The Remedies For What Ails Us...circa 1837

One of my treasures is a medical book which was written and published in 1837...designed as a guide for both medical people and for general use in a household, it makes for entertaining reading...I bought it ages ago at a car boot sale for a couple of pounds.

I looked up chest disorders and diseases today and decided very quickly we'd all be dead...if we hadn't expired from a regime of 'vigorous outdoor exercise followed by a cold bath' then we'd have died from eating nothing but thin soup and having six ounces of blood let from each arm daily...suffering from excessive phlegm?...no problem. You'd have been given 'extract of Hemlock and extract of Henbane mixed in sugared water and taken every four hours' Both Henbane and Hemlock are extremely toxic so if you survived the cold baths, blood-letting and vigorous exercise you'd have died from poisoning...

Coughs were thought to be caused by having cold feet...the solution was quite tame though...wrap the feet in warm flannel or take frequent hot mustard baths...much nicer than leeches methinks. Coughing naturally brought on 'constriction of the bowels'...bet you didn't know that...so then you'd need to take mercury pills to solve your constipation. Now, should your constipation not be relieved by taking the pills of mercury then your doctor might well have resorted to 'the insertion of a bougie, thirteen inches long by a skilful surgeon' and if that didn't work...then it was recommended 'to throw icy cold water upon the exposed belly and thighs'

By now you'd be a shadow of your former self I should think...what with the blood-letting and cold baths and a bougie thirteen inches long

You could have a fire in your bedroom, but the windows had to be opened wide in all weathers...

Could be the Seretide you take doesn't live up to your expectations...maybe you're fed up to the back teeth with being tethered to an oxygen tank...perhaps your Doctor isn't terribly sympathetic...have a think about those people who lived in 1837 who had icy cold water tipped over their nether regions or were encouraged to take vigorous outdoor exercise...and were fed on a diet of thin gruel and had to sleep in a bedroom with all the windows open after having fat black leeches sucking their blood and the prospect of the insertion of the bougie before bedtime...!

21 Replies

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  • It doesn't bare thinking about, despite all we are lucky to be living in this day and age.

  • Wonder what will be said about our medicine in a hundred odd years time?

  • Now that would be very interesting,hopefully there will be miracles for all the terrible ailments that are out there today.

  • On top form as usual Vashti, enjoyed reading it. On a serious side I feel so lucky to have lived over 20 years years longer so far than either of my parents. My mother of breast cancer and my dad of thrombosis.The cure rates in our generation keep people alive for so much longer despite the side effects the drugs may have. Have a good day , x Joyce

  • I do know what you mean Joyce...we have the side effects but better to live with them than die too young...

  • Love your essays vashti dont think I would like to live in that era though! Merry christmas.

  • It'd be the leeches that'd get to me...can't imagine anything more horrible! Merry Christmas to you as well!

  • Morning Vashti, amazing information, Thank God for modern medicine even tho some of them can have unpleasant side effects. When I was a child in the war years there was an Open Air school, the patients were all children suffering from TB, they slept on verandas even in the winter,there beds were covered in frost every morning, I always wonder if the treatment worked. Have a good day, best wishes, Bulpit

  • I've read about those open air schools...wouldn't you want to gather all those children up and wrap them in warm blankets and give them hot water bottles!

  • I feel better already :)

  • I did after I'd written it...wondered what I was complaining about...lol

  • and i complain about the treatments we have today!! puts it into perspective somewhat! Xx

  • Doesn't it just!

  • Read this just before snuggling down for the night. Laughed so much woke up hubby. Asked him if he fancied a boogie woogie night! Now I have to find out where to get one.

    Love Dozy x

  • You can buy them on-line...honestly...I looked them up and they are plastic now and used for if you have to be incubated...but I couldn't get the original use out of my head!!

  • I think Pete in particular would prefer to stick with the times we are in now and not go back to 1837. Sounds truly awful but I am wondering if bowel constriction is why Pete suffers with IBS sometimes. Who knows but it could be.

    Enjoyed all the tales vashti and hope there are lots more to come. We should all be thankful for modern medicines. Take care. xxxx

  • I rather think your Pete might object if you approached his rear end with a thirteen inch long stick...on the other hand, maybe he wouldn't!

  • :) :) xx

  • Lol...this should be demonstrated on Embarrassing Bodies - maybe we'd learn to love the NHS more! :D

  • I wouldn't be the first in line in a demo...wouldn't object to trying the opium they used to dole out though...lol

  • I,lol stick with my Seretide taa :D

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