My daughters and I have been passing around some sort of cold/flu/plague thing. It’s been so bad I even forgot this was my day to post! That NEVER happens. Anyway, here are some Regency cold remedies I posted a while ago.
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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.
What would Regency folk have done when they felt like I do?
One of my favorite period sources on medicine is 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…”
Amen to that one.
“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????
I hope everyone is feeling better than I am. If not, what do you rely on?
My Pennsylvania Dutch grandmother gave us a teaspoon of honey with whiskey and lemon. It worked, but a little whiskey probably had a lot to do with the feeling better part! Hope you all feel sparkly new soon!
That sounds like a pretty good remedy, Laura! I think I will try some of the krupnikas my brother made this holiday season. It’s a Lithuanian liquor made with honey and spices. It should soothe the sore throat. 🙂
My Native American grandmother swore by willow bark tea. And I do mean real willow bark, steeped to make a tea.
Feel better! And thanks for the reference recommendation. I have a gift card from my brother and his wife I am dying to spend!
Aw, Elena, I’m so sorry you are feeling so poorly!! There’s a lot of that going around, however. Nice post, at any rate! Many of the old remedies had some real basis in science. I think willow bark has some of the same properties as aspirin, for instance, so may be similar to the Peruvian bark to treat fevers? Always interesting! No old recipes or treatments in my family.
Lovely post, Elena, and Buchan’s remedies sound much nicer than the stuff you often find in folk medicine (remembers class on folk medicine she took umpteen years ago – grossing out your fellow students was an important point of each presentation 😉 )
I hope you’ll feel better soon! *sends massive amounts of cyber-tea*
PS: If it’s whooping cough, you might want to try a traditional remedy from the Fens: fried mice.
PPS: Or perhaps not.