The Ladies' Tea Guild

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Home remedies for the common cold, ca. 1870.

Image from ClipartETC.

Aaargh!  With the changing weather -- the usual autumn winds, and unusual amounts of rain -- it's cold season again at The Cup That Cheers!  That means another seasonal foray into the antique domestic manuals and cookbooks for advice.  The following tips come from the Excelsior cook book and housekeeper’s aid, from 1870.  Beware the liberal use of paregoric (opium) and other dangerous ingredients!

If feverish, bathe the feet in warm water, take some hot herb tea, or hot lemonade, but use no spirits, as this will only increase the fever.  Get up a perspiration, and be careful about exposure the next day.

Take eight or ten drops of the balsam of copaiba and drop on a piece of loaf-sugar; take three times a day, morning, noon, and night.  Try a few days, and if it does good, it will effect a cure in a week.  Horse-radish, made into a tea and sweetened with honey or loaf-sugar is good; add a little vinegar.  Take a tea-spoonful occasionally.

Take half an ounce of gum-arabic, the same of liquorice, dissolve in warm water, squeeze the juice of a lemon; then add two drachms of paregoric, one of squills.  Put in a bottle and shake well.  Take a teaspoonful when the cough is troublesome.

Make a strong tea of everlasting, strain it, and to every quart add two ounces of liquorice-root, two of raisins, and boil half an hour; when taken up, add the juice of a lemon.  This is an excellent remedy for a tight cough.  If taken hot, care should be taken not to expose yourself after drinking it for a few hours.

Beat the yolk of an egg with a spoonful of sugar, pour boiling water on, and then stir in the white, beaten to a froth; add spice to suit the taste.  When a person has taken a violent cold, get them warm in bed and give this as hot as it can be taken, and it will often effect a cure.

Cut up a lemon and pour on boiling water; add a tea-cupful of lump-sugar.  This is an excellent drink for colds.

Take ripe strawberries, blackberries, or raspberries, and mix with vinegar in proportion of three quarts of berries to one of vinegar.  Let it remain two or three days, then strain the whole, and to each pint put a pound of white sugar, and bottle without corking tight.  This is a nice summer beverage to assuage thirst in fevers, colds, and inflammatory complaints; also for those in good health.  A large spoonful mixed with a tumbler of cold water.

Some of the above recipes could be useful -- especially the hot lemonade -- and the berry vinegar would be good for getting extra Vitamin C into your system.


Steph said...

I love these old remedies! Some of which I'm sure work well.

South Bay Ladies' Tea Guild said...

Yes, if you leave out the opium and other narcotics, the herbal cold remedies probably would provide some relief! The remedies that really astound me are the ones that are supposed to cure cancer, cholera, and other really serious diseases ...

Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)