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?