Colonial Medicine


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This information is interesting and is from Edwin Valentine Mitchell's book, "It's An Old New England Custom".

The colonial housewife raised medicinal herbs in addition to plants to dye her linen and woolen clothing.  Doctors expected her to have a good supply of samples (single herbs) for application when he was summoned.  Such herbs one may have used are:

Honeysuckle - a vine to treat fevers, sore throats, boils and skin sores.

Cranberries - from the Indians, she learned that cranberries were excellent when mashed and used as a poultice for wounds.

Lemon balm - comfort for the heart; also aided digestion.

Morning glories - the vines of morning glories acted as a laxative, and the flowers were helpful in relieving a backache and healing broken bones.

Parsley - comforted the stomach, prevented baldness and was helpful in assisting fretful infants to break wind.

Rosemary - used with embalming.

Sage - calmed the nerves.

Columbine - leaves acted as a lotion, good to rub on sore mouths and throats.  Taken in wine it was thought to give a speedy delivery for childbirth.

Comfrey - came from England.  Roots boiled with water or wine was good for drinking.  Helped inward hurts and bruises.  As a tea it was drunk for a restful sleep.

Flax - planted to spin the fibers for thread for linen; good for treatment of rheumatic pains.  The seedling seed aided in digestion and was used for poultices.

Foxglove - gentle cleansing; it rid the body of clammy humors.  Ointment was used for a scabby head.

Roses - could cure anything.

(Evergreen Log, Washington State, Fall 2000)


Last Revised:  August 26, 2015