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Tag Archives: home remedies

I am feeling sick today.   Poorly, as they used to say in England.  Behold my feverish sheen and not-so-minty breath.

Okay, maybe I’ll refrain from sharing that with you.

I woke up with a sore throat Sunday morning but I decided to ignore it and weed the garden.  To thank me for intruding upon their cozy wilderness of lupins and sundrops, some kind of insect bit me.  Now, in addition to my sore throat, I have a large bruise-like area on the side of my stomach.  And my left eye has been hurting since February.  But that’s another story. our garden

Back to today’s story.  Only the weird bugs bite me.

This re-affirmed for me that weeding out in The Nature is like asking for trouble, playing with fire, flirting with death (even in Southern Ontario where we have nary a poisonous anything to worry about).

I think my spleen is swollen.   There’s a lump where my spleen is…supposed…to…be, I think.

Practical Man recognizes that I have morphed into that pathetic man from the Nyquil commercial and is feeding me echinacea and zinc for the sore throat and reminding me to keep applying the antihistamine goop to my anonymous bug bite.  He’s very comforting and logical about the first aid stuff.  Maybe all the herbal hocus-pocus helps but I am not a very stoic patient.  I tend to favour the lie-around-and-fuss-and-groan approach.  Even though there’s no scientific evidence, I’m almost positive that it helps.

Especially the groaning.

While he is rather fond of the herbal hocus-pocus, at least Practical Man doesn’t force me to endure some of the vintage home health care remedies common during my childhood.  Remember, this was an era where caution was firmly in the wind.  A time in which seatbelts were optional and babies slept in a drawer at grandma’s, in a pinch.  No modern-day candy-flavoured/shaped medicine for us.  No, no.  Medicine was supposed to taste bad and be uncomfortable.  That was a sure sign that you were on the road to a cure or at least discouraged future episodes of staying home from school.  By the time they were done with us, we wished so badly not to be sick anymore to escape treatment that we sort of did get better. Growing up, my sister and I were given a battery of vintage home health care remedies including:

  • Being forced to drink pulpy, unsweetened orange juice by the gallon at the first sign of the sniffles.  Pulp is disgusting.  Blecch.  
  • Being isolated up in our very boring rooms, without TV or any form of entertainment (because “being sick requires real rest, not The Flintstones)
  • Being slathered in violent-smelling eucalyptus Vapo-Rub then wrapped in the world’s scratchiest, wool sock that had been crisped in the oven and secured around our swollen neck with a giant diaper pin
  • Being slathered in some homemade concoction called mustard plaster then wrapped in the world’s scratchiest, wool sock that had been crisped in the oven and secured around our swollen neck with a giant diaper pin
  • Being slathered in the tar-like substance called Cuticara:  a blackish/green goop for scraped knees and elbows.  Could also fix a flat tire or seal the cracks in the driveway.  Just kidding.
cuticura ointment tin

(photo credit:

Vintage health care involved a lot of being slathered, as you can see.   A good, vigorous slather was apparently the cure for all.  Case in point:  my aunt got poison ivy and there was no one home to help her except her older brother, my dad. He slathered her in Pepto Bismol instead of Calamine Lotion (both pink–oops!) but she survived nonetheless.  It’s all about the slathering. And, if slathering didn’t work, there were always the unhelpful comments from parents such as:

  1. “Can you wiggle it?”
  2. “Well, you’re not bleeding very badly.”
  3. “Well, if you can wiggle it, I’m sure it’s fine.”
  4. “Well, you were bleeding, but it’s stopped now.  I’m sure that toe will grow back someday.”
  5. “Okay, so you swallowed the clicky bit from the kazoo.  I’m sure you’ll pass it in a few days.”
  6. “You think this is bad?  In my day, we had to take cod liver oil from a rusty spoon!”
  7. “You think this is bad?  In my day, we went to school when we we were sick…and there was no heat and we had to walk 25 miles one way with no shoes.”
  8. “I’m pretty sure you’d feel better if you ate more roughage.” (that’s vintage speak for “you didn’t eat your brussel sprouts at dinner”)
  9. “I’m pretty sure you’d feel better if you got more exercise.” (that’s vintage speak for “please go play outside for a while and get out of my hair”)
  10. “I’m pretty sure you’d feel better if you got more fresh air.”  (variation on number 8.  I didn’t like The Nature back then, either)

Even if some of these have been slightly exaggerated, you should still take my advice:  forget all the vintage home remedies and modern-day herbal hocus-pocus!  When you’re feeling poorly, I’m quite confident that ice cream every two hours is the only cure.

I can already feel my spleen perking up.