Some old remedies...

esoterica(7)June 28, 2005

Snip from

For those that cannot take an Electuary, these Tablets may be proper to eat, about one Dram at a time, two or three times a day.

Take of the Roots of Virginian-Snakeweed, Zedoary, Contrayerva, Species Liberans, of each two Drams; Camphire two Drams ; mix all finely pouderd, then dissolve eight Ounces of fine Sugar [p.12]in Pestilential Vinegar; Boyl it Candy high, and adding the Pouder to it, make all into Lozenges.

For some that are of a hotter Constitution, and a high Sanguine Temper, it may be proper to take every Morning a spoonful of Pestilential Vinegar in a little Carduus water, or plain Wallnut water; or else drink a draught of Posset-Drink, made with a Spoonful of that Vinegar.

Let the Pestilential Vinegar be made thus.

[p.13]Take of the Roots of Angelica, Butter-Burr, Tormentil, Elecampane, of each half an Ounce, Virginian ÂSnakeweed, choice Zedoary, Contrayerva, of each three Drams; Leaves of Scordium, Rue, Goats-Rue, of each one handful; Marigold Flowers, Clovegilloflowers, of each half a handful; Seeds of Citron and Carduus, of each two Drams; Cut and bruise these, and [p.14]put them in a Glass-Bottle, with three Pints of the best Vinegar, to digest for ten days.

When the Stomach, by frequent taking of one fort of Antidote, begins to loath it: In such Cases the use of it may be changed into some other: And if the Stomach withal should be ill, and defective, in Appetite and Digestion; let the Party take every Morning, ten or twelve Drops of Elixir Proprietatis, in plain Wormwood Water, or else Wormwood wine.

Those that have Coughs, and ill Lungs, may take five or six Drops of Balsum of Sulphur, made thus.

[p.15]Take flower of Sulphur, two Ounces, melt it in an Earthen Dish glazÂd on the fire, then put to it two Ounces of Salt of Wormwood; stir it for a Quarter of an Hour, taking car that it does not catch fire; Then put into it of Aloes, Myrrh, Olibanum, finely pouderÂd, of each one Dram, of Saffron half a Dram; Keep this stirring half a Quarter of an Hour; Take it off, and put half an Ounce of it pouderÂd [p.16]to digest in five or six Ounces of good Spirit of Wine; It will take in a Short time a very excellent Tincture: Which keep for use.

Or else this Balsam may be made with Spiritus Theriacalis Camphoratus, and so will be more effectual against the Plague. Or which is more applicable to use,

Put an Ounce of that Pouder newly made, into a pretty large Glass, and put to it a Quart of [p.17]good Sack; Set it in a gentle heat, for three or four Hours, it will take a Tincture: And of this one may take half a Spoonful at a time: And I suppose two Spoonfuls in a convenient Vehicle, may be a good Sudorifick to be given one that is infected.

Though Purging in time of Pestilence is not good, as Diemerbroek by frequent Examples has observÂd, yet in Cachochymick Bodies, it may be convenient once in a fortnight, to take a Dose of Pillulae Ruffi; Take [p.18]half a Dram at Night, and next Morning take the wonted Antidote, as at other times.

Also for those that live in an infected Air, that there is suspicion that they may daily take in some pestiferous Vapours, which fermenting with the Blood and Humours, may insensibly at last break out in the Plague; it may not be amiss, once or twice a week, to take a pretty large Sweats in their Beds: And this to be done, especially if the Party has had any occasion whereby he may suspect himself to have been more open to infection, or that he has taken any: After such Sweat he should keep his Chamber the forepart of the day, till the Pores are reducÂd to be as they were before.

[p.19]To provoke such a Sweat: Take of Venice Treacle, one Dram; dissolve it in three Ounces of Carduus Water, add a Spoonful of Syrup of Pestilential Vinegar; Or take a Draught of Posset-Drink, made with Pestilential Vinegar; In which boyl a few Petasitis Roots: To promote and continue the Sweat, take Posset-Drink with Meadow-Sweet, or else with Carduus, or Marigold-Flowers boylÂd in it.

Besides [p.20] the daily and constant use of such Alexipharmacal Remedies, there are other Means, which occasionally and sometimes continually should be taken. For in regard we always draw in the Air at our Nostrils and Mouth, these parts should be well guarded with some Antidotes, that may keep out the poysonous Vapours from entring in, and especially as often as often as upon occasion we are more nearly exposÂd to danger of Infection. To this end, some things to smell to, others to be held in the Mouth, chewÂd, and swallowÂd down, are frequently to be insisted on.

That which seems at once to fulfil most of these intentions, is taking of Tobacco in a Pipe; the Smoke of this secures those parts which [p.21] lye openest, and at once intercepts the Contagion from the Brain, Lungs and Stomach; Nay more than this, it stirs the Blood and Spirits all the Body over, and makes them shake off any poysonous Matter that adherÂd to them: insomuch that Diemerbroek accounts it not only a Preservative, but tells us, that himself, when he was several times infected, by taking five or six Pipes of Tobacco together was presently curÂd. And amongst us in England Âtis reported, That in the last great Plague, no Tobacco- Shop was infected: If Âtis not of so great virtue still amongst us, the reason is, because most Men have been accustomed to take it excessively; wherefore it is grown so familiar to them that it produceth no alteration [p.22] when it should be usÂd as an Antidote.

Besides the frequent use of Tobacco, which doubtless in time of Plague may be profitable for them that can take it; others, and also Tobacconists, at sometimes should be furnished with something to smell to when they pass through infected Places. Wormwood and Rue, Galbanum, Castor and Vinegar are good: The vulgar practice of putting Mithridate, or Treacle, or Tar in their Nostrils, may be very useful: or to have a Pomander to carry in ones hand, or put into the top of a Staff.

Take of the Roots of Contrayerva and Virginian-Snakeweed pouderÂd, [p.23] of each Two Drams; of the best Myrhh pouderÂd, half an Ounce of Camphire half a Dram. Let it be made a Pouder.

Part of this may be enclosÂd in a fine Silk Bag, and oftentimes dip it in Pestilential Vinegar, and so smell to it. To the other part of this, add Oyl of Nutmegs by Expression, and Oyl of Cap-ivy, of each a Dram, or as much as will make it into a Mass; also add of Balsam of Peru one Scruple. Dip Cotton Wool in Elixir Proprietatis, inclose it in fine Silk, and put it in the head of a Staff, or Civet Box, to smell to.

For Medicines to hold in the Mouth, and to chew on, Roots of Zedoary,[p.24] Contrayerva, and Snakeweed are very good; also Roots of Enulacampane, Angelica, and Masterwort; these either alone, or macerated in Vinegar, and dried again. Myrhh is very excellent: Some commend Tobacco, and chew it almost continually.

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There are still advocates of the "pestilential vinegar", so long as it is cider vinegar.

"Some commend Tobacco, and chew it almost continually."

I know, and it's enough to put you off watching baseball games.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 2:10PM
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yup- and there's even some science to it, though sulpha drugs aren't terribly popular except amongst people who can't stomach antibiotics.

but it's funny to see how far back tobacco's been touted as a wonder drug

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 2:46PM
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I am allergic to Sulfa drugs...
Pestilential vinegar, what is that EXACTLY? Vinegar can come in different acidic levels.... storebought is usually watered down.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2005 at 7:35PM
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marie_in_wa(8 (coastal))

It gives instructions for how to make it, though you would have to find out what was common for vinegar at the time - I beleive it said 1666:

Let the Pestilential Vinegar be made thus.

[p.13]Take of the Roots of Angelica, Butter-Burr, Tormentil, Elecampane, of each half an Ounce, Virginian Snakeweed, choice Zedoary, Contrayerva, of each three Drams; Leaves of Scordium, Rue, Goats-Rue, of each one handful; Marigold Flowers, Clovegilloflowers, of each half a handful; Seeds of Citron and Carduus, of each two Drams; Cut and bruise these, and [p.14]put them in a Glass-Bottle, with three Pints of the best Vinegar, to digest for ten days.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 12:34PM
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'Pestilential' refers to The Black Plague, or Bubonic Plague, in particular, or any widespread epidemic. Until recent times, there wasn't much protection against infection, but herbal vinegars were found to be somewhat effective. Even today, they are used to disinfect sickrooms, kitchens and bathrooms, as well as wounds etc to good effect. Vinegar on its own has germ-killing properties - with antibacterial, antiviral (etc) herbs added, it becomes even more effective.

Here's a recipe in modern English. The story goes that it was used by a group of men whose job it was to remove the bodies of plague victims - and while in the process, they'd rob the households of their valuables as well. They found that by drinking a little of their vinegar potion, and by rubbing it over their own bodies, they were immune to infection, and thus were able to continue their activities without succumbing to the disease.

Four Thieves Vinegar
This is one of many versions of the legendary mixture. Take internally, 1 tablespoons 4-5 times a day to prevent infection during epidemics. It can be used for washing floors, walls, sickrooms, bathrooms, kitchens etc to stop spread of infection in the household when a family member is ill. Diluted with water, it can be used as a cooling bed-bath for feverish patients.

2 litres apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lavender flowers
2 tablespoons rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons sage leaves
2 tablespoons wormwood leaves
2 tablespoons rue leaves
2 tablespoons mint leaves
several cloves garlic

Combine all ingredients except garlic. Leave on a sunny window will for 2 weeks. Strain and rebottle the liquid, adding garlic. Remove garlic after 4-5 days. 125ml glycerine may be added as a preservative if desired.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2005 at 5:48PM
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Okay... I am not saying you are wrong Daisy, I am just wondering... 4 thieves OIL was used SUPPOSEDLY by thieves who were breaking into Plague victims houses to rob them... probably after death.... they put it on cloths and held to their nose... I wonder if they did that with vinegar too? Because the oil was supposed to stop the plague from entering their nose....

    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 3:46PM
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How will we ever know the true story? It's the stuff of legends, but I've only ever heard of the use of vinegar - I don't think oil was readily available at the time of the Black Death. Not to the poor people, any way.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2005 at 6:06PM
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i'm sure i'v heard of vinegar of the four thieves, but oil of the four thieves i'v never heard of before.

aside from anything breathing through a rag full of vinegar isn't too hardm, but one soaked in oil would be near impossible, its just so much thicker

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 8:45AM
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When I lived in England, Four Thieves Vinegar was always mentioned when doing tours of houses dating from the Plague days. Never heard of the oil.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2005 at 2:32PM
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