October 27, 2008

Home remedies for cold and flu season

In the days before pharmaceuticals, remedies involving food and herbs were often used to augment medical treatments like bleeding and cupping. Many common ailments were treated with prescriptions of lager and port.

In a letter from Elizabeth Johnson Brown to Anne Sophia Penn Chew, she includes her recipe for Onion Syrup, which appears to have been used for respiratory illnesses:

"Tell Mary in making the Onion Syrup to take 4 or 5 onions, pare & slice them, place them between two deep soup plates, alternately a layer of onions, & a light layer of Brown Sugar, and place it on the end of the range; the syrup will gradually ooze out, it is to be taken from the plate by the teaspoonful, and a couple of tea-spoonfuls given about every hour or two....and bathe the breast with Goose grease that has a few drops of Turpentine in it...." [n.d.]

This is just one of a few home remedies used by the Chews. Others include rhubarb tincture (for digestion), rabbit fat (for swelling), and molasses (for sore nipples).

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