Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Great Grandma Susie's Remedies

I was diagnosed this week with asthma. Apparently my great grandmother Susie suffered the same ailment.
About 1910 Susannah Gehman Gregory
Is it any wonder she couldn't breath? Look at that corset! 
I love this picture of her. 

When I posted on Facebook this week about my new diagnosis, my Aunt Edith reminded me of her home remedies that included exclusively drinking goat's milk, taking garlic, and apparently she smoked a pipe with alfalfa! Who knew?

So, I researched 19th century remedies for asthma. It's quite shocking. I feel bad for my ancestors. Here's just a few of the popular remedies I found from Henry Hyde Salter's On Asthma written in 1860: (this is not meant to take the place of modern recommended medical advice, seek your on healthcare provider for your own care and advice.)

1. Tobacco, inhaled and held until relaxation or collapse; to which some accounts reported the collapse was preferred to the symptoms of the asthma attack.
2. Ipecac, causing the vomiting of phlegm
3. Opium, causing relaxation of the spasms and nervousness
4. Hemp, also causing relaxation

And my personal favorite:
5. Coffee--strong and black, best on an empty stomach!

Without antibiotics, and with these therapies for a potentially deadly condition, it's amazing so many survived. My great grandmother Susie lived to be 92!

What old family remedies can you share?


Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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  1. Well, the Hemp and the Opium probably did help... the rest of that stuff-- wow. :) I suffer with asthma too.. and so do my oldest two daughters. No fun! I know nothing of my history... my family has never been open about the past, but it's fun hearing about your history. And man, was your great-grandmother pretty!

    1. Yah, the Hemp and Opium probably made them unaware of a lot of things--and not in a good way! There are a few others in our family with asthma also, but thankfully not severe.
      I think my grandmother Susie was pretty too Ladette, thanks :) But I sure wouldn't want to wear a corset like that!

  2. Oh goodness, inhale until you collapse? It is a wonder they lived that old. :) What crazy remedies.

    1. Right, quite the opposite of "but I never inhaled...." ;)

  3. Oh my goodness, hilarious remedies! :) I love the coffee one, though.

  4. I suffered from colic, as a baby, & was given a lot of Paregoric. It is seldom prescribed now, & my mother has wondered if it was responsible for some later health issues that I had. Paregoric contains opium, & interestingly, enough, Anne - was concocted by Jakob LeMort (1650-1718), as an elixir, to be taken for asthma!

  5. My dad used to give me onions cut up in honey. I'd take a few teaspoons of this when I had a cold.

    ~Cecelia Dowdy~

    1. Wow, I've heard of cinnamon and honey, but onions? Eeew. Lol.


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