I have a cold. In 2010, I have the benefit of knowing that my cold is a virus that will go away in about 10 days with or without intervention. I also know I can take certain medications that will at least alleviate my symptoms — any of three or four painkillers to make the headache go away, for example. Decongestants to take away the stuffiness. I can take my temperature and know how loudly I can whine about feeling unwell.

What if it were 1810?

Well, there’s this from my 1815 New Family Receipt Book:

569. Easy and almost instantaneous Cure for the Ague.

When the fit is on, take a new-laid egg, in a glass of brandy and go to bed immediately.
This very simple recipe has cured a great many after more celebrated preparations have proved unsuccessful.

Our new chickens should be laying in the next month or so. I can see this remedy working pretty well. In fact, I suspect that if you omit the egg and double the dose of brandy, you’d be just fine.

For when I’m whining too much about how awful I feel:

546. German Method of preventing Hysterics.
Caraway seeds, finely pounded, with a small proportion of ginger and salt, spread upon bread and butter, and eaten every day, especially early in the morning, and at night, before going to bed, are successfully used in Germany, as a domestic remedy against hysterics.

Too bad I can’t remember if I like caraway.

For that cough:

598. A Receipt for a Cough
Take a glass of spring water and put it into a spoonful of syrup of horehound, and mix with it nine or ten drops of the spirit of sulphur.

I was with that all the way up until the spirit of sulphur.

There you go. Curing the common cold from two centuries ago. All in all, I think I’m glad it’s 2010. And now I’m going to lie down on the fainting couch and pray I feel better soon.  Where IS the brandy?

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Beth Elliott
12 years ago

With such remedies, no wonder they died so much of ‘inflammation of the lungs’ back then. But that book is just one person’s knowledge. My grandmother’s grandmother grew up in Regency England [in Lancashire]. One recipe for colds she handed down was blackcurrant tea – just a spoonful of ‘preserved blackcurrants’ in hot water. It was soothing and there was no need of spirits of sulphur.
Hope you get over your cold soon, Carolyn.

Megan Frampton
12 years ago

You have had non-stop colds, Carolyn! I hope you feel better soon. I like steeping ginger in water and adding honey to soothe–well, everything.

Jane George
12 years ago

Heh, a good case of hysterics would be pretty cathartic right about now.

12 years ago

Thank you everyone. Am feeling marginally better, but now son is home ill.


Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Awwww, hope you and the lad are better soon!
FWIW, I can remember when I was sick, my mother giving me a teaspoon of sugar soaked in bourbon, rather like the brandy cure you mentioned. Even now when I smell bourbon it brings back the memory.

Honey has medicinal properties. As does chicken soup, but don’t tell that chicken of yours!

Janet Mullany
12 years ago

take a new-laid egg, in a glass of brandy and go to bed immediately. What do you do with the egg in bed? Sounds perverted to me.

Feel better, Carolyn!

Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

The whole egg???

I can see where brandy could make many things feel better though. 🙂 Get well soon!

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

ROFLMAO at Janet! Only she would take a cure for the cold and turn it into something naughty!

Feel better, Carolyn. I too have been suffering from some sort of horrible upper respiratory infection – sore throat, coughing, sneezing, stuffy head.

I have definitely been doing the chicken soup cure, but no sulphur for me, thank you!!

Honey in my earl gray is about as far as I will go. Lying on the fainting couch whining sounds lovely, but you can only miss work at Wal-Mart if you are dead and have put in for death two weeks ahead of time.

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