the evening. It thrives wherever the wild hyacinth flourishes, and is believed by some to grow best where the earth below is rich in metal. Country people in Yorkshire call it "Crake feet," and in Kent "Keat legs," or "Neat legs." The roots of this Orchis abound with a glutinous sweetish juice, of which a Salep may be made which is quite equal to any brought from the Levant. The new root should be washed in hot water, and its thin brown skin rubbed off with a linen cloth. Having thus prepared a sufficient number of roots, the operator should spread them on a tin plate in a hot oven for eight or ten minutes, until they get to look horny, but without shrinking in size: and being then withdrawn, they may be dried with more gentle heat, or by exposure to the air. Their concocted juice can be employed with the same intentions and in the same complaints as gum arabic,--about which we read that not only has it served to sustain whole negro towns during a scarcity of other provisions, but the Arabs who collect it by the river Niger have nothing else to live upon for months together.

Salep is a most useful article of diet for those who suffer from chronic diarrhoea.

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Saturday, 4 October 2008

Ingredients: Buckthorn

The common Buckthorn grows in our woods and thickets, and used to be popularly known because of the purgative syrup made from its juice and berries. It bears dense branches of small green flowers, followed by the black berries, which purge violently. If gathered before they are ripe they furnish a yellow dye. When ripe, if mixed with gum arabic and lime water, they form the pigment called "Bladder Green." Until late in the present century-- O dura ilia messorum!--English rustics, when requiring an aperient dose for themselves or their children, had recourse to the syrup of Buckthorn. But its action was so severe, and attended with such painful gripings, that as time went on the medicine was discarded, and it is now employed in this respect almost exclusively by the cattle doctor. Dodoeus taught about Buckthorn berries: "They be not meet to be administered but to young and lusty people of the country, which do set more store of their money than their lives." The shrub grows chiefly on chalk, and near brooks. The name Buckthorn is from the German buxdorn, boxthorn, hartshorn. In Anglo-Saxon it was Heorot-bremble. It is also known as Waythorn, Rainberry Thorn, Highway Thorn and Rhineberries. Each of the berries contains four seeds: and the flesh of birds which eat thereof is said to be purgative. When the juice is given medicinally it causes a bad stomach-ache, with much dryness of the throat: for which reason Sydenham always ordered a basin of soup to be given after it. Chemically the active principle of the Buckthorn is "rhamno-cathartine." Likewise a milder kind of Buckthorn, which is much more useful as a Simple, grows freely in England, the Rhamnus frangula or so-called "black berry-bearing Alder," though this appellation is a mistake, because botanically the Alder never bears any berries. This black Buckthorn is a slender shrub, which occurs in our woods and thickets. The juice of its berries is aperient, without being irritating, and is well suited as a laxative for persons of delicate constitution. It possesses the merit of continuing to answer in smaller doses after the patient has become habituated to its use. The berry of the Rhamnus frangula may be known by its containing only two seeds. Country people give the bark boiled in ale for jaundice; and this bark is the black dogwood of gunpowder makers. Lately a certain aperient medicine has become highly popular with both doctors and patients in this country, the same being known as Cascara Sagrada. It is really an American Buckthorn, the Rhamnus Persiana, and it possesses no true advantage over our black Alder Buckthorn, though the bark of this latter must be used a year old, or it will cause griping. A fluid extract of the English mild Buckthorn, or of the American Cascara, is made by our leading druggists, of which from half to one teaspoonful may be given for a dose. This is likewise a tonic to the intestines, and is especially useful for relieving piles. Lozenges also of the Alder Buckthorn are dispensed under the name of "Aperient Fruit Lozenges;" one, or perhaps two, being taken for a dose as required.

There is a Sea Buckthorn, Hippophoe, which belongs to a different natural order, Eloeagnaceoe, a low shrubby tree, growing on sandhills and cliffs, and called also Sallowthorn. The fruit is made (in Tartary) into a pleasant jelly, because of its acid flavour, and used in the Gulf of Bothnia for concocting a fish sauce.

The name signifies "giving light to a horse," being conferred because of a supposed power to cure equine blindness; or it may mean "shining underneath," in allusion to the silvery underside of the leaf.

The old-fashioned Cathartic Buckthorn of our hedges and woods has spinous thorny branchlets, from which its name, Rhamnus, is thought to be derived, because the shrub is set with thorns like as the ram. At one time this Buckthorn was a botanical puzzle, even to Royalty, as the following lines assure us:--

"Hicum, peridicum; all clothed in green;
The King could not tell it, no more could the Queen;
So they sent to consult wise men from the East.
Who said it had horns, though it was not a beast."

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Jaundice, Lemon Juice for

"Take a tablespoonful of lemon juice several times a day." This disease is produced by congestion of the liver, and as lemon is excellent as a liver tonic it is known to be an excellent remedy for jaundice.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Friday, 12 September 2008

Drunkenness, Effective as Cure for

"Arsenious Acid 19 grains
Bromine Water sufficient
Tribromide of Gold 14 grains
Distilled Water sufficient

Ten drops of this solution for injection, which equals one thirty-second grain of gold tribromide." This is an active tonic, powerful sedative and destroys the appetite or cravings for alcoholic stimulants; the medicine is to be taken regularly four or five times a day for several weeks until the alcohol is out of the system even though he may appear cured. This is a good remedy, but should be given under the supervision of a doctor.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Stye, Home Method to Kill

"To hasten the pointing of a stye apply hot compresses for fifteen minutes every two hours. As ill health may be the cause, a tonic may be needed; glasses properly fitted should be worn and a boric acid eyewash used until long after the stye has disappeared." Applying hot compresses will relieve the congestion and gives much relief. Ill health produces a poor circulation of the blood and a good tonic will be found beneficial. Styes are frequently produced by need of glasses.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Friday, 4 July 2008

Blood Purifier, Another Effective Herb Remedy

"Pour boiling hot water on four ounces of gentian root with two ounces of dried orange peel, a sufficient amount of water should be used to exhaust the strength in the root and orange peel; then boil in a porcelain pot until there is left one-half pint of the concentrated infusion to every ounce of gentian root used. Then to every one-half pint add one half ounce alcohol. The effect of the alcohol is to coagulate it from a quantity of jelly looking substance which must be separated by straining. This is one of the best strengtheners of the human system. Dose: -- One teaspoonful in an ounce of water."

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Saturday, 17 May 2008

Ingredients: Feverfew

The Feverfew is one of the wild Chamomiles (Pyrethrum Parthenium), or Matricaria, so called because especially useful for motherhood. Its botanical names come from the Latin febrifugus, putting fever to flight, and parthenos, a virgin. The herb is a Composite plant, and grows in every hedgerow, with numerous small heads of yellow flowers, having outermost white rays, but with an upright stem; whereas that of the true garden Chamomile is procumbent. The whole plant has a pungent odour, and is particularly disliked by bees. A double variety is cultivated in gardens for ornamental purposes.

The herb Feverfew is strengthening to the stomach, preventing hysteria and promoting the monthly functions of women. It is much used by country mediciners, though insufficiently esteemed by the doctors of to-day.

In Devonshire the plant is known as "Bachelor's buttons," and at Torquay as "Flirtwort," being also sometimes spoken of as "Feathyfew," or "Featherfull."

Gerard says it may be used both in drinks, and bound on the wrists, as of singular virtue against the ague.

As "Feverfue," it was ordered, by the Magi of old, "to be pulled from the ground with the left hand, and the fevered patient's name must be spoken forth, and the herbarist must not look behind him." Country persons have long been accustomed to make curative uses of this herb very commonly, which grows abundantly throughout England. Its leaves are feathery and of a delicate green colour, being conspicuous even in mid-winter. Chemically, the Feverfew furnishes a blue volatile oil; containing a camphoraceous stearopten, and a liquid hydrocarbon, together with some tannin, and a bitter mucilage.

The essential oil is medicinally useful for correcting female irregularities, as well as for obviating cold indigestion. The herb is also known as "Maydeweed," because useful against hysterical distempers, to which young women are subject. Taken generally it is a positive tonic to the digestive and nervous systems. Our chemists make a medicinal tincture of Feverfew, the dose of which is from ten to twenty drops, with a spoonful of water, three times a day. This tincture, if dabbed oil the parts with a small sponge, will immediately relieve the pain and swelling caused by bites of insects or vermin. In the official guide to Switzerland directions are given
to take "a little powder of the plant called Pyrethrum roseum and make it into a paste with a few drops of spirit, then apply this to the hands and face, or any exposed part of the body, and let it dry: no mosquito or fly will then touch you." Or if two teaspoonfuls of the tincture are mixed with half a pint of cold water, and if all parts of the body likely to be exposed to the bites of insects are freely sponged therewith they will remain unassailed. Feverfew is manifestly the progenitor of the true Chamomilla (Anthemis nobilis), from which the highly useful Camomile "blows," so commonly employed in domestic medicine, are obtained, and its flowers, when dried, may be applied to the same purposes. An infusion of them made with boiling water and allowed to become cold, will allay any distressing sensitiveness to pain in a highly nervous subject, and will afford relief to the faceache or earache of a dyspeptic or rheumatic person. This Feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium), is best calculated to pacify those who are liable to sudden, spiteful, rude irascibility, of which they are conscious, but say they cannot help it, and to soothe fretful children. "Better is a dinner or such herbs, where love is; than a stalled ox, and hatred therewith."

Source: Herbal Simples Approved for Modern Uses of Cure, William Thomas Fernie

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Thursday, 17 April 2008

Painful Menstruation, a Good Tonic for

"This may be relieved by sitting over the steam of a strong decoction of tansy, wormwood, and yarrow, and fomenting the abdomen with the same. Then take the following in wineglassful doses:-- One ounce each of ground pine, southern wood, tansy, catnip and germander, simmering in two quarts of water down to three pints and pour boiling hot on one ounce of pennyroyal herb, strain when cold and take as per dose above."

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Thursday, 27 March 2008

Liver Complaint. Mandrake Root for

"Dry and powder the mandrake root (often called may-apple) and take about one teaspoonful." This dose may be repeated two or three times a day, according to the requirements of the case. This is a stimulant, a tonic and a laxative, and is especially good when the liver is in a torpid and inactive condition.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Saturday, 23 February 2008

Frequent Blinking

Frequent blinking, or twitching of the eyelids, is a nervous condition which must be treated through the general health, but a cantharides blister applied on an imaginary line drawn between the corner of the eye and the ear, and repeated at intervals of a few days, is of great service. Tonics, sea air, and cold bathing are advisable.

Source: Home Notes, 1895.

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Monday, 4 February 2008

Blood Purifier, Sassafras Tea, Known all over as

"Sassafras tea made from the root and boiled to extract the strength." Drink freely of this for a few days in the spring. It thins the blood, and is a good tonic.

Source: Mother's Remedies: Over One Thousand Tried and Tested Remidies from Mothers of the United States and Canada, T. J. Ritter

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Monday, 21 January 2008

Tonic Drink

Time, twenty-four hours.

A quarter of an ounce of camomile flowers; a quarter of an ounce of sliced gentian root; a quarter of an ounce of bruised columba; a quarter of an ounce of dried orange peel; fifty cloves bruised; a pint and a quarter of cold spring water.

Put these ingredients into a jug, and pour upon them rather more than a pint of cold spring water; let it stand twenty-four hours, then pour off the clear liquor. Take three tablespoonfuls for a dose, fasting every morning.

Source: Warne's Model Cookery and Housekeeping Book, Mary Jewry

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Friday, 4 January 2008

A Tonic

Mix one teaspoonful of powdered rhubarb with the same quantity of dried bicarbonate of soda, then add two teaspoonfuls of powdered calumba root. Dose, from ten to twenty grains as a tonic, after fevers, in all cases of debility and dyspepsia attended with acidity.

Source: Enquire Within Upon Everything

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Thursday, 3 January 2008

A Tonic and Stimulant

Dissolve one teaspoonful of extract of bark, and half a teaspoonful of gum arabic, in six ounces of water, and then add one ounce of syrup of marsh-mallow, and the same quantity of syrup of tolu. Dose, one tablespoonful every three hours. Use after fevers and catarrhs.

Source: Enquire Within Upon Everything

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