Ah the happy days! It is the month or half of France coughs, blows or searches for precious minutes of sleep to fill the fatigue. Worse still: these days when you feel you are sick, you certainly have a cold, but not enough to justify a call to your boss saying that you will be missing today.
Still, things could be worse. With all the research that has been done on the common cold over the years, modern treatments are still much more acceptable than some ancient remedies.
Here are 7 ancient remedies used to cure the common cold
1: Decoction of linseed, reason and licorice seeds
Mrs. Beeton had a recipe for all occasions, including the common cold. Here’s what you’ll need to prepare a cold remedy:
- A cup of flaxseed
- 125g of raisins
- A licorice stick
- 125g of sugar
- One tablespoon of rum
- A tablespoon of white wine vinegar
Flax seeds and raisins should be boiled in 2 liters of water with the sugar. Vinegar and rum will not be added to the remedy until the patient drinks it. According to Ms. Beeton, patients feel better within 2 or 3 days.
This may seem like a lot of effort, and you probably should prefer a more pleasant drink to sip when you feel bad. This is normal, there is nothing in this recipe that will hurt you, but it will not do you any good either
2. A warm flannel
“A flannel soaked in boiling water and watered with turpentine, placed on the chest as quickly as possible will help relieve the most severe cold or hoarseness of the voice.”
Another recipe from Mrs. Beeton: anyone with a greasy cough can put a warm washcloth covered with turpentine on the chest when she is in bed. This may seem a bit odd at first, but modern remedies for coughing often contain turpentine, along with pain relievers such as camphor oil or menthol. From this point of view, it is not without foundation.
You should still be careful with the warmth of the flannel. It is not very pleasant to have a cold, but even less if you get burned.
3. Opium and olive oil
John Wesley is best known for his religious works – he is one of the founders of Methodism – but he also wrote a medical book called “Primary Physics, or the easy and natural way to cure most diseases.” In this document, he proposes a recipe for the common cold, called “oil emulsion”.
- 180ml of salt water
- 2 drops of volatile aromatic spirit
- 30ml of Florence oil
- 15ml of sugar syrup.
He notes, however, that the mixture will work better if the volatile spirit is replaced by “The elixir paregoric of the dispensary of Edinhburg”. And it would work better, because this elixir is essentially a mixture of camphor and opium. However, you will not find many doctors willing to recommend this remedy these days.
Here are Medical Terms for Runny Nose
4. Juniper smoke
Many ancient Chinese cold remedies involved burning dried herbs. In John Gerard’s book on plants and their use (published in 1597), he suggests something quite similar: burning juniper gum, to cure the stuffy nose.
It is not by chance that this remedy is included in this list, as juniper oil is still used in some herbal medicines intended to be inhaled – this must be effective for the blocked nose – but inhaling Smoke may not be a good idea, especially if you already have a cough.
Back to the beginning of modern times in England, health was thought to be governed by 4 moods: blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile; or cold, hot, wet and dry respectively. One of these excess moods affects your personality but also your health. Blood has been associated with heat, so if you have temperature, it is obviously you have too much blood, and it needs to be pumped.
Yeah, using a leech on a patient’s skin, was supposed to relieve the symptoms. So saying, as the leeches aspirate the patient’s blood, they also purify it of the toxins. In fact, leeches are sometimes used in medicine, usually to cure skin grafts or other types of reconstructive surgery, because they secrete an anti-coagulant, but they will not help you in case Colds or sniffles.
6. White Bryone
Natural or herbal medicines are generally considered harmless, even if they do not completely cure the disease they are meant to fight. This remedy, however, is quite risky. In her book on herbal remedies, William Fernie recommends taking a white bryone tincture for cough and cold. White bryone is particularly toxic, while red (Bryonia dioica) has many medicinal uses, but it is usually used for purging. Whatever the color of your hair, you’d better avoid this.
If all else fails, it seems that historically doctors suggested drowning your misery in alcohol. In Dr. Buchan’s book, ” Family Medicine: Treaty on the Prevention and Cure of Diseases by Regimens and Simple Drugs “, he recommends drinking until you see double.
Unfortunately, alcohol does not really have magical healing powers, but at least it can make you feel better until the next morning…
A cold or flu can leave you in a physical and moral state close to zero. If you do not need to go out, you can try to drink a soothing hot drink. Better yet, if you’re really tired, ask someone to prepare it for you.
A hot and comforting drink can quickly help relieve symptoms of colds and flu.