Thieves’ Vinegar

July 22nd, 2017

Take a large handful of lavender blossoms, and the same quantity of sage, mint, rue, wormwood and rosemary. Chop and mix them well. Put them into a jar, with half an ounce of camphor that has been dissolved in a little alcohol, and pour in three quarts of strong clear vinegar. Keep the jar for two or three weeks in the hot sun, and at night plunge it into a box of heated sand. Afterwards strain and bottle the liquid, putting into each bottle a clove of garlic sliced. To have it very clear, after it has been bottled for a week, you should pour it off carefully from the sediment, and filter it through blotting paper. Then wash the bottles, and return the vinegar to them. It should be kept very tightly corked. It is used for sprinkling about in sick-rooms; and also in close damp oppressive weather. Inhaling the odour from a small bottle will frequently prevent faintness in a crowd.

It is best to make it in June.

This vinegar is so called from an old tradition, that during the prevalence of the plague in London the composition was invented by four thieves, who found it a preservative from contagion; and were by that means enabled to remain in the city and exercise their profession to great advantage, after most of the inhabitants had fled.

Source: Directions for Cookery, in its Various Branches, Eliza Leslie

Draughts for the Feet

November 8th, 2015

Take a large leaf from the horse-radish plant, and cut out the hard fibres that run through the leaf; place it on a hot shovel for a moment to soften it, fold it, and fasten it closely in the hollow of the foot by a cloth bandage.

Burdock leaves, cabbage leaves, and mullein leaves, are used in the same manner, to alleviate pain and promote perspiration.

Garlics are also made for draughts by pounding them, placing them on a hot tin plate for a moment to sweat them, and binding them closely to the hollow of the foot by a cloth bandage.

Draughts of onions, for infants, are made by roasting onions in hot ashes, and, when they are quite soft, peeling off the outside, mashing them, and applying them on a cloth as usual.

Source: The White House Cookbook, F.L. Gillette

News: 1,000-year-old onion and garlic eye remedy kills MRSA

March 30th, 2015

The BBC report that a medieval eye remedy has been found to almost completely eradicate MRSA – equal parts of onion and another allium (garlic or leek), chopped and crushed in a mortar, then mixed with a small amount of English wine and some bovine salts.

News: Home remedies passed down through generations

February 8th, 2008

“Home remedies: We asked, and you answered.

It seems every family has one or two favorites. Many of them incorporate vinegar, salt, whiskey, Vicks VapoRub or honey. Some have been passed down for generations.”

Full story: Utica Observer-Dispatch, 7th February 2008

Leprosy

January 27th, 2008

Universally this evil hath much tokens and signs. In them the flesh is notably corrupt, the shape is changed, the eyen become round, the eyelids are revelled, the sight sparkleth, the nostrils are straited and revelled and shrunk. The voice is hoarse, swelling groweth in the body, and many small botches and whelks hard and round, in the legs and in the utter parts; feeling is somedeal taken away. The nails are boystous and bunchy, the fingers shrink and crook, the breath is corrupt, and oft whole men are infected with the stench thereof. The flesh and skin is fatty, insomuch that they may throw water thereon, and it is not the more wet, but the water slides off, as it were off a wet hide. Also in the body be diverse specks, now red, now black, now wan, now pale. The tokens of leprosy be most seen in the utter parts, as in the feet, legs, and face; and namely in wasting and minishing of the brawns of the body.

To heal or to hide leprosy, best is a red adder with a white womb, if the venom be away, and the tail and the head smitten off, and the body sod with leeks, if it be oft taken and eaten. And this medicine helpeth in many evils; as appeareth by the blind man, to whom his wife gave an adder with garlick instead of an eel, that it might slay him, and he ate it, and after that by much sweat, he recovered his sight again.

Source: Mediaeval Lore from Bartholomew Anglicus, Robert Steele

News: Culinary curatives for chills, sniffles

January 24th, 2008

“Feeling achy and feverish? Have a bowl of Mom’s tom yum soup. Or maybe some warm milk with melted lamb fat.

Chicken soup may be the all-American cold and flu panacea, but around the world people turn to all manner of culinary curatives for the chills and sniffles.”

Full story: London Free Press (Canada), 23rd January 2008