Now, as an asthmatic myself, I don’t usually end up using a ton of home remedies but I do have some go-to ones I do use depending on the situation. For example, hot water, lemon juice and honey.
I’ve been singing for a long time and if I get sick and still need to sing for a play or a show, I drink tons of the concoction. You can also add tea to the mix but don’t add milk or it may curdle from the lemon juice. This remedy is a favourite of mine and I think it works for its simplicity. Lemon juice gives you a bit of vitamin C, honey soothes a sore throat and a little bit of steam from hot water is great to clear your nose.
Like I mentioned in my previous article, Simeon Perkins wrote down a lot of his remedies so that he had a record of whether they worked or not. When reading about old fashioned remedies we think of leaching or bleeding but there were a lot of other things people used too.
“I have some disorder in my ears they felt like what I used to feel when I had been swimming, & got water into my ears, makes me a little deaf. I put roasted onion into them last night.” – Sept. 18th, 1774
It kind of sounds like Perkins has a bit of an ear infection so he decides to put onion in his ears. This remedy clearly did not work because he reports almost two months later that he is still “considerably deaf.”
This of course is before the advent of antibiotics, so let’s not give Mr. Perkins a hard time. He also gets a lot of advice from doctors who recommend different dietary solutions to different ailments. Clearly some of these worked because Perkins lived from 1735 until 1812.
Perkins suffered from many issues from his foot, leg and hand. His leg/foot was an injury from falling on rocks but was also aggravated several times. His hand was injured several different ways, as he was a fairly active man. Many doctors recommended "poultices" which are essentially moist compresses to take down swelling. Perkins describes one such poultice as being made of "white bread and milk." He used one on his daughter Elizabeth that was made of radish and mustard when she had a severe head ache and was dizzy.
In one instance after injuring his hand, he describes a remedy where he places his hand in the "paunch of a fresh killed cow." That remedy he actually cites as having worked quite well.
Not all old remedies though are so extreme or strange. When Perkins' daughter Mary had a fever and what he describes as a "rickety complaint." A "rickety complaint" seems to have been a swelling of joints or soreness in joints and bones. I'm definitely not a health expert but I think we all know that ache we get with a bad fever. Mr. and Mrs. Perkins ended up giving her an ointment from the doctor but also plunged her into a well repeatedly, effectively cooling her down and breaking the fever.
"She is dipped nine times, we only dip her in, & directly out again, (not three times in one morning), the child bears the dipping to admiration," - May 17th, 1790.
Although our ancestors clearly had the right idea about many things such as medicinal herbs and about the value of good old fashioned bed rest (which so few of us seem to use now), I am definitely glad that I can take a spoonful of Buckley's when I'm