While these nineteenth century remedies might not cure what ails you, they make an intriguing read.
Dissolve as much table salt in pure vinegar as will ferment and work clear. When the foam is discharged cork it up in a bottle, and put it away for use. A large spoonful of this in a gill of boiling water is efficacious in cases of dysentery and colic.
Cure for the Chills
The plant, commonly called hoarhound, is said to afford a certain cure. Boil it in water, and drink freely of the tea.
Gargle for Sore Throat, Diptheria or Scarlet Fever
Mix in a common size cup of fresh milk two teaspoonfuls of pulverized charcoal and ten drops of spirits of turpentine. Soften the charcoal with a few drops of milk before putting into the cup. Gargle frequently, according to the violence of the symptoms.
To Relieve Asthama
Take the leaves of the stramonium (or Jamestown weed,) dried in the shade, saturated with a pretty strong solution of salt petre, and smoke it so as to inhale the fumes. It may strangle at first if taken too freely, but it will loosen the phlegm in the lungs. The leaves should be gathered before frost.
Simple Cure for Croup
If a child is taken with croup, apply cold water suddenly and freely to the neck and chest with a sponge or towel. The breathing will instantly be relieved, then wipe it dry, cover it up warm, and soon a quiet slumber will relieve the parent’s anxiety.
For a Troublesome Cough
Take of treacle and the best white wine vinegar six tablespoonfuls each, add forty drops of laudanum, mix it well, and put into a bottle. A teaspoonful to be taken occasionally when the cough is troublesome. The mixture will be found efficacious without the laudanum in many cases.
For a Sick Headache
One teaspoonful of pulverized charcoal and one-third of a teaspoonful of soda mixed in very warm water.
Cure for a Toothache
Powdered alum will not only relieve the toothache, but prevent the decay of the tooth. Salt may advantageously be mixed with the alum.
Cure for a Burn
Wheat flour and cold water, mixed to the consistency of soft paste, is an almost instantaneous cure for a burn. Renew before the first gets dry so as to stick.
Cure for Camp Itch
Take iodide of potassium, sixty grains, lard, two ounces, mix well, and after washing the body well with warm soap suds rub the ointment over the person three times a week. In seven or eight days the acarus or itch insect will be destroyed. In this recipe the horrible effects of the old sulphur ointment are obviated.
Source: Confederate Receipt Book: A Compilation of Over One Hundred Receipts, Adapted to the Times (1863), 13-14.
Image Credit: Library of Virginia.