Quack or Fact?

The history of colonial medicine is filled with stories of strange tonics, outlandish remedies, and curious “cures.” Toads, snails, mashed potatoes, mandrake, and bear grease were commonly prescribed. While some of these ingredients sound crazy, there’s logic behind many of them!

For instance, snake oil hasn’t always been just a euphemism for quack medical treatments. For centuries, oil from the Chinese water snake was an actual treatment used in traditional Chinese medicine to relieve joint pain. Today, we know that snakes are a rich source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid containing anti-inflammatory properties. 

Join Ehris and Velya for a funny and factual exploration of colonial medicine. It it all just quack - or fact?

Is it all just quackery?

Tansy, celandine, horehound, and anise hyssop are all herbs familiar to healers from the colonial period of America’s history. However, they would also be familiar with using mice, bats, and spider webs as remedies! The colonists routinely dealt with bloody flux, small pox, and tapeworm as well as normal daily complaints like diarrhea, burns, and fevers.

As the early settlers began to colonize the New World, herbs were among the most important cargo. Despite the fact that 18th century colonial women rarely received any type of formal education, most of the health care for the colonists was provided within the home. Women became responsible for health care in addition to their responsibilities for child care and housekeeping. They served as doctor, nurse, and pharmacist for their family, and their education consisted mainly of training from their mothers. They raised medicinal herbs in kitchen gardens and concocted remedies from whatever was available.

History should never be boring!

The most common reason why people hate history is because they find it boring. We all enjoy stories that make us wince, laugh, and grimace. Grounded Goodwife’s history presentations explore the engrossing “taboo” topics omitted from history.

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