Yesterday I was talking with a patient who asked my advice on how to get her husband to take garlic for health reasons, although he didn't like the taste. I suggested that at night time she should rub the soles of his feet with raw garlic,which would then be absorbed into his system .Sounds quite silly, but it really does work and if there is any doubt about it's effectiveness, then the smell of garlic on the persons breath the next day will be proof enough.
It led me to wonder what favourite old wives remedies other people have ,that really work.
i have meant for som time to respond on this subject,but Christmas and the New Year intervened.
There is a most interesting essay titled "One Hundred Years of Treating Asthma"by Jennifer Worth.The writer is a retired nurse and midwife and the essay can be found at several links including www.billford.supanet.com/page13.html.
To quote,"In 1935 the year I was born,an asthmatic child from an asthmatic family,there were none of the modern drugs for asthma.I learned to cpoe from my mother[born 1914] and grandmother[born 1875] who had learned from her mother[born 1840]'.
Numerous remedies appear in the essay,some herbal.The use of a "steam tent"receives a paragraph.This I have seen in use back in the 1950's.A school friend suffered from bronchitis each winter and was popped into a "tent" with a steam kettle to which was added a small amount of Friar's Balsam [Compound Tincture of Benzoin].It seems to have done the trick,as she grew up to be a healthy and robust person.
On the original subject - I can confirm that dandelion sap does indeed kill verrucas. They go all black then fall off.
All the best for 2009 folks!
Re: old wives remedies
January 13 2009, 4:43 PM
I wish I knew some old wives tales, but neither my mother, nor grandmother used herbs medicinally at all.
One of the things I am interested in is the use of "steaming". This was a practice we suffered regularly every time we had a bad cold. The steam came from a bowl of bowling water in which a teaspoonful of "menthol and eucalyptus inhilation" purchased from the chemist had been placed. We had to bend over the bowl whilst sitting at the kitchen table with a tea towel around our head to keep in the steam. I hated every minute of it - I couldn't breath, bending over hurt my back, but it must have helped.
When I joined my current GP practice, I received a lecture from the GP about the benefits of steaming four times a day for an entire week. He told me that the Birmingham area was basically a marsh and that was why everyone suffered from conjestion and post nasal drip. I thought it incredibly sensible advice from a doctor and have repeated it religiously ever since.
The difficulty seems to come that actual steaming seems to have gone out of fashion in favour of the aromatherapy "aspirators" (not the correct word, but I can't think of the right one at the moment!). There is a lot of concern about burning your face from the steam, but we never had a problem as children and I steamed all my kids. In fact, when they were babies, I used to place a steaming bowl of menthol and eucalyptus under their cot so they couldn't tip it over. It was also useful when two of them developed whooping cough and we had to deal with the effects of that for the subsequent twelve months.
I've also stopped the onset of an asthma attack in a 6-year old by holding her upside down over a basin of steaming water with a tea towel over her head. (We were in a caravan in the middle of a festival and it seemed the best thing to do at the time!)
I love the idea of a steam tent giving you enough room to sit inside with a kettle. I wonder if anyone still makes one?
Old Wives remedies re steaming
January 13 2009, 10:37 PM
I used to keep Fancy Rats (a legacy from my daughter when she left University and got a job in London I might add) Charming creatures but very prone respiratory infections. One poor little mite was gasping for breath so I dripped a drop or two of Niaoli oil into hot water in the wash basin, covered the pair of us with a towel and held her there. She struggled for a few moments then settled down. After about 5 mins she had had enough and was breathing more easily. The next time it happened she settled down quite quickly for the usual 5 mins or so. Used on other little beasties always with success. Clever these animals, more sense than a lot of humans.
Old Wives Remedies
January 21 2009, 4:12 AM
Here is another article with a number of old wives remedies including the use of steam.How I originally came across it I have no idea!
Curious cures for odd ailments by Tim Warner.
It appeared in The Newark Advertiser:
January 21 2009, 10:00 AM
This thread encouraged me to look again at Old Wives Lore for Gardeners (Bodley Head 1976) a delightful little book with a mass of good sense which had long since escaped my mind.
I am prejudiced against steam baths, the matron at my prep school left me forgottten in a Friars Balsam tent for a couple of hours and, such were the Dickensian conditions of the place that I just sat there freezing, terrified of moving.
Hildegard von Bingen was a great one for the saunas and I have long suspected that rather more than parsley was steamed in them (Physica chapter 68 for instance). This, along with an ascetic life style, would account for all those visions.
Back to garlic
January 25 2009, 7:41 PM
I don't know where I heard it, but an Iranian tradition was to put lots of garlic into honey in a large jar when a male child was borm. It as buried, to be dug up on the man's fourtieth birthday and then used daily as a heart tonic.
Back to feet.. and tents..
January 27 2009, 5:24 PM
I used to work in a hospital and i remember a consultant advising me to tell my sister - the mother of a little boy who is prone to coughs - to rub Vick's vapo rub to his feet at night then put on socks. I assume it contains eucalyptus or camphor or something, and breathing the fumes would surely help a cough - but apperently it works better when rubbed in the feet rather than the chest! Strange.
And with regard to tents, i also remember my father talking about 'Friar's balsam' being used in tents for people with respiratory problems. Think there was some connection with tree bark, i could be wrong. While another generation back again, his aunt used to say that respiratory problems could be cured by 'rubbing a red flannel to your chest'. Which has always made me wonder about remedies including plants with red leaves or large red petals. Something to think about!
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