Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Regency medicine was worrisome at best, dangerous at worst. It’s a wonder our dashing heroes and beautiful heroines managed to stay alive, especially if they made use of some popular remedies from the era.
Let’s peer into the apothecary’s workroom, and see what sort of cures he might be dishing out. Some are similar to things used today and some…well, are just plain strange.
For a headache: This unpleasant pain may be prevented by wearing the hair short, and by washing the head daily with cold water; then rub the hair dry, and expose it to the air.
For a fever: Boil three ounces of currants, two of raisins carefully stoned, and an ounce and a half of tamarinds, in three pints of water, till it is reduced to a quart, strain it, throw in a bit of lemon-peel, and let it stand an hour.
For a sore throat: Soak in water a small piece of bread and mix it with a pinch of cayenne pepper; roll it up in the form of a pill and swallow it. Usually in three hours the patient will be relieved of all pain. In aggravated cases, a second dose may be requisite.
For a sprained ankle: Shower a sprained ankle with hot water, poured from a height of three feet. It will be cured in an hour.
For a nosebleed: Snuff up the nose vinegar or ice water.
For a toothache: A drop of oil of peppermint applied to the cavity of an aching tooth, and confined there with a pellet of cotton, will arrest the pain.
For a wound: Without waiting for it to stop bleeding, press the edges of the lacerated flesh together, and apply immediately a plaster made of soot and cream, binding it firmly on. This is not to be removed till healed.
For a burn: Nothing is more soothing than the white of an egg, which may be poured over the wound. It is the contact with the air which gives the extreme discomfort experienced from the ordinary accident of this kind, and anything which excludes the air and prevents inflammation is the thing to be applied.
For bruises: The best treatment of bruises is the application of water, of such temperature as is most agreeable. The degree of temperature varies with the temperature of the weather and the vigor of the circulation. In a hot day, use cool or cold water. If the circulation is low, use warm water. The bruised parts may be immersed in a pail of water, and gently pressed or manipulated with the hand or soft cloth for ten minutes, or even longer in severe cases. Then wrap up the parts in cloths wet with cold water, and keep quiet. This treatment keeps down the inflammation, and in nine cases out of ten proves a speedy cure.
And last but not least,
For insomnia: On retiring to bed, eat three or four small onions.
So there you have it. After reading and researching this topic, I’m certainly glad I live in the 21st century and don’t have to resort to drastic measures like these. I wonder how many of them did any good and how many actually made the problem worse. Oh, my poor characters!