My parents, niece Z and I were discussing historic cures for illnesses the other night. Odd topic for after dinner conversation but we are all avid readers and my niece got excited and ran up the stairs to her room. She brought down what she says is one of the best picture books ever. She believes it should be required reading, and I tend to agree with her. She’s fourteen and equally loves reading/quoting Shakespeare, the latest YA dystopian fiction, and picture books. She’s wonderful. She proceeded to read ‘I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History’s Strangest Cures’ to us.
The book provides three cures that were used for a types of illness. The reader is then supposed to pick/guess which cures were actually helpful and which ones were useless if not downright detrimental. The next page tells you the answers, but don’t cheat! That would take all the fun out of it. The picture above is an example of cures used to heal every sickness. Your choices are a unicorn horn, a philosopher’s stone, or mothers kisses. – Oh, and I’m not telling you the answer, you will have to read the book to find out. There are lots of outlandish historical options for curing headaches, a sore throat, a stomach ache etc. The book explains in detail why each cure did or did not work.
Each remedy has the historical background and scientific explanation. I will say that my parents and I have read intensely researched history and historical fiction where cures were discussed ex. ‘Outlander’ by Diana Gabaldon, ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ by Jean M. Auel, and Michael and Kathleen O’Neal Gear’s North America’s Forgotten Past Series. Michael and Kathleen O’Neal Gear are even an Archaeologist and Anthropologist team. That being said, we did not get all of these right. It was fun to test our knowledge as adults along with enjoying a beautiful picture book.
Above is a page from the book explaining why people chose to cut a vein to try to cure headaches. The doctor does not look like he has the best bedside manner but there is a scientific explanation as to why it was helpful. I wouldn’t suggest it today but for the time it provided some relief.
I recommend every man, woman, and child read this book. As my precocious niece says, “It should be required reading.” Enjoy!