Saturday 24 October 2020

The Saturday List #284 - 10 long forgotten medicines, treatments and home cures

Like many people, I am always looking for remedies for ailments. I've had a few.  When I was a kid growing up in the 1960's, I was a sickly child. I'd been born six weeks premature and required three blood transfusions at birth. I spent my first three weeks in an incubator. My mum told me that she had been convinced that I would die, but as she had five older children, she rationalised that this wasn't too much of a disaster.  Somehow I managed to pull through. I seem to have spent the rest of my life having all manner of ailments. I had all of the normal ones as a child, chicken pox, measles, etc. I had my tonsils removed aged four, the first of many operations. I was diagnosed, aged 10, as having IBS. I've had all manner of problems with my ears, needing two operations to remove polyps and mastoids. I had a mallory-weiss bleed in my stomach when I was 24, a hiatus hernia. Following a car accident in 1988, I have a damaged spine, which causes sciatica and numbness. I've got arthritic knees and in 2011 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Other than that, I'm in rude good health for a 58 year old. I still play football and still play music in a rock and roll band. I made a decision early on, not to let poor health stop me doing anything. I was thinking about this and my mum's home remedies. I was recalling all of the strange and wonderful medicines, treatments and home cures that seem to have disappeared. I thought these warranted a Saturday list. 

1. Disprin. 

As a kid, when I had a headache, I was given a disprin. It was dissolvable asprin. Then one day they invented panadol and we never had disprin again.

2. Whitfield Ointment.

This was a strange and smelly concotion that was allegedly a cure for athletes foot. My Dad swore by it.  I've not seen it in a chemist ever. My Dad reckoned it was the only thing that worked. He said chemists wouldn't sell it as it cured the problem and they'd lose cash.

3. Milk of Magnesia.

If you had a tummy ache, this was what you were given. It was a chalky white liquid. I don't know if it actually worked, but it seemed to.

4. Dettol baths.

My Dad used to encourage me to have a bath in dettol (a disinfectant added to the bath water) quite regularly. He assured me this would kill all the germs in my skin (apart from the athletes foot). I guess it worked, as I didn't have too many diseases caused by germs on my skin.

5. Vicks Rub.

If we had a chesty cough, mum would make us rub Vicks on our chests. It was smelly and opened up the sinuses. I'm not sure if it actually helped. 

6.  Eggy Soldiers.

If we were ill, mum would make us eggy soldiers. This was a soft boiled egg and toast sliced into thin slices to be dipped in the egg. It was wonderful, but we only had it when we were ill.

7. Mumps parties.

If a local kid got mumps, parents would hold mumps parties. The idea was that it was far better to get mumps when you were a kid than an adult. I suppose that with the MMR injection, that was rendered obsolete.

8. Tincture of cannabis.

My Dad had a vial of tincture of cannabis for treating tooth ache. I think my brother added it to a cigarette and smoked it, much to my father's annoyance. I don't believe that this can be bought anymore. I have no idea where he used to get it from.

9. Witch Hazel.

My mum had a bottle of witch hazel. I assumed it was some sort of antiseptic wash. A quick google explained it was used for vaginal itches, which is possibly why I never knew what it was used for.

10. Gentian Violet.

This is another medicine that we had in the medicine cupboard. Again I have no recollection of what it did or what it was used to treat. Apparently it is a treatment for ringworm and athletes foot. 

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