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Moultrie
Beth's Weekly Moultrie Observer Column - Week 94
(This appears here courtesy of The Moultrie Observer)


   Awhile back, we were "talking" about old-fashioned medicinal remedies.  It's fascinating to learn that many of those old-fashioned remedies became the basis for very modern medicines. 
   I always think of digitalis, used today for the treatment of heart disease.  My lovely and faithful boxer dog, AKC Jack Dempsey, took digitalis for years after his bout with heartworms (This is so long ago there was no preventative then.).  Digitalis is, of course, a derivative of foxglove - given since at least medieval times for "troubles of the heart."
   Besides the foxglove, teas of black haw bark were used for heart trouble.
   Chills and fever used to be treated with a tea made of the buds of the common elderberry.  Teas of Maywood (we call it dog fennel) or sassafras roots were drunk to make us "sweat it out" of our systems.  In my grandmother's time, the theory was that if you drank sassafras tea during the month of March, you would not need a doctor for the rest of the year.
   Cancer was treated with "earth club" or "cancer root" mixed with bear fat by the Indians.  Stews were made from basil, chickweed and dog fennel. 
   Just now, on the Discovery Channel, there's a program on cancer about dogs who can alert patients and doctors to skin cancers or others beneath the skin that have heretofore gone undetected for too long.
   Consumption - known as lung fever, but not as tuberculosis until the 19th century - was treated with whiskey stews, sarsaparilla tea and feedings of terrapin flesh. 
   Diabetes was treated with the white sap of dandelions.
   Diphtheria - called distemper which was common amongst children - was treated similar to pneumonia and a tea brewed from the "self-heal" wildflower.
   What we call "gout" was called "dropsy" by our ancestors, was caused by excessive accumulation of diluted lymph (serous fluid) in the body tissues and cavities.  The painful swelling started with the feet and moved upward.  Teas of goldenrod and sassafras root were tried and the columbine plant was sometimes effective, although we now know it was dangerous because of its narcotic effect.
   Compresses were made of the comfrey plant and horseradish and baths of ground ivy were taken.  Teas included those made from lavender and mullein, burdock roots and nettles, all without much benefit.
   We still have mullein plants from Miles Henry Gay's farm at our little place!  I just let it grow wherever it decides to come up.and always think of Mel's beloved grandfather when those gray-green leaves appear.  Grandfather Gay used a tea made from these leaves for his rheumatism, we are told.
   Dysentery - better known as "bloody flux" was responsible for more deaths than bullets in our War Between the States.  There wasn't much to be done other than large doses of calomel and a brew made by boiling two pounds of the inner bark from the north side of a white oak tree, boiled in an iron kettle.
   If you are interested in herbs and herbal remedies, I know of no better way to painlessly learn a lot than to read the Diana Gabaldon Outlander series of books!  The heroine, Claire, uses herbs and is fascinated by them.
   There are many books available today at any good book store.on herbs used in cooking and for healthful supplements.  There are complete stores filled with herbs and combinations of herbs that are purported to be good for us, even in our modern day.
   Everyone who knows me has heard at least once my story of the dreaded "onion poultice" which made my 100% attendance record at school possible! 
   Perhaps it was this horrid concoction of my Grandmother's that has sparked my own interest in herbs and herbals today!


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