Cures for Georgian Ailments – well perhaps!

desperate case
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Well, we thought we had heard it all, but seemingly not! We have come across a book from 1745 ‘The Accomplish’d Housewife; or the Gentlewoman’s Companion’  containing the most astounding cures for all illnesses.  Please, please, please do not try these at home; we really will not accept any responsibility for the consequences!

For a Sore Throat

Make a plaister  four inches broad, and so long as to reach from ear to ear, apply it warm to the throat, then bruise houseleek and press out the juice; add an equal quantity of honey, and a little burnt Allum; mix all together, and let the party soften take some on a liquorice stick.

For the Piles

Take Pompilion, flour of Brimstone and Oil of Elder, of each a sufficient quantity, and Mutton suet something more than any of the former, melt them together and anoint the part. If they are inward, cut a piece and put it up.

An Excellent Vomit

Take a quarter of a pound of clear Allum, beat it and sift it a fine as flour; divide it into three parts. Put a quarter of a pint of water into a saucepan and put the biggest paper of Allum in, and let it simmer over the fire, but not boil. Take it off and let it stand till it is blood-warm, drink it off, but take nothing after it, till it has worked once. You may walk about after it has work’d once. Take it three mornings together, or more if occasion requires, till the stomach is clear. This is a very good vomit in all cases.

To know if a child has worms

Take a piece of white lather, and prick it full of holes with a knife, rub it with wormwood and spread honest on it, shrew the Powder of Aloes on it, lay it on the child’s navel when he goes to bed; if he has worms, the plaister will stick, if he has not, it will fall.

To Cure the Cholick

Take the Powder of Yarrow, in a glass of warm wine, and it will give you ease immediately.

medical
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

An Opening Drink

Take Red-Sage, Liverwort, Horehound, Penny Royal, Hyssop, Maiden- hair, two handfuls of each, one pound of figs, one pound of raisins stoned, half a pound of blue currants, coriander seeds, aniseeds, liquorice, of each two ounces. Put all these in two gallons of Spring water, let it boil away two or three quarts, then strain it and when ‘tis cold put it in bottles. Drink half a pint in a morning and as much in the afternoon, keep warm and eat little.

To Stop Looseness

Take the conserve of marigold flowers about the bigness of a nutmeg for three nights; if it does not stop take it in the morning. Take a pound of marigold flowers to a pound and an half of sugar to make the conserve.

For a Looseness

Boil a handful of bramble-leaves in milk, sweeten it with Loaf sugar and drink it night and morning.

doctor
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

For the thrush in children’s mouths

Take a hot sea coal, and quench it in as much spring water as will cover the coal; wash it with this five or six times a day.

For fits of the mother

Take green walnuts and of rue one pound, one pound and a half of figs; bruise the rue and the walnuts, slice the figs into thin slices and lay them between the rue and the walnuts. Distill it off, bottle and keep it for your use. Take a spoonful or two when there is any appearance of a fit.

For the stone in the kidneys

Take oil of olives, two spoonfuls; Daffy’s Elixir four spoonfuls; liquid Laudanum three drops; oil of turpentine twenty drops. Mix them with sugar and take this dose at the beginning of the fit. 

To break a boil

Take some honey and wheat flour, and the yolk of a new laid egg; mix it well together and spread it on a rag and lay it on cold.

Chilblains

Roast a turnip very soft; beat it to mash and apply it as hot as you can bear it to the part affected. Let it lie on two or three days and repeat it two or three times.

doctor turned patient
Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

To procure an easy labour

Take half a pound of raisins of the  sun ston’d, half a pound of figs, four ounces of liquorice scrap’d and sliced; aniseeds bruised one spoonful; boil all these in two quarts of spring water till one pint is consum’d  then strain it out and drink a quarter of a pint of it morning and evening, six weeks before the time.

To procure a speedy delivery

Take of borax powder’d half a dram; mix it in a glass of white wine, some sugar and a little cinnamon water; if it does no good the first time, try it again two hours after, so likewise a third time.

To increase milk in nurses

Make a gruel with lentils, let the person drink freely of it, or boil them in posset drink, which they like best.

If our final offering cure works then we’re definitely going to practice our fainting skills!!

Faintings

May proceed from different causes as excess of joy or sorrow; sudden surprises, worms, stubborn heartburn etc and are always dangerous if they come often, without some apparent cause.  Sometimes they are occasioned by a fullness of blood. Those who are subject to them, and women especially  must carefully avoid all sorts of drams; for they afford but temporary relief and cause the distemper to return. Chocolate is much better for them as it will stay within them recruit their spirits and not burn their stomachs.

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6 thoughts on “Cures for Georgian Ailments – well perhaps!

  1. I hadn’t come across this one before – it’s great. If anyone is interested in some more Georgian recipes, I have about 1,000 more on my website – mostly from Thomas Fuller’s Pharmacopeia Extemporanea, published in 1710 and William Buchan’s Domestic Medicine published in 1769.
    http://www.pascalbonenfant.com/18c/medicine/pharmacopeia.html
    Also, the searchable database:
    http://www.pascalbonenfant.com/18c/medicine/search.php

    If I get a chance, I’ll add your Accomplish’d Housewife in as well. Thanks for the reference.

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  2. Interesting… Although not as scary as I had expected. Recipes containing dried fruits, herbs and spices might not help but they’re not likely to do serious harm. And although some of these contain more worrying ingredients, they’re not as bad as some of the cures offered by physicians at the time.

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    1. All Things Georgian

      Hi Lauriana, thank you so much for your reply and you are quite correct most of the recipes do contain fruits, herbs etc & may be perfectly safe to use. We may well write some that are more ‘scary’ in due course. 🙂

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    2. There are some scary recipes containing mercury which was not, at the time, recognised as a dangerous neurotoxin. From Buchan’s Domestic medicine:

      Mercurial Pill.

      Take of purified quicksilver and honey, each half an ounce. Rub them together in a mortar, till the globules of mercury are perfectly extinguished; then add, of Castile soap, two drachms, powdered liquorice, or crumbs of bread, a sufficient quantity to give the mass a proper consistence for pills.

      When stronger mercurial pills are wanted, the quantity of quicksilver may be doubled.

      The dose of these pills is different, according to the intention with which they are given. As an alterant, two or three may be taken daily. To raise a salivation four or five will be necessary.

      Equal parts of the above pill and powdered rhubarb made into a mass, with a sufficient quantity of simple syrup, will make a Mercurial purging Pill.

      Liked by 1 person

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