With the spooky season in full swing upon us, including ghost tours, graveyard walks and all things haunted, it seems the perfect time to talk about.... pancakes.
Because according to the fascinating book, Death In Early America, "placing a buckwheat cake on the head" will certainly alleviate your headache, no matter the underlying cause.
Fortified with this wholesome cranial analgesic, let's take a moment to examine some other "cures" common in the 18th-century, practiced by doctors and regular folks alike. Perhaps when we're through, it'll hardly be surprising why the tiny village of Concord had already filled two cemeteries and started on a third by the early 1800's...
"To remove a birthmark, rub with the hand of a corpse." Clearly, there were plenty of corpses around, so why not get a little use out of them?
"For whooping cough, breathe into your lungs the breath of a fish." Uh oh. What does this mean? Breathe water? Squeeze a fish and inhale whatever comes out of its mouth? Further instruction would be helpful.
"For melancholy, bleed from a vein in the foot."
This can't possibly fail to cheer up anyone.
"Toothache: gunpowder and brimstone will help ease the ache." Plus it has the added benefit of ensuring that every time you sneeze, your head explodes.
"A bath in absinthe mixed with urine hominis, hot, will cure palsy." Only slightly more palatable than, "Diphtheria: remove the fluid from the stool of a cow in morning out in the pasture; collect enough to gargle with." And you thought gargling with salt water tasted bad.
"Pour rum on the head daily to cure baldness."
Alternatively, drinking aforementioned rum will cure anxiety over hair loss in the first place.
Onion was a most popular ingredient for cold remedies, prepared in myriad ways. Our favorite is "A muslin bag of cooked onions and lard worn about the neck to clear congestion."
(Apparently also good for those painful piles...)
"The eyes of an owl placed on the eyelids will cure blindness."
That's just wrong. Unless the eyes are still attached to a fully functioning owl. Then it's medicine and entertainment.
"To cure a head of lice, wash the head with whiskey and sand...."
(Wait for it)
"....the lice will get drunk with whiskey and, thinking that they are on sand, will fight each other to the death." Well, duh. Who doesn't know that intoxicated lice become mortally enraged when they think they're at the beach?
And despite the amazing advances in medical knowledge and technology, by the early 20th century, there were still some real doozies out there...
Kinda makes you wonder what the people of 200 years from now will think when they encounter an old American Medical Journal from the antiquated year of 2012...
Wanna hear more? Or visit some dead people? Give us a call and book a tour of Sleepy Hollow or an evening Ghosts in the gloaming walk. We'd be delighted to introduce you to all our expired friends!