Nune Vino Pellite Curas
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.