post The Last Word… Would You Rather Have the Illness or the Cure?

September 13th, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 10:58 am

The Last Word…
Would You Rather Have the Illness or the Cure? 

WJ St.Germain

While researching if any ‘old’ remedies might help alleviate the annual bout of flu, I made some interesting discoveries about Old West cure-alls. In fact, there were so many amazing ‘remedies’ that I’ve filed enough for a second article. Some are hilarious, others downright dangerous. A few have a shred of logic behind them. While I think they make for good reading, I DO NOT recommend you try any of them – if the likelihood occurs that you are tempted to (and if so, you might ask yourself if you’ve had enough to drink for one day).

In keeping with the flavor of the newsletter, we will start with one that uses the chaparral. It’s for those who suffered from boils. You must first catch a chaparral (aka the roadrunner). It must be a chaparral; apparently chickens, ducks and other birds don’t work.  Kill the bird and eat it. I presume the bird is first cooked. After all, everyone knows how dangerous eating raw chicken is and the danger is present in all fowl. We can assume people had worked that out*. Once you’ve eaten the chaparral, the boils should soon disappear. And if they don’t, well you won’t need dinner.
*  Back in the days of Henry VIII’s banquets, peacocks were carefully skinned before cooking. Before serving, the raw, feathered skin was carefully replaced over the bird for presentation purposes. Anyone who ate meat in contact with the raw flesh paid for it.

The next is a cold remedy which also protects from others catching your cold. Eat a raw onion sandwich then wash your hair. I’m not sure what would happen if you washed your hair first. Maybe you’d render the onion void. For years, people have believed that onions attract bacteria, which by the way is untrue. We can assume they thought the onion acted like a sponge, soaking up the germs. As for washing the hair (I’m surprised it wasn’t with an onion), who knows? It would at least get rid of the onion smell on your hands. I can see how this remedy prevents your nearest and dearest from catching your cold. After all, how close would you be hanging around someone with raw onion breath?

Got something in your eye? No worries. Just pour warm milk into it. That way you will have something else in your eye to worry about.  Make sure the milk isn’t too hot or it will burn – in case that never occurred to you. I don’t expect poached eye would feel too good. But it would certainly help you to forget the speck that originally blew into it.

Speaking of hair, is yours bald or thinning, making you feel less attractive to others? If so, help is at hand. Just smear fresh cow manure all over your head working it in well. Remember, it must be fresh otherwise you will be smearing resident dung beetles on your head and they might not appreciate that. We guarantee that your family and friends will soon notice you. So will the flies and any stray dung beetles that are still looking for a home.

Got an earache? I suspect this is the brainchild of someone’s great-granny. Have a smoker blow tobacco smoke into your ear five times a day while saying, ‘Hurt, hurt, go away, go into a bale of hay.’ I recommend burning said hay because if you fed it to the stock they would end up swallowing the hurt and we don’t know what that might lead to.

Lice were a problem for some people. There was a remedy for that which does have a ring of truth to it (well, the ant part anyway). Simply put your clothes on an anthill and wash your head with kerosene. It doesn’t say if you have to wash your head at the ant nest or at home so you’ll have to wing it. Since ants are territorial, especially about insects that approach their nest, they will attack and eat the lice. I guess if you’ve got lice on your body – after all, it’s only your head we are advised to douse in kerosene – you may have to lie naked on the anthill once they’ve cleaned up your clothes.  That should be fun. By the way, while you’ve got a head full of kerosene, be sure to stay away from smokers and open flames lest your head catch fire. This includes avoiding anyone chanting ‘hurt, hurt go away.’

But lice weren’t the only problem in the Old West. Hangovers were everywhere. We have two interesting options to try. The first is easy enough, cut a lemon into wedges and rub the fleshy side of the wedge under your armpits until they are nicely covered with lemon juice (and other bits). The armpits will soak up the juice, rehydrating the body. Apparently just drinking a glass of water didn’t occur to any of these guys.

The second cure required rabbits but unlike the poor chaparral, they come to no harm. Instead, and this isn’t the tricky bit, you must collect enough fresh droppings to fill about half a cup. Then you seep the droppings in boiling water and (here’s the hard part) drink the resulting solution. But take care; the droppings must be as fresh as possible. Otherwise… well, they don’t say. Maybe it won’t taste as nice.

Now a remedy for something I suffer with from time to time, a ‘crick’ in the neck. I am advised to go down to the pig pen (assuming there’s one handy) and find out where the pigs’ favorite scratching post is. Then position your neck in the most rubbed area of the post and rub away till the crick is gone. Of course unless you are some kind of contortionist, you will end up one giant crick after doing this. Oh and your neck will probably be full of splinters and hog hair but maybe I can find a remedy for that another time.

Got ‘rhumatics’? Have a cat sit on the affected area. This one makes sense since the body heat of the cat would relieve pain. It would probably work best on stiff knees since you are more likely to convince a cat to sit there for a while. Arthritic shoulders or ankles may pose more of a problem if the cat is uncooperative.

Bleeding need to be stopped? Simple. Cover the area with a spiderweb. I suggest that you be sure to remove the spider first. Oh and this works for nosebleeds too. You just stuff the whole web up your nose. Don’t ask me how you get it back out, though.

Our skin matters to us so I include a remedy for facial blemishes. We know that Manuka honey has antibacterial properties and it has been successful in healing some wounds. But we will assume that in the Old West, any old honey would have been used. Ladies smeared it all over their faces and waited… they didn’t say how long. Then wash it off. But be sure to leave enough honey in the hive for the bees, otherwise they will detect the scent of their honey and come looking for you. In no time you will be walking around with a face full of bees. It’s probably not a very good look.

Here’s another all purpose cure for any sort of facial blemishes and also a disinfectant for countertops, dishes, laundry and so on. You’ll need access to a baby for this one because, ‘while still fresh and warm’ (fresh!), you must wash your face with a urine soaked diaper. It’s possible that the trace amounts of ammonia found in urine was the reason why people had faith in this treatment. However, you will find much more bacteria in a soggy diaper than disinfectant.

For those who couldn’t access said diapers, another popular treatment for disinfecting laundry involved hanging freshly washed clothes outside public toilets to absorb the scents. This must be what heralded the invention of perfume.  But all of this begs the question, what do you wash the urine soaked diapers in?

For those with little access to water, a dishwashing suggestion proclaims the cleanliness of a dog’s mouth, advising us to let our canine friends lick the plates clean. Given the stuff I’ve seen my dog put in his mouth, I think I’d probably lick my own plates.

Finally, problems with stuttering? Whack the stutterer in the mouth with a chicken gizzard. Why? My guess is, not wanting to endure it again the person simply gives up speaking altogether.

Did You Know?
It is possible that while they may not have known the science behind it, the person who came up with the rabbit poo tea cure for hangovers observed that rabbits produce two kinds of dropping; pellets, which are nutrient poor waste, and cecotropes (also called ‘night faeces’). The cecotropes contain nutrients that were not absorbed the first time they passed through the rabbit’s digestive system so they must be eaten by the rabbit before the nutrients can be absorbed. This is why you must not be too fastidious about cleaning your rabbit’s living areas. Without noticing there was a difference between them (though it’s pretty obvious), the observer may have thought that if eating them kept the rabbit healthy, maybe it would do the same for humans with hangovers. Yes, okay, that’s where we really stretch the imagination.

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