The Victorians' cure for a runny nose Sniff an old mouldy sock

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UPDATED:

21:15 GMT, 14 July 2012

Whether seeking advice on treating a cold or reassurance before giving birth, the Victorians were quick to consult household guides.

A new book, Hints On Health From The Victorians, compiles tips from Mrs Beeton’s Book Of Household Management (1861), Mrs Humphrey’s Manners For Women (1897) and others. Here are some of the most memorable tips – if not necessarily the most effective…

Balding: Rubbing an onion on your head is very effective

Balding: Rubbing an onion on your head is very effective

STOMACH UPSETS, CURE FOR

Take a pinch of gunpowder, mix it in a glass of warm, soapy water and drink.

BALDING, CURE FOR

Rubbing an onion on your head is very effective.

HYSTERICAL FITS, REMEDY FOR

Occasional hysterical attacks need not alarm; the patient will recover gradually by herself. Unnecessary fussing and sympathy often result in the renewal of an attack.

BEE STINGS AND WASP STINGS, TREATMENTS FOR

Extract the sting and apply either bruised rhubarb, ammonia or moistened baking soda. To cure a wasp sting, take the remaining substance from one’s smoking pipe and rub liberally into the aggrieved area.

HOME, WAYS TO IMPROVE HEALTH OF

We know not of anything attended with more serious consequences than that of sleeping in damp linen.

CHILDBIRTH, SURVIVING

Ensure that the doctor has clean hands and instruments. This will decrease the risk of fever or death afterwards.

CHOLERA, PREVENTION OF

Fear of cholera could increase your chances of getting it. Stay calm in its presence.

Hang a dead mole around the neck of your baby... for relieving teething pain

Hang a dead mole around the neck of your baby… for relieving teething pain

CORNS, RELIEF FROM

The cause of corns is simply friction, and to lessen the friction you have only to use your toe as you do a coach wheel – lubricate it with an oily substance.

TEETHING PAIN, RELIEF FROM

Hang a dead mole around the neck of your baby.

DEPRESSION, HOW TO ALLAY

Take a sufficient dose of laudanum [opium]. Queen Victoria has confirmed the success of this method when she frequently used it to numb the pain of her husband’s death.

EARACHE, TREATMENTS FOR

Place a ready-cooked baked potato on the painful area and secure tightly.

ILLNESS, FIGHTING OFF

According to doctors, a good way to fight off general illness is to take a ‘healthy dose’ of either mercury, arsenic, iron or phosphorus. If one has a strong heart, mix all together.

A Shetland shawl has saved many from the perils of wearing a light dress in cold weather

A Shetland shawl has saved many from the perils of wearing a light dress in cold weather

WHOOPING COUGH, REMEDIES FOR

I recommend the father takes the child to a field at sunset and gently holds their head in a hole.

HEALTHY WEIGHT, WAYS TO MAINTAIN

According to eminent authorities, many diseases from which we suffer would be unknown were greens eaten in salad form, instead of being robbed of precious salts by being boiled in the orthodox wasteful way.

RUNNY NOSE, REMEDY FOR

Either sniff an old mouldy sock or a generous handful of wet salt. Alternatively, drink hot whisky.

AGUE, CURE FOR

Hold the feet of a dead chicken against your body.

WEATHER, HINTS ON

It is dangerous to stand about in a cold place with a light dress. A Shetland shawl has saved many a life.

… AND IF NOTHING ELSE SUCCEEDS

If all medicinal concoctions fail, pray. If praying fails, have the offending limb amputated and hope the instrument has been sterilised well.

lHints On Health From The Victorians, compiled by Constance Moore, Summersdale, 3.99.