Friday, 2 October 2009

Fixing oneself

Does anyone remember The People's Home Medical Book? Published in 1922, it was a mainstay in many family houses. In Australia it came bundled with The People's Home Recipe Book and The People's Home Stock Book (animal management rather than soup-making) under the overarching title of The People's Home Library: A Library of Three Practical Books. The Rosewood Scrub Historical Society possesses a battered copy that has seen much use. It is clearly the sort of book that was in constant reference by all members of the family.

Oddly enough, Marburg is now less well supplied with medical practitioners than probably any time in the past. At one point there were two hospitals in the area, including Dr. Sirois' famous establishment. Rosewood had it's own midwife who delivered many a baby at home or in her house at the corner that now has the traffic roundabout at the top end of town. Nowadays Rosewood does have several GPs as does Lowood or people can choose to go further afield to Ipswich, Toowoomba or even Brisbane.

A lot of basic medicine took place at home though and this book was the bible of self-help. Advice was given on everything from women's health to sugar diabetes, freckles to obesity (or adiposity), drunkenness to acne and snake bites.

A few snippets forthwith. First, to help your with planning for your weekend.
Symptoms: These are too well known to need description.
What to do: Produce vomiting by giving lukewarm mustard water, using from 1 to 4 teaspoons of mustard; or give one or two teaspoonfuls of alum dissolved in lukewarm water; or, give lard or salt or produce vomiting by tickling the throat. You may also give strong coffee [Ed. Before or after the vomiting?] Apply cold to the head and warmth to the arms and legs. Use artificial respiration if necessary.
And a beauty tip (one of the nine options offered so freckles must have been a serious problem):
Freckles may sometimes be removed by wetting a piece of saltpeter [sic] and rubbing the freckles two or three times daily.
Other freckle removal options included a paste of bitter almonds and barley flour; borax, sugar and lemon juice; glycerine and lemon juice; washing with buttermilk and rinsing; leaving sour buttermilk on one's face overnight; grated horseradish in very sour milk; crushed strawberries; and a long bathe in borax and lemon juice.

I think I'll put on my hat and sunscreen and stick to coffee.

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