|Killing the Sick and Healing the Dead|
|A Guide to Home Remedies|
|One of the most lasting impressions of the time when our grandparents and great-grandparents first carved out a life for themselves in Canada, is the Home Remedy. Many of the "Cures" and conconctions still survive today and are even enjoying a re-birth as evidenced by the many health food stores that offer an array of herbal medicines and the homeopaths who recommend them.
In Victorian Canada, and indeed for many years before and after, the women of the household were responsible for diagnosing, curing and dosing, and they did not take this responsibility lightly.
|From the first sniffle, rash or cough, they went to work, and like or not, you were now at the mercy of their medical knowledge, or lack thereof. For minor complaints, mother would know just what to do, having learned it from her mother; but if the symptoms were beyond her realm, she would call in reinforcements. Most small communities did not have doctors, so the medical team would include many of the females living closeby, especially those in their golden years who had learned their "doctoring" from their ancestors. Since the first European emigrants arrived in New France in the early 17th century; they were privy to thousands of years of herbal remedies, already mastered by the natives, and these, along with others originating from "The Old Country" were handed down to many generations of landed immigrants.
But aside from the practical, much of our ancestors' healing was based a little on superstition, a little on witchcraft and whole lot on faith, even if that was just faith in the medicine, and not necessarily that of a higher power.
At the time, there was a common belief that the human body was made up of a series of humours. Not comedic elements, but bodily fluids that determined a person's health and temperament. Therefore, all food and drugs were grouped according to their effect on your bodily fluids. Most cookbooks included advice on diet, both for prevention and cure, and all of the favourite housekeeping guides and almanacs included articles on arranging sick rooms and caring for invalids.
|Of course if your illness was related to one of the many epidemics, like typhoid or cholera, then the best you coul|