A Miserable Cold

I’ve had the most miserable cold recently and it got me thinking about what treatments my characters might have used for my condition (this research also falls into line for my WIP, since I want to have some scenes of the heroine in the stillroom). First things first, did they call it a cold? Yes, the OED assures me they did, as far back as the 16thC. What I had might also have been called rheums or catarrh or influenza depending on the actual symptoms.

Recommendations for treatment include doing nothing (and avoiding sudden changed in temperature), bleeding (of course), the administration of “blisters” to the chest (for lung congestion; this sounds worse than bleeding), and sometimes modern-esque treatments which can be found in the period treatises as well.

In Modern Domestic Medicine (1827), there are lots of recipes and treatment suggestions, some of which sound truly terrifying (like ammonia-based liniments) and some of which sound like basic modern homeopathy (honey for a sore throat).

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Treatment suggestions for a common cold
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This is quinine, which reduces fevers and dulls pain.
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Yes, I’m willing to bet honey and opium made you feel a whole lot better.
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Some less drastic cough treatments
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This seems actually civilized as a treatment for a cough.
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Pre-eucalyptus being introduced this is probably the best you could hope for.
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I really don’t think I want a liniment of ammonia on me.

Anyone have any favorite sickroom romances? I mean, aside from the Restorative Pork Jelly of Frederica?


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4 Responses to A Miserable Cold

  1. Elena Greene says:

    I hope you feel better soon, and can at least be comfortable until then. Some of those old natural treatments can be pretty good.

    In case you hear from doubters on the use of the word “cold”, Jane Austen used it in P&P (Mrs. Bennet’s statement that “People do not die of little trifling colds”).

    I enjoy wounded soldier stories, as long as they’re well written. One example that comes to mind is Gail’s THE PERSISTENT EARL.

  2. Cough medicine is excellent, because I *still* have that cough I caught while I was in England back in… eh… September (I’ve finally caved in & will go & see a doctor tomorrow). I hope both of us will be better soon before we will have to resort to drastic measures and fry some poor mice (in the Fenlands, fried mice were said to be the BEST EVAH medicine against the whooping cough…)

  3. Beth Elliott says:

    The advice for the ‘common cold’ is exactly the same as my old doctor always advised. Even her four dogs were fed a vegetarian diet. When in good health, she added yoghurt [she kept two goats in her garden] and lots of carrots. She looked twenty years younger than her age… but alas, I need a more substantial diet.
    Isn’t ‘Peruvian bark’ quinine?
    These coughs seem to be lingering for weeks, it must be miserable. Hope you shake it off soon.

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