Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Remedies

Following on from my blog about things we remember from the past which are no longer with us, this morning in the cafe three of us driking our hot chocolate, were talking about remedies from the past.

Of course before the NHS, unless one had medical insurance, all visits to the doctor had to be paid for.   But village doctors were rather like friends of the family.   If the farmer's mother sent for the doctor because any of her six were ill, they all used to do a bunk out into the field to escape from his ministrations.   He got wise to this and would always visit at bedtime to catch them.

Sitting in the cafe the three of us, W,C and I, talked about what we had to avoid a visit to the doctor.   My mother thought Friar's Balsam (don't ask me what it was) was the answer to everything - constipation, diarrhoea, stomach pains, sore throat, runny nose - the answer was a teaspoon of sugar with five drops of friar's balsam on it.   Tasted horrible but by golly you said you felt better in the morning otherwise you might get another spoonful.   And I am still here so it can't have been that bad.

C's mum used to dish out Indian Brandy (don't think it contained brandy and pretty sure it had never seen India either) as a cure-all and W's mum was a hot toddy mum (whisky, lemon juice, honey and hot water) - this is the farmer's cure all today.

My father always had Glauber's salts in hot water on Friday mornings before breakfast come what may, and the farmer's mum always had Fynnon salts.

In other words, we were all pretty good at treating ourselves for minor ailments.   Perhaps we should all do this again now.  It would certainly lessen the pressure on an overworked and under staffed National Health Service.

C suggested we all try hot lemonade and two paracetamol - I intend to try it next time I feel 'off colour'.

32 comments:

donna baker said...

Holistic practitioners now eat some kind of clay, maybe called bentonite? Also, the old tried and true apple cider vinegar in water daily, though it is a tough one to swallow. The latest craze is charcoal capsules. Absorbs the toxins they say. We always got the lemon and whiskey spoonfuls when coughing at night.

Derek Faulkner said...

I still have nightmares about being forced to swallow cod liver oil as a child, easily the most revolting thing ever invented. They used to dish it out at school as malt and cod liver oil, ugggh!

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

I just wonder how many people would call the doctor if they had to walk a mile or so to the phone box, as we had to do in those dark days before everyone had a phone in their pocket.

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Still think we are in a better world, I doubt you could treat cholera with a glass of dandelion and burdock and a violet throat pastille

meigancam01 said...

Great walk-through and I am delighted to read this article..thank you for sharing.!

Casey said...

Growing up as a kid of 70's and 80's in the US, my mother always talked of the hot totties she grew up with. But she wasn't so generous with them for her kids! Cough drops and chest rubs for us.

Rachel said...

I never go near a doctor. Once they get their hands on you they won't let go so I don't go in the first place. I treat everything with either an aspirin, a codeine, a dab of Savlon or an alka seltzer.

Heather said...

I can remember an ointment called Zambuk - I think it soothed chilblains. Then there were Beacham's Pills, Potter's Catarrh Pastilles, Gee's Linctus, Witch Hazel and Sedlitz Powders. I am not certain of some of those spellings or what they were all for.
Now I rely on Savlon, Paracetamol, TCP, lemon and honey for colds and boiled water for an upset stomach. Vick rub has taken the place of camphorated oil which was rubbed on chests to sooth a heavy cold.

Sol said...

a gargle with TCP if a sore throat. Vomiting, kaolin and morphine. cuts, TCP. Vick for everything else.

A Heron's View said...

Like Rachel I avoid doctors like the plague. Have found out that once they get their hands on a patient then they like nothing better than to pass them around the specialists even to the point of telling lies.
I prevent colds by taking Echinacea twice a day for 8 weeks in the late summer and back it up later on with Manuka honey into which 1 drop of pure essential oil of Thyme has been stirred. Take One a Teaspoonful every now and then.
For other problems I use Bach Flower or Homeopathic remedies plus Energy healing to flick off aches etc.
It does help having run a health shop & healing centre for a good number of years.

Rachel said...

Seeing as Heather has mentioned it I will too. We grew up with ZamBuk and I still get it by mail order from a company in Leeds. It is a bit like a comfort blanket nowadays, soothing and nice if I am missing mum etc. (sorry to disappoint some of you, but I really am human). I also use glycerin and rose water for chapped hands which is still sold in Boots.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

My mom used to make us put a tsp of vicks in our mouth and let it melt and run down our throat. Heaven help us if we swallowed the lump - we'd just get another to melt in our mouth. I fear my health has suffered from ingesting petroleum products as a child - that was a horrid, and dare I say, abusive practice. I tend toward natural cures now - often using gan-mao-ling pills as preventatives when I've been around people who are so willing to share their sickness with those around them. Local honey in tea or just in hot water will help those spring and summer allergies - such a relief to be done with them.

Countryside Tales said...

Beeswax and olive oil, honey and salt water are my cure-all's here. That and plenty of water to drink, warmth, healthy food and fresh air and exercise :o)

The Weaver of Grass said...

Amazing 'cures' here - hope there are more to come!

Magyar said...

__My grandmother came to the U.S., from Hungary through Ellis Island when she was 3 years old. When I was young, I remember she often tossed a >spice< into her mouth when she felt ill in some way. Cloves, she said, cured everything. Can you imagine chomping on a clove_? Well, she was 89 when she passed on, so something worked. _m

Midmarsh John said...

That brought to mind two ways frequently used for relieving nasal congestion:
Years ago the village doctor would recommend Karvol capsules. Put in bowl, cover with boiling water, towel over head and inhale the vapour.
Mother always swore by Vicks Vaporub. Plenty rubbed on the chest at bed time.

Joanne Noragon said...

My mother's go to was Vicks. On your chest, on your back, under your nose and sometimes even down your throat.

Coppa's girl said...

My mother was partial to dishing out California Syrup of Figs and swore by Cod Liver Oil. Not for herself of course - just for me. I gag at the thought of it even now !
Vicks seems to be the universal cold remedy, and a bowl of steaming water with a few drops of Friar's Balsam, then head covered with a towel, was supposed to ease nasal congestion.
Reading the various remedies, it's no wonder we are a hardy lot - if we can survive those, we can survive anything !

Gwil W said...

I also try to avoid doctors.

I sometimes put small sleeves over my wrists just where the pulse is, to keep them warm. Two pairs of socks. Spare slippers cooking on the radiator. Change them over every hour or so when the others get cold. A hot water bottle is a must for me in winter. And a hot toddy if I have a cold. Last resort is a red hot curry and a beer in the evening. That sweats it out. Side effect may include a sore bum ):(

Maria said...

My childhood memories were inhaling Vicks vapour in water. Vicks vapour rubbed on the chest. A warm homemade chicken broth to sip. A few cuddles and then to bed to sleep it off.
I remember the cod liver oil as well! Greetings Maria x

Jean Fleming-Kehler said...

I grew up with cod liver oil capsules. Didn't mind them. If sore muscles we used Absorbine Junior a.k.a. horse liniment. Saw a doctor once between the ages of birth and adulthood. My mother would tell him what was wrong and he would tell her what to do. Most of it never happening in the end. My husband was Mennonite and their go to thing was Wonder Oil. It smelled rather nice but had a warning not to take it internally. They all ignored that and put a few drops on a sugar cube and down it went. I use Vicks on the chest, throat and back as well as on the soles of my feet. When I use it on my throat I wrap a wool sock around my neck. Works like a charm. Of course there was the old mustard plaster. A mixture of dry mustard and flour made into a paste then rubbed on a piece of flannel and put on the chest. Guess the old ways stay with us.

Terry and Linda said...

Vicks capour rub is mine. A orange pop. And a steam tent.

Linda

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

We had Zambuk in Canada too. Also, my mom relied on Rawleigh's products. One was rubbed on your chest or up your nose if you had a cold / cough. It was like Vicks Vap-o-rub. My mom was also a true believer of lozenges. If you had a cut, ozynol (not sure if that is the spelling) was put on it with a Band-Aid. An electric heating pad did wonders for stomach-aches. -Jenn

Mac n' Janet said...

My Mother believed in castor oil for what ailed you and painted our tonsils with mercurochrome when we had a sore throat.

Frances said...

Many thanks to you, Weaver, and to all those folks who've already commented for lots of helpful advice, as the winter chill has now arrived in NYC. It was 11 F when I woke up this morning and the temperature had risen to 29 F when I got home from work this evening.

A bit deeper into the New Year, I hope to write a post about current medical insurance situations over here. Until then, my advice is do not get sick. Wash your hands. Try to get enough sleep.

xo

Robin Mac said...

Castor Oil was what my ,pther dished out - and believe me, that tastes worse than codliver oil! Vick vaporub also played a prominent role, I love the smell of it but I can't bear the feel of it on my skin now.
I am very grateful we had easy access to doctors when my boys were small, they were bot born lacking immunoglobulin A and would not have survived without all the wonderful antibiotics. Thankfully now they are in their forties they hardly ever go near a doctor.

Cro Magnon said...

I drink two teaspoons of Walnut Oil every morning.... I'm still here, so it's working!

Mary said...

I remember Owbridge's Lung Tonic - I loved it, and we used to take a swig from the bottle whenever a chesty cold or cough reared its ugly head in winter time!
We had no central heating and winters were so damp in Devon - slept under heavy wool blankets and always had a hot water bottle. I still do in winter here, although of course we have heat, but now it's turned colder so I'm off to heat the water up and fill mine as it's bedtime. . . . . I love it for my cold feet.
Hugs - Mary

Derek Faulkner said...

Blimey, I don't know about in our youth, some of these remedies sound like they've come from medieval times, I'm surprised some one has mentioned blood-letting and leeches, although I realise leeches are now sometimes used again. There are also maggots put on diseased flesh to eat it away.

One reason a lot of us have done so well into old age is the fact that when we were young we ingested various forms of dirt and bacteria through everyday life. We pulled radishes straight from the ground, wiped off some soil and ate them, apples straight off the tree, put our hands in our mouths regardless of what they'd been in, etc. etc. In that way our insides got used to and built up a natural resistance to harmful bacteria, not so today where everything has to be mega sterile and you have children growing up with all kinds of allegies becuase they have no natural resistance to germs.

Gwil W said...

Derek, I think there's more than a grain of truth in what you say regarding health issues of children reared in a clinical Mr. Sparkle environment. The only health health advice I remember was to make sure I wore clean underpants just in case I had an accident on the way to school and had to be taken to hospital. Not only that but I was allowed to walk to school and back by myself, a distance of 3 miles, at the age of 4. That's 15 miles a week. That bit of exercise was also beneficial. We were given a good scrub once a week with carbolic soap. And they checked our hair for nits. Today's children don't know what they're missing.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Such a lot of interest - and to comment on. Coppa's girl - the farmer was brought up on Syrup of Figs too. Derek and Gwil - this business of too much handwashing and thus avoiding too many bacteria is much promoted now. Also, walking to school - we never had transport, nor did the farmer, nor my son for that matter. I do agree that today's children may well be mollycoddled too much. And thanks Jean for reminding me of the old sock remedy - Vick on the chest and a warm sock round the neck - never failed! How I enjoyed reading all these old remedies - oh yes Gwil Carbolic soap once a week - I can smell it still. Thanks so much to you all.

Becca McCallum said...

I picked up a leaflet in the surgery the other day about antibiotics resistance. I think a large part of the problem is those antibacterial gel soaps that have become so common. By all means use them in a hospital or nursing home, but for most cases in the home simple soap and hot water will do.

I remember my old nursery school had large slabs of carbolic soap in the toilets. It was always stained different colours with the paint from the art activities. My skin had terrible reactions to it and it made my hands sore, chapped and bleeding.