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Now we have access to a modern healthcare system, but back in the 1700s, people barely could see a physician, so they didn’t get proper care for their medical conditions. But they still needed treatment, and the closest to this was natural remedies. In 1740, John Wesley published a book called Primitive Physick or An Easy and Natural Method to Curing Most Diseases.

It included recommendations on how to use certain plants and natural remedies people could quickly get to improve their health state. Wesley stated that the best treatment for most conditions is to drink cold water or take cold baths. He considered these solutions effective even for cancer. His other pieces of recommendation included drinking chamomile tea for stomach issues. While the last remedy is still popular nowadays, cold baths for breast cancer aren’t an option anymore. 

But it’s interesting to discover some of the natural remedies people used in the 1700s, to understand how valuable modern medicine is. 

Treatment for ague

We don’t even use the word ague nowadays. But Wesley used it to describe an intermitting fever, preceded by cold shivers and sweat. Alongside the natural remedies he recommended for the issue, he stated that people should forego the treatment with a gently vomit, two hours before using anything else. He believed that vomiting could even cure fever and chills. But if it fails and the patient is dealing with more complex issues, then wearing a bag of groundsel on the top of the stomach for two hours could definitely work. 

The patient had to shred the weed in small pieces and cut some holes on the side of the bag they applied on the skin. 

And if this last treatment fails, Wesley suggested a remedy only someone with a strong stomach can handle. The therapy included six middling pills of cobwebs. The patient had to take them according to a schema, one before the cold fit, two before the next one, and the other three only if they don’t feel better. He said this was the best treatment that never failed.

Treatment for a canine appetite

Even in the 1700s, people dealt with issues like extra weight and insatiable appetite. Wesley collaborated with a doctor called Schomberg to find a treatment for the ones who had a canine appetite. It looks like there were people who desired to eat all the time, and as everyone knows, too much food isn’t healthy, so a solution was highly needed

If the patient didn’t vomit after eating plenty, they could cure their condition with a small bit of bread dipped in wine and applied on their nostrils. No one uses this cure anymore, because inhaling wine doesn’t seem to be the right way to cut your appetite down. 

Treatment for asthma

Wesley identified two types of asthma people were suffering from, moist asthma and dry and convulsive asthma. Because the symptoms were different, people needed unique treatment for each. The ones who suffered from moist asthma found it challenging to breathe and often spit. The most common remedies were seawater, tar water, quicksilver, or nettle juice. But when they didn’t work, the patient could also try living a fortnight on boiled carrots only. 

But if the patient had dry or convulsive asthma, they had to treat it with small pills made from toad dried and powdered. He said that the remedy needed no more than an hour to function. 

To treat nose bleeds

The treatment for nose bleeds was quite interesting because all the patient had to do was to drink whey and eat raising daily. When this remedy didn’t function, they could try a more aggressive method. They had to hold a red hot poker under the nose, steep a linen rag in sharp vinegar, burn it and blow it up the nose using a Quill. 

It sounds quite painful, but people were used to painful treatment because there was no other option. 

Treatment for pain

A strange procedure used in the 1700s in Europe involved blowing tobacco smoke up the rectum in people saved from drowning. It was a Native American method people used to treat constipation in horses, but Europeans adapted it to save drowning victims. They used an apparatus that included a long pipe and a set of bellows. They installed the equipment on the banks of Thames so people could use them if needed. 

This procedure was also popular for treating abdomen pain and headaches. If it would be to evaluate its efficiency now, we would probably conclude that it wasn’t a good pain reliever. 

Nowadays, the people who want to use a natural remedy to fight pains use CBD oils and tinctures because they have no side effects and better effects. 

Treatment for colic

Babies had always had colic, and parents were looking for ways to improve their children’s state. At present, doctors define it as a condition healthy well-fed babies have that makes them cry for more than three hours daily, three days a week for around a month. Babies aren’t the only ones who can experience colic; even adults can suffer from stomach pains and spasms. Often they are symptoms of more complex issues, especially when they last for three weeks or more. 

Now there are plenty of medicines that can help both children and adults, but in the 1700s, Wesley couldn’t figure something better than wearing a thin, soft flannel on the belly. 

Treating wounds

If the wound was a cut, then the patient had to keep it closed with the help of their thumbs for a quarter of an hour, and it will heal on itself. It’s similar to the technique we use nowadays when we apply pressure on the wound to stop bleeding. Once there was no more blood coming from the cut, they had to dip a rag in cold water and wrap it around the area. 

Other methods recommended binding on toasted cheese and applying pounded grass every 2 hours. 

What do you think about the natural remedies people used back then?