I’ve had a bit of time this week. Just as I was getting over a bad cold, I fell down, and as many of you know, after a certain age, you don’t bounce like you used to. Long story short, I ended up with a badly sprained ankle. (Imagine a purple and blue ankle at least twice the size of a normal ankle.)
When I got home with my rapidly swelling ankle, I looked up what I was supposed to do to treat it and came up with RICE—Rest, Ice Compression and Elevation. I ended up doing RIE, because I didn’t have an Ace bandage for the C component.
Thankfully, I have lots of ice, but I started thinking about how people treated sprains and other maladies before ice was readily available. I discovered that if I sprained my ankle in the 19th century, I should take mud from a mud dauber nest, mix it with vinegar, place the mixture on my sprain and cover it with a stocking.
Here’s the thing–I do have remnant mud dauber nests on my house, but I couldn’t bring myself to try this. Why ruin a good nest when I have ice? But there was probably some science behind this cure, as there was behind a lot of 19th century medicine that did not involve superstitions such as tying knots in dishrags and burying them at midnight (my aunt’s cure for warts). I became curious and looked up a few more cures for common maladies, which I will list below:
Sore throat–rub outside of throat with a mixture of kerosene and butter.
Cuts–apply a spider web. Also, you can treat a cut by packing it with axle grease.
Rashes-treat with urine (I thought this was fascinating because urine is a form of acid which would burn like crazy. Ouch.)
Earache–blow tobacco smoke in the ear canal
Pneumonia–treat with a poultice of tansy weed
Dandruff–mix sulfur with water and apply to head daily
Lice–wash your head with kerosene
Poison ivy–treat with a paste of Fels Naptha soap. (I still use this stuff for laundry. It’s great.)
Bee sting–mix honey and mud from a mud dauber’s nest. (As a kid we used a paste of baking soda and water.)
Burns–put fresh calf manure in a flour sack and cover the burn for 24 hours.
There are so many more but I’ll leave you with these and ask what are some home remedies that you’ve heard of? Or used? I still put soda and water paste on my bee stings, but having read this, I may try honey and mud dauber nest the nest time I have a bad bee encounter.