Earache, Onion Sure Cure for

September 1st, 2008

“The heart of an onion.” Roast the heart of an onion and put in the canal of the ear. Then apply heat to the outside of the ear and relief will soon be obtained.

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

Ingredients: Fennel

June 21st, 2008

We all know the pleasant taste of Fennel sauce when eaten with boiled mackerel. This culinary condiment is made with Sweet Fennel, cultivated in our kitchen gardens, and which is a variety of the wild Fennel growing commonly in England as the Finkel, especially in Cornwall and Devon, on chalky cliffs near the sea. It is then an aromatic plant of the umbelliferous order, but differing from the rest of its tribe in producing bright yellow flowers.

Botanically, it is the Anethum foeniculum, or “small fragrant hay” of the Romans, and the Marathron of the Greeks. The whole plant has a warm carminative taste, and the old Greeks esteemed it highly for promoting the secretion of milk in nursing mothers. Macer alleged that the use of Fennel was first taught to man by serpents. His classical lines on the subject when translated run thus:–

“By eating herb of Fennel, for the eyes
A cure for blindness had the serpent wise;
Man tried the plant; and, trusting that his sight
Might thus be healed, rejoiced to find him right.”

“Hac mansâ serpens oculos caligine purgat;
Indeque compertum est humanis posse mederi
Illum hominibus: atque experiendo probatum est.”

Pliny also asserts that the ophidia, when they cast their skins, have recourse to this plant for restoring their sight. Others have averred that serpents wax young again by eating of the herb; “Wherefore the use of it is very meet for aged folk.”

Fennel powder may be employed for making an eyewash: half-a-teaspoonful infused in a wineglassful of cold water, and decanted when clear. A former physician to the Emperor of Germany saw a monk cured by his tutor in nine days of a cataract by only applying the roots of Fennel with the decoction to his eyes.

In the Elizabethan age the herb was quoted as an emblem of flattery; and Lily wrote, “Little things catch light minds; and fancie is a worm that feedeth first upon Fennel.” Again, Milton says, in Paradise Lost, Book XI:–

“The savoury odour blown,
Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense
Than smell of sweetest Fennel.”

Shakespeare makes the sister of Laertes say to the King, in Hamlet, when wishing to prick the royal conscience, “There’s Fennel for you.” And Falstaff commends Poins thus, in Henry the Fourth, “He plays at quoits well, and eats conger, and Fennel.”

The Italians take blanched stalks of the cultivated Fennel (which they call Cartucci) as a salad; and in Germany its seeds are added to bread as a condiment, much as we put caraways in some of our cakes. The leaves are eaten raw with pickled fish to correct its oily indigestibility. Evelyn says the peeled stalks, soft and white, when “dressed like salery,” exercise a pleasant action conducive to sleep. Roman bakers put the herb under their loaves in the oven to make the bread taste agreeably.

Chemically, the cultivated Fennel plant furnishes a volatile aromatic oil, a fixed fatty principle, sugar, and some in the root; also a bitter resinous extract. It is an admirable corrective of flatulence; and yields an essential oil, of which from two to four drops taken on a lump of sugar will promptly relieve griping of the bowels with distension. Likewise a hot infusion, made by pouring half-a-pint of boiling water on a teaspoonful of the bruised seeds will comfort belly ache in the infant, if given in teaspoonful doses sweetened with sugar, and will prove an active remedy in promoting female monthly regularity, if taken at the periodical times, in doses of a wineglassful three times in the day. Gerard says, “The green leaves of the Fennel eaten, or the seed made into a ptisan, and drunk, do fill women’s brestes with milk; also the seed if drunk asswageath the wambling of the stomacke, and breaketh the winde.” The essential oil corresponds in composition to that of anise, but contains a special camphoraceous body of its own; whilst its vapour will cause the tears and the saliva to flow. A syrup prepared from the expressed juice was formerly given for chronic coughs.

W. Coles teaches in Nature’s Paradise, that “both the leaves, seeds, and roots, are much used in drinks and broths for those that are grown fat, to abate their unwieldinesse, and make them more gaunt and lank.” The ancient Greek name of the herb, Marathron, from maraino, to grow thin, probably embodied the same notion. “In warm climates,” said Matthiolus, “the stems are cut, and there exudes a resinous liquid, which is collected under the name of fennel gum.”

The Edinburgh Pharmacopoeia orders “Sweet Fennel seeds, combined with juniper berries and caraway seeds, for making with spirit of wine, the ‘compound spirit of juniper,’ which is noted for promoting a copious flow of urine in dropsy.” The bruised plant, if applied externally, will speedily relieve toothache or earache. This likewise proves of service as a poultice to resolve chronic swellings. Powdered Fennel is an ingredient in the modern laxative “compound liquorice powder” with senna. The flower, surrounded by its four leaves, is called in the South of England, “Devil in a bush.” An old proverb of ours, which is still believed in New England, says, that “Sowing Fennel is sowing sorrow.” A modern distilled water is now obtained from the cultivated plant, and dispensed by the druggist. The whole herb has been supposed to confer longevity, strength and courage. Longfellow wrote a poem about it to this effect.

The fine-leaved Hemlock Water Dropwort (Oenanthe Phellandrium), is the Water Fennel.

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

Earache, Fresh Warm Milk for

June 2nd, 2008

“The warm milk from a cow will cure earache and has also been known to cure deafness.” While still warm from the cow drop a little in the ear.

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

Earache, Castor Oil for

May 28th, 2008

“Put a drop of castor oil in the ear. Fill hot water bag and warm the ear that aches.”

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

Ingredients: Feverfew

May 17th, 2008

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

Ingredients: Caraway

April 10th, 2008

The common Caraway is a herb of the umbelliferous order found growing on many waste places in England, though not a true native of Great Britain. Its well-known aromatic seeds should be always at hand in the cupboard of every British housewife. The plant got its name from inhabiting Caria, a province of Asia Minor. It is now cultivated for commerce in Kent and Essex; and the essential oil distilled from the home grown fruit is preferred in this country. The medicinal properties of the Caraway are cordial and comforting to the stomach in colic and in flatulent indigestion; for which troubles a dose of from two to four drops of the essential oil of Caraway may be given on a lump of sugar, or in a teaspoonful of hot water.

For earache, in some districts the country people pound up the crumb of a loaf hot from the oven, together with a handful of bruised Caraway seeds; then wetting the whole with some spirit, they apply it to the affected part. The plant has been long naturalised in England, and was known here in Shakespeare’s time, who mentions it in the second part of Henry IV. thus: “Come, cousin Silence! we will eat a pippin of last year’s graffing, with a dish of Caraways; and then to bed!” The seeds grow numerously in the small flat flowers placed thickly together on each floral plateau, or umbel, and are best known to us in seed cake, and in Caraway comfits. They are really the dried fruit, and possess, when rubbed in a mortar, a warm aromatic taste, with a fragrant spicy smell. Caraway comfits consist of these fruits encrusted with white sugar; but why the wife of a comfit maker should be given to swearing, as Shakespeare avers, it is not easy to see. The young roots of Caraway plants may be sent to table like parsnips; they warm and stimulate a cold languid stomach. These mixed with milk and made into bread, formed the chara of Julius Caesar, eaten by the soldiers of Valerius. Chemically the volatile oil obtained from Caraway seeds consists of “carvol,” and a hydro-carbon, “carvene,” which is a sort of “camphor.” Dioscorides long ago advised the oil for pale-faced girls; and modern ladies have not disregarded the counsel.

From six pounds of the unbruised seeds, four ounces of the pure essential oil can be expressed. In Germany the peasants flavour their cheese, soups, and household bread — jager — with the Caraway; and this is not a modern custom, for an old Latin author says: Semina carui satis communiter adhibentur ad condiendum
panem; et rustica nostrates estant jusculum e pane, seminibus
carui, et cerevisâ coctum

The Russians and Germans make from Caraways a favourite liqueur “Kummel,” and the Germans add them as a flavouring condiment to their sawerkraut. In France Caraways enter into the composition of l’huile de Venus, and of other renowned cordials.

An ounce of the bruised seeds infused for six hours in a pint of cold water makes a good Caraway julep for infants, from one to three teaspoonfuls for a dose, It “consumeth winde, and is delightful to the stomack; the powdered seed put into a poultice taketh away blacke and blew spots of blows and bruises.” “The oil, or seeds of Caraway do sharpen vision, and promote the secretion of milk.” Therefore dimsighted men and nursing mothers may courageously indulge in seed cake!

The name Caraway comes from the Gaelic Caroh, a ship, because of the shape which the fruit takes. By cultivation the root becomes more succulent, and the fruit larger, whilst more oily, and therefore acquiring an increase of aromatic taste and odour. In Germany the seeds are given for hysterical affections, being finely powdered and mixed with ginger and salt to spread with butter on bread. As a draught for flatulent colic twenty grains of the powdered seeds may be taken with two teaspoonfuls of sugar in a wineglassful of hot water. Caraway-seed cake was formerly a standing institution at the feasts given by farmers to their labourers at the end of wheat sowing. But narcotic effects have been known to follow the chewing of Caraway seeds in a large quantity, such as three ounces at a time.

As regards its stock of honey the Caraway may be termed, like Uriah Heep, and in a double sense, “truly umbel.” The diminutive florets on its flat disk are so shallow that lepidopterous and hymenopterous insects, with their long proboses, stand no chance of getting a meal. They fare as poorly as the stork did in the fable, whom the fox invited to dinner served on a soup plate. As Sir John Lubbock has shown, out of fifty-five visitants to the Caraway plant for nectar, one moth, nine bees, twenty-one flies, and twenty-four miscellaneous midges constituted the dinner party.

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

The Ear

February 22nd, 2008

The structure of the outer ear has much to do in the making or marring of beauty. Small and finely formed ears are a sign of good breeding, but are comparatively rare, many of the ears we see having a distinctly animal appearance.

The duty of the outer ear is to collect sound, and in the lower animals, whose hearing is far more acute than that of man, the ear is larger, more simply formed, and is mobile. In some human beings it still retains these characteristics, but we cannot admire them, because the aristocratic type is in reality the highest outcome of evolution.

The air is collected and strikes upon the drum, making it vibrate. Its vibrations are conveyed by a tiny chain of bones to the nerve endings, which may be compared to the keys of a piano and which, when set in motion, convert air vibrations into nerve impressions, which we recognise as sound.

Deformities of the outer ear are often due to carelessness of nurses, the child being put to sleep with its ear doubled under it, or the bonnet or hat may be put on in such a way as to keep the outer ear in a bad position. In young children great care should be taken to see that the ear is in its proper place, and the hands may be placed on either side of the baby’s head, so as to hold the ears in position, several times during the day, if there is any tendency for them to fall forward. In older children, a cap specially constructed to keep the ears in place may be worn, and this, in some cases, has even been found serviceable for adults.

Deafness is becoming more and more common, and it is chiefly due, I think, to the carelessness of persons who expose the ears to strong currents of air, or remove wax from them by means of a hair-pin or other instrument. The drum of the ear, and, in fact, the whole auditory apparatus, is so extremely delicate as to be seriously injured by slight causes. The practice of cleaning out the ears with a fluffy towel after washing, or of wearing pieces of cotton wool in the ear, is also injurious, and apt to set up irritation.

The commonest cause of deafness is a mass of hardened wax which forms in the outer passage of the ear, and may even cause great pain by pressing upon the drum. This wax, in small quantities, is normally secreted and beneficial, but in old age it is apt to form a hard mass and also in cases where the ear is tampered with, or the person sits in a draught, deafness may often arise from its hardening. If there is deafness and a feeling of stoppage in the ear, there is no objection to remove the wax in the following way:–


Boracic acid — 2 drachms
Glycerine — 3 ounces
Water — 3 ounces

Warm some of this and drop it into the ear from a teaspoon, leave it there for a quarter of an hour by holding the head on the pillow on the opposite side, then repeat the treatment with the other ear. This should be done for three or four days following, and then if properly syringed the wax comes away. Use a rubber enema syringe with a tube at both ends, and the best vessel to use for the purpose is a large-sized baking dish, divided down the middle, with clean water on one side, the water after use to run from the ear in to the other side. The patient’s head should be held close over this, and the dish be held either by the patient herself or an assistant. The water should first be allowed to run from the syringe into the hollow of the outer ear, so that the patient may judge of the temperature, as it would be dangerous to use it too hot. It should then be injected in a steady stream into the canal, and the syringing may be continued for half an hour or more. The wax sometimes comes away in small pieces, or in a large plug ; if the latter, of course it is not necessary to syringe any more. There is often a feeling of deafness for some little time after the syringing, but this goes off, and leaves the hearing very much better next day.

It is necessary to perfect hearing that there should be a constant supply of air into the drum chamber of the ear. The drum or fine membrane shuts off the internal ear entirely from the external air, and on the inner side of this membrane air is
required. This is supplied through a little tube from one and a half to two inches long, which is situated at the side and back of the upper part of the throat, and opens into the portion of the throat that is called the pharynx or back of the mouth. It is called the Eustachian tube. During swallowing, this opening into the throat is fur a moment closed, and when the throat is swollen by inflammation or from cold, it is found that the hearing is much impaired.

When the hearing is impaired by trouble with the Eustachian tube, it may very often be improved by forcing air up the tube. This is done by doctors by means of what is called “Politzer’s bag,” but may be done by any person if a very deep breath be drawn, the mouth firmly closed, and the nostrils closed with the fingers. Then an effort should be made to breathe out, and as the nose and mouth are closed some of the air is forced up the tube. This may be repeated several times during the day, and it is notable that the hearing is better afterwards.

Any Discharge From The Ear should be the signal for a visit to an aurist or good medical man. It is a great mistake to attempt to stop discharges from the ear by using astringents or other means. A quack once used to advertise that he would stop discharge from the ear, and did so by means of wax plugs. By this means, many patients suffered severely, and one or two died of brain disease caused by an abscess burrowing into the brain.

Every care should be taken to free the ear from any discharge, which should be done by gently syringing with warm water containing a little glycerine. Plugs of wool should not be worn in the ear to stop discharge, which they would only retain and render more objectionable.

When there is discharge from the ear, there is generally rupture of the drum and impaired hearing. It most commonly takes place after scarlet fever, but sometimes the drum is ruptured through diving or other accident.

Ear-Ache May Be Soothed by the following application:–

Tincture of laudanum — 2 drachms
Olive oil — 2 drachms

Warm a little of this and moisten a piece of cotton wool with it, putting it gently into the ear.

Eczema of the Ear.—Sometimes there is a slight discharge in the external ear not due to abscess, but to eczema, and there may be cracks both in the auricle itself and behind the ear. For this the following application is most useful:–

Tar — 1/2 drachm
Carbonate of zinc — 1/2 drachm
Lanoline — 1/2 ounce

To be applied to the surface of the ear.

If the smell of the tar is offensive, the following application may be used instead:—

Beta-napthol — 5 grains
Oil of camomile — 5 drops
Oxide of zinc ointment — 1/2 ounce

In the case of widows who wear crape strings to their bonnets, I have known eczema to appear just behind the ears. In such cases, the strings should at once be given up, and white silk ribbon or lawn used instead. It is the dye of the crape which does the mischief.

Source: Home Notes, 1895