Medical treatments have certainly changed for the better over the years. Home medical books, such as the “People’s Home Medical Book”, included in the “People’s Home Library”, copyright 1911, list various treatments for numerous illnesses and diseases common in that era and makes one appreciate the first aid measures and easy-to-take pills and potions we take for granted today.
Let’s take a look at a few medical conditions and treatments listed in the “People’s Home Medical Book”.
If the bite is on a limb, tie a rope or handkerchief on the limb just above the wound. Cleanse the wound immediately and suck the wound. Cut the wound, allowing blood to flow freely. Fill with salt or, if available, permanganate of potash. Inject the potash, diluted three-fourths with water, and “followed with full doses of brandy or whiskey.”
Other “People’s Home Remedies” for snake bite include the following:
• Plantain leaves: Apply bruised leaves and give a teaspoon of juice from the bruised leaves each hour.
• Baking soda: After cutting the wound and sucking out the poison, apply moistened baking soda. Keep the baking soda moist for several hours.
• Chloride of Lime: Bathe the wound immediately and freely with two tablespoons of chloride of lime mixed with a half pint of water.
• Turpentine: “Turn a bottle of turpentine upside down over the snake bite and hold it there until relief is obtained.”
• Tobacco and Salt: Moisten salt and tobacco and apply to the wound as a poultice.
• Onions and Salt: Apply as a poultice.
• Salt and Lamp Oil: After sucking and cauterizing the wound with a red-hot iron, apply table salt and lamp oil.
• Chicken entrails: After the wound has been sucked and cauterized, apply the warm chicken entrails of a freshly-killed chicken on the wound as the entrails will draw out the poison. Insect bites and stings: Pull out the stinger and apply “peroxide of hydrogen.” Pure or diluted vinegar can be used for bee stings, as well as a clay poultice. Apply one part phenol mixed with 50 to 100 parts water for mosquito bites.
• Witch Hazel: Freely applied, witch hazel applies quick relief for mosquito, spider, snake, bee, or wasp bites or stings.
• Ammonia or salt: Insect bites and stings may be bathed with salt and water or ammonia water. “Ammonia destroys the local poison by blistering the part, thus drawing out the fluid poison.”
• Olive oil: Apply to the bites or stings.
• Clay: Apply wet clay or black mud to insect bites or stings. “There is sometimes danger of infection, but often other remedies are not at hand.”
• Tincture of Arnica: “A tried and true remedy”
• Plantain leaves: Apply to insect bites or stings a poultice of Common Plantain leaves. Note: Plantain is also an effective remedy for scalds, burns, bruises, and ivy poisoning.
• Catnip and Plantain: Apply bruised plantain and catnip leaves to affected areas and give one teaspoon of plantain juice each hour.
• Salt and Soda: Apply in equal parts to spider bites to stop swelling and relieve pain. Physician’s Remark: “Salt draws and soda soothes.”
• Onion: Apply a raw onion piece to the bite or sting. Change every ten minutes. Physician’s Remark: “Raw onion is irritating and stimulating to the skin and causes the skin to discharge a fluid, thus ridding the part of the local poison. Keep on for three or four hours.”
• Baking Soda: Apply baking soda for stings.
• Clay: Apply a clay poultice for stings.
• Coal Oil: Apply coal oil freely on stings.
(Note: This is the first of a three-part series of columns about home remedies from the “People’s Home Medical Book”.)