Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Calling Dr. Mom

So much is going on right now.  Many of us are at home attempting to do our regular 'mom' duties as well as, our paying jobs.  Added to that, we have become the first line of education and defense in health of our families. In a way, we've come full circle to our pioneer mothers.

In the rural life of the 19th  Century, women often had to use the knowledge of their mothers and their mother's mother to find the tried and tested ideas to keep their family healthy. Having a 'practicing' doctor in your town or village meant that you lived in an up and coming town. Mothers often passed down their 'nursing knowledge' in pieces of paper wedged in cookbooks or the family bible. Here are some of the prescriptions they might have used.

Sore  Throat - some recommended Dog Fennel boiled with lard or to gargle with salt water (I bet you've used that one at least once in your life time. Not the dog fennel but the salt water.)

Fever - Elderberry tea.

Upset stomach - dried peppermint ( I mean who doesn't know a granny who keeps an extra handful of peppermints in the bottom of her purse from every restaurant she's been in. )

Cough - boiled water flavored with cherry bark. ( think about that every time you go by cough syrup. Lots of them have a cherry flavor. )

Whooping cough - a feather dipped in turpentine and whisked around the back of the throat. ( honestly, I can remember my mother talking about having that done.  UCK )

Our family Bible has one scrawled in pencil. It's barely legible now after so many years. The Bible has been handed down in the family since 1820. It was for diphtheria. One had to find a recently hanged individual. Pry open the coffin and using the victim's left hand, hit the head of the infected person three times. ( Honest, its in there. I'm sure many died trying that one. )

Other  remedies were:

Stiff neck - use a pair of underdrawers that had been wore for at least two days and tied around the neck. (Yep that would work for social distancing )

Hernia - pass the child through a sapling that was split in the middle without touching hands of the person on the other side.

Another sore throat remedy was skunk oil - I stopped there. I didn't really want to know how it was made.

My grandfather in the early 1900's once paid twenty dollars for this one. He had terrible arthritis. He paid a man for a jar of tea. The tea, he later found out, was made from sheep dung dried in an oven and turned into tea. ( Our family still chuckles about that one  )

Have chest congestion - mustard plaster. It was judged successful by the number of blisters.

ear ache - a drop of laudanum which was a staple in every household for illness.

Toothache - pack it with salt to draw out the poison.

These were sure guaranteed to bring out the old saying; If you live through the cure, you might be saved.

Bottom line, we will get through this imposed social distancing. We can do it through humor both satirical and silly. We are a strong breed, we humans. And when we do, I hope we will take time to thank the defenders, those doctors, those nurses, those medical personal who have put their life on the line so we can keep carrying on. Hang in there, ladies. We are made of stern stuff.

Till next time,



Julie Lence said...

Oh my, none of those sound appealing, lol. Thanks, Nan!

Renaissance Women said...

There was actually a couple of books on treating illness that came out in the 1840s and some of the cures are in line with those in this post. Doris