My own memories of being unwell as a child, are of course hazy, but I do remember my Mom always being very attentive, caring, and assured on just what to do! As I was sitting down writing a rough draft for this post I got thinking about when my own children were little, (in the late 1970’s early 1980’s), and got ill with a bad cough, how my Mom told me to just go to the pharmacy and ask the druggist for a bottle of Paregoric , sign for it, and it would do the trick. So, off I went to the druggist and asked for the Paregoric. He looked at me a little strangely and said he couldn’t give out that particular medicine anymore without a prescription as it contained Opium! It seems some of the first herbal medicines I was given as a little one was Paregoric which contains opium, anise oil, and camphor as it’s herbs:) I imagine it quiet my cough nicely:) lol! So a bit of herbal remedies there.
I do remember our family doctor, Dr. Edwin Baker, coming and staying at our home and using a croup tent with me when I was ill with the croup. We lived out in the country and to think that back then our doctor was so dedicated as to do house calls and actually stay with me until he brought me relief.. well, truthfully, I get misty eyed thinking of Dr. Baker. He was our doctor until I was ready to deliver my first baby. I was so disappointed he had given up delivering just that year! Anyway, the smell of menthol or camphor,( I don’t know which for sure he used and their smells are similar and I was so young), still remind me of this dear dedicated doctor!
Good old black salve, was used to help us if we sprain our ankle or other things. Used on us and the critters! It did have Eucalyptus oil and rosin in it, so a bit more herbally type of things were used to treat us
Of course, like most folks my age, Vicks Vaporub was slathered on both front and back of my lungs during colds. I especially remember this as I was swaddled in old clean cloth baby diapers and mom used a big diaper pin with a duck on it to secure it!
The ingredients in Vicks are Camphor and Menthol , which both help suppress coughs and are analgesic, Eucalyptol which suppress coughs, Cedar leaf oil, Nutmeg oil, and Thymol (which is antimicrobial and antiseptic). Again, lots of plant goodness, just not so cool with the petroleum base it was delivered in!
Another memory is of sickness that caused vomiting. The remedy for that, (besides I assume a few drops of Paregoric, lol), was cola syrup poured over chipped ice and ate with a spoon.
I wish my Mom was still with me. She would adore all the herbal explorations I am doing now. She loved to read and learn about home remedies! One of my favorite memories is of the time my dad got a horrible sunburn on his legs. Dad’s legs were lily white and he had on shorts and was bent down working on a reflective surface all afternoon and got a horrible sunburn. Well Mom had read that wrapping a bad sunburn would help it go away. Dad submitted to her wrapping his legs up in linen and the next day when she unwrapped them… they looked black! Holy Cow! But you know what? They healed just fine! lol! When my brothers and I got sunburns on our backs and faces during the summer, we went around smelling like a salad as vinegar was her favorite treatment for use on us.
Another fond memory is of her favorite saying when we came running in crying with little minor injuries, “It’s a long way from your heart, so calm down!” lol! Said with love, but in that tone that calmed down our hysterics instantly:)
So whereas I can’t remember any homegrown or foraged remedies, I do remember lots of love, tender administrations, and feeling that my Mom could handle anything that might happen! It has been fun to look up the ingredients for some of the remedies she used and see that there was a bit of herbal magic included:)
Herbal and Honey Hugs to all who visit Comfrey Cottages xx