Saturday, May 14, 2011

Medicine to Drinke

Why is there always sheep dung? What was it about that particular substance that made it so appealing to early physicians? Was it the need to have an unpleasant treatment to psychologically convince the patient that they were getting a cure for their ailment. Does sheep dung have particular properties that make it suitable for compresses? It certainly could not boast any antiseptic qualities. Having had the opportunity to shear sheep in the past, I can testify that I can think of very little benefit that can come from sheep dung outside of the garden. In the garden it is a wonderful substance but, I can think of very little to recommend it as a medicine. Yet, in many old remedies like the one transcribed in today's post, sheep dung is an integral ingredient.

While this remedy is called Medicine to Drinke, I think that there are at least two remedies at work. The first remedy almost sounds like an interesting cocktail. The allycompain mentioned in the list of ingredients is certainly elecampane which grows wild in our area. In fact, we have some of these tall yellow flowers in the back yard of the O'Dell House Museum. The root of this plant has been used medicinally for centuries and bears some expectorant qualities. The root appears to be steeped in half of a pint (paint in the transcription) of molasses and 8 glasses of gin. Since the root apparently has an anise flavour, this may actually be a pleasant aperitif. At worst, it might make some of the other parts of the remedy more bearable.

This prescription comes from the Cronin fonds held by the Annapolis Heritage Society Archives. I have found at least one other equally questionable prescription in the documents. As I always do when transcribing, the original spelling and grammar are left intact. I must admit that I do not know who the gentleman in the photograph is. Although he is an unidentified photograph in our collection but, he had a somewhat medical bearing that I felt added to this post.

All for now,

Medicine to Drinke

allycompain ½ paint molasses 8 Glafses jin in a bottle and fill it up with the allycompain liquor

Punkin sees and flax seed ½ paint, punkin seeds one hand full,

Casteel soap 1 ounce & Parsley the parsley stewed to liquor

Warm Watter for Drink with some meal or bran

To forment plaster, sheeps Dung with the hymlock & Juniper Liquor wet it with vinear

Rub Frequently with fresh butter the sore

Anoynt in the Seabord & yd with the ointment left

After Washing it with Casteel soap& warm water

Wet or wash the Bowl with Soap Suds & grease it a little.

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