Wednesday, December 18, 2013

That green tape is  holding the book together
I recently acquired a book called, The Circle of Useful Knowledge: For the use of Farmers, Mechanics, Merchants, Manufacturers, Surveyors, Housekeepers, Professional Men, Etc., Etc., Etc. (Yes, that’s really the title.) It was written and published in 1877 by Charles Kinsley. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share some of the more interesting things contained therein. 

To begin, here is a cure for lockjaw.  (I wrote an article about lockjaw in 2012.)

To cure locked jaw.

Wash or bathe the wound with the tincture of myrrh or a decoction of Lobelia, which will have a powerful tendency to promote healthy action, and thus remove the cause of irritation. In extreme cases, the wound may be washed with the most powerful stimulants, such as tincture of lobelia or cayenne. Bathing the wounded part in white lye, as hot as can be borne, and afterwards apply the common slippery elm poultice, has been found of great benefit in this complaint. If the jaws are set and the teeth closed, the best way of getting medicine down is to hold the cheek, at the corner of the mouth loose from the teeth, and then pour the medicine from a spoon, between the teeth and cheek, and it will immediately find its way to the throat, and afford relief.

I had some questions about some of the ingredients listed in this cure, especially white lye, so I did some research. I couldn’t find white lye, but I found the other ingredients, including lobelia. Then I found the following information on a page about Lobelia (also called pukeweed and Indian tobacco) on a fascinating herbal site:

Externally . . .the tincture [of lobelia] can be used as a local application for sprains, bruises, or skin diseases, alone, or in powder combined with an equal part of slippery elm bark and weak lye-water in a poultice. The oil of Lobelia is valuable in tetanus. 

Sounds awfully similar to the cure above, doesn't it? 

More next week!

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