Snake Root, Bloodletting and Winners!

I’ve been sick most of this week and Behind on Everything, so I thought I’d recycle this post from a few years ago. Old but still apropos.

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“People do not die of little trifling colds.”

But what Mrs. Bennett didn’t say is sometimes it feels like you could.

I’m so annoyed. The kids have just gone back to school and this was supposed to be my chance to reconnect with my writing. Instead, I’m battling a stuffy nose, the plugged ears, chest congestion, cough and interrupted sleep. Despite the vaporizer fogging our upstairs with eucalyptus steam and a full complement of medicines, traditional and herbal, I am just barely functional when I wanted to be blazing into the new story. It’s so not fair!

Anyway, I thought I’d check out one of my period sources on medicine. It’s DOMESTIC MEDICINE, by William Buchan, first published in 1769 with 18 subsequent editions. Buchan was pretty forward-thinking about general health and prevention and many of his suggestions are far less kooky than those of his counterparts (though that’s not saying much!) I think of it as the sort of book my heroines might have owned and used to help keep their families healthy during the happily-ever-after.

Anyway, here are some suggestions:

“THE patient ought to lie longer than usual a-bed…”

Please, Dr. Buchan, tell that to my kids!

“A SYRUP made of equal parts of lemon-juice, honey, and sugar-candy, is likewise very proper in this kind of cough. A table-spoonful of it may be taken at pleasure.”

This sounds very nice.

“If the pulse therefore be hard and frequent, the skin hot and dry, and the patient complains of his head or breast, it will be necessary to bleed, and to give the cooling powders recommended in the scarlet fever, every three or four hours, till they give a stool.”

I checked some of the recommended medications, and they include “Peruvian bark” and “snake root”. Googling these exotic terms, I learned that Peruvian Bark is also called cinchona bark, and can still be used to treat fevers. Seneca Snake Root has expectorant properties. OK, so far, Dr. Buchan is not so dumb.

However, I don’t think my medicine cabinet contains any Peruvian Bark or Snake Root…

And the bleeding I could definitely do without!

Here’s another tidbit.

“MANY attempt to cure a cold by getting drunk. But this, to say no worse of it, is a very hazardous experiment.”

Aw, I’m willing to try it at this point. It couldn’t make me feel any worse, could it????

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I’m still not up for bloodletting, but I am grateful for: Advil Cold & Sinus, echinacea and green tea. As a bonus, this week I watched Northanger Abbey (the delightful 2007 version) with my older daughter, who was also sick and off school for a day. I’d been promising her this ever since we read the book together, and it certainly made us both feel better!

How do you comfort yourself through a cold?

And congratulations to the following winners of a Kindle or Nook copy of SAVING LORD VERWOOD. Please send your email address, and if you wish, the email address of a friend who might enjoy a copy, to elena @ (no spaces). Also, please be sure to let me know if you want Nook or Kindle.

Maria D


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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10 years ago

Sorry to hear you’re not well, Elena, colds and flu are horrible.

Congrats to all the winners. I finally got round to reading The Redwyck Charm (not enough hours in the day) and I’m so glad I did, I really liked it.

I’m off now to put the other books in the trilogy on my wishlist.

Get well soon!

Elena Greene
10 years ago

Thanks, Beebs, I’m feeling much better. Glad you enjoyed TRC. It was a very fun book to write. 🙂

Beth Elliott
10 years ago

Glad you’re feeling better, Elena. The thought of blood-letting would frighten me better at once! My own grandfather had Victorian remedies for colds – mustard footbaths and gosegrease applied to the chest. We always laughed at him and never tried them…

Elena Greene
10 years ago

Beth, those Victorian remedies don’t sound too fun either. I’ll stick with tea and Jane Austen films, thanks!

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

I had a cold before Christmas, Elena. Not Fun.
Hope you feel better very soon.