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Nune Vino Pellite Curas

February 5, 2014

Last year this was happening. This year, it’s happening again, with a few delightful additions. I suspect the only way to avoid it entirely is either to take leave of the world (which I’d rather not) or else abolish February. And since last year I posted a cure for “rewmes” from Buckminster’s Almanack, this year I’ll give you the cure for a cough from the Trotula, which by Anne Boleyn’s time had been in circulation for several centuries and languages. The prescription for a cough was one of the shortest and least complicated recipes in the book. Most of the cures for the varying ailments seem to involve combinations of at least ten different oils of the sort you never see around anymore (who made oil of scorpions, anyway? Was it really possible to verify that it contained at least some genuine scorpion particles?). Not this one. It runs:

Take hyssop and pellitory of Spain, cook them in wine, and we give it to drink. Or we mix grains of juniper with wine and we give it.

(Source: The Trotula, edited and translated by Monica Green, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001 — p. 149)

So there you have it — note that the common recommendation from both the sixteenth-century English writer and the twelfth-century Italian is wine. While I hope you’re all feeling better than I am, if you’re not, take comfort in the fact that doctors across several nations and centuries agree that wine is the solution to most common ailments.

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From → Miscellaneous

4 Comments
  1. Annalucia permalink

    In Trotula’s day, wine was pretty much the only thing that was *safe* to drink, wasn’t it? You sure wouldn’t want to drink the water, and the Portuguese hadn’t yet brought us tea from the East.

    Hope you’re feeling better soon; in the meantime, tea with lemon, and lots of honey.

    • sonetka permalink

      Thanks! I do have wine, but not so much that I could drink some and still have enough for the stew tomorrow. Tea it will have to be.

  2. Oh, ick. I hope you feel better soon–’tis the season for coughs and colds, eh? But yes, hot tea and lots of water too. Keeping hydrated never hurt.

    As for oil of scorpions, I’m glad that’s not in vogue anymore. Otherwise we’d be getting the inevitable debate between farm-raised and organic, free-range natural scorpion.

    • sonetka permalink

      Worse yet, there’d be an actual profession of “scorpion farmer.” All the government subsidies in the world couldn’t make that one right.

      I’m still completely exhausted and can just about put two sentences together, at a maximum. I’m glad it’s not the flu, at least.

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