Web Page No 2180
27th July 2015
Top Picture: Wrights Coal Tar Inhaler
Middle Picture: 1950’s bottle of Iodine
Bottom Picture: The Nit Comb
I expect that all of us suffered, at home, with our mother’s odd, but well meaning, home or old family remedies. Believe me having a mother who once was an assistant Matron in a Children’s Hospital was no joke, every cough, pimple, cut or graze was always minutely examined!
I have put together a collection some of the most popular home medicines that seemed to be popular when we were kids. How many do you remember?
Let’s start at the top –Nits. The accepted treatment for this was oil of Sassafras, you may not remember the name but I think that I can guarantee that you will remember the terrible pungent smell that went with it. Of course don’t forget the fine toothed nit comb that went with it!
Ear ache was normally cured by pouring warmed oil into the ear. There were various types of oil favoured by different mothers. My normally used Olive Oil but Camphorated Oil of Liquid Paraffin was also used. One old country remedy which came from my godmother in Essex was to put a warm Spring Onion in the ear. As far as I can remember I was never made to suffer this treatment.
There were a myriad of cures for warts ranging from rubbing a toad on the wart to covering the wart with fresh meat for a day and then burying the meat and as the meat rotted so the wart would drop off. Something that, luckily, as a child I never had to undergo.
The treatments for colds varied from the rubbing on of goose grease to the inhalation of Menthol and Eucalyptus vapour. Neither of these do I remember but I do recollect my mother putting a Wrights Coal Tar Vaporiser in my bedroom overnight when I had a bad cold or sore throat.
One of the favourite remedies for back ache was a Belladonna Plaster. These were warmed and then strapped onto the back and stayed there until they fell off. Mustard Plasters and many other herbal remedies were very common for the treatment of back aches.
For infection a Bread and Milk Poultice was the answer. I remember someone telling me this tale. “When I was a young girl I stepped on a rake and it went almost through my foot. I was rushed to hospital where they cleaned and dressed the wound but did not give me a Tetanus injection as I had had one recently. I went to see the family doctor a couple of days later and it was discovered that I had blood poisoning half way up my leg. The doctor told me to soak my foot in hot water and to take Antibiotics. My grandmother happened to be visiting us at the time and she scalded some milk, put in a slice of white bread until it had absorbed all the milk, then put it on a cloth and applied the poultice to the wound. It drew out a lot of the infection each time we applied it and within a few days the blood poisoning was gone”. I understand that the same type of poultice was very good for treating boils.
One of the dreaded illnesses was diarrhoea and my mother’s cure for this was starvation, this was then steamed fish followed by Arrowroot to drink, it was terrible!
Some parents believed in prevention rather than cure so they regularly fed their children with odd ‘health giving’ mixtures. Once upon a castor oil was a staple in every medicine cabinet. For some reason, mothers used it as a cure-all for any sort of tummy ailment. In reality, the only condition castor oil was suitable to treat was constipation, and even in that case doctors tend to discourage its use, as the results are often unpredictable and can result in severe cramping and involuntary explosive bowel movements that last for hours.
Now who remembers Syrup of Figs and Brimstone (sulphur) and treacle and the many other strengthening medicines that parents inflicted on their children?
In the home First Aid Kit there was always Iodine which burned like fire when applied to an open wound; this was mainly because the tincture sold for home use had an alcohol base. The skull and crossbones on the label along with the word POISON in capital letters probably gives a clue as to why this old school remedy is rarely found in home first aid kits anymore.
Finally, in the days of our youth the most popular treatment for "lazy eye" was a pirate-style pink eye patch worn over the good eye for some considerable time. Thanks to new treatments like specialized lenses and eye drops, patching is used only in a small percentage of cases these days, so children suffering with this complaint today do not have to look like Long John Silver or Moshe Dayan.
Luckily things have moved on over the last few years and the use of these remedies has almost died out, BUT one thing that I am very grateful for is that I was never, ever treated by using leeches!
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News and Views:
On this day 27th July 1960-1965
On 27/07/1960 the number one single was Good Timin' - Jimmy Jones and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Rawhide (ITV) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 27/07/1961 the number one single was Temptation - Everly Brothers and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was No Hiding Place (AR) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 27/07/1962 the number one single was I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles and the number one album was West Side Story Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 27/07/1963 the number one single was Confessin' - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 27/07/1964 the number one single was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Conservative Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 27/07/1965 the number one single was Mr Tambourine Man - Byrds and the number one album was The Sound of Music Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.