Walking each day on the lane is great. It exercises myself and the dogs, it gives me a chance to observe the hedgerows and sometimes take pics for the blog, but best of all one has chance encounters with the neighbours. This I really enjoy as you never know where the conversation will lead. Yesterday , Joe, who farms sheep further up the lane was in a great mood for chatting. After the usual pleasantries about the weather and such Joe’s topic of the day was health, so many people taking tablets now and still in ill health. Joe is quiet elderly, one would’nt dare ask his age, but other neighbours say he is near 80. Anyway he is old enough to remember when folk did’nt take so many tablets and relied on herbal cures.
Joe has a great memory and he was happy to tell me of a few cures he remembers. One was for gout: in the Spring when nettles have some nice new growth, take a handful, boil with a couple of cabbage leaves. Strain and retain the juice. Keep the juice in a cool place and drink half a small glass first thing each morning on an empty stomach. This has to be done for 9 days. The nettle and cabbage can be eaten as a vegetable.
The next cure was for an infected foot resulting from a thorn or walking on a rusty nail. Cut an onion in half and apply the cut side to the affected area. Bandage to keep in place overnight. Next morning the onion will have drawn the poison from the infected foot.
All this talk on herbal lore reminded me of a book given to me by years ago by an old lady when I lived in Tipperary. It is called Mrs Lavenders Herbal Book and as you can see isn’t in great shape. It does have all it’s pages and is an interesting read. Published in 1930 and sold at a cost of 6 old pence it talks of garden and wild plants as cures for all ailments.
On Beetroot Mrs Lavender says: “All who suffer from jaundice or similar liver troubles should eat the ordinary red beetroot freely. Also it is excellent for growing girls and women of all ages, doing much to strenghten them and to cure weakening diseases to which they are liable.”
St. John’s Wort is mentioned as “useful in all lung troubles, particularly if there is any tendency to phythisis. If the flower and leaves are chopped fine and added to melted clarified lard they form an ointment that will heal almost any wound.”
Burdock is recommended for kidney troubles. “Two ounces of burdock root boiled in half a gallon of water till the latter is reduced to a quart makes an excellent medicine for many kidney troubles such as gravel or stone, and also for those who are suffering from dropsy.”
So between Joe and Mrs. lavender’s guidance we should be able to cope with all eventualities in the health department!!
In future chats with Joe I hope to draw more of this wisdom from him. I have started writing it down as this is part of our folklore which needs to be held on to. As with Mrs. Lavender the turns of phrase are different to those used nowadays. I would however be a bit suspicious of some of her cures…especially the use of snails as a cure for consumption!!!!