Today the winds are up in the desert, and I am suffering a terrible headache, as Spring has brought blooms of all sorts to our area, and the March winds are stirring the pot!I just took some sinus-relieving medication, and am waiting for a change to the knitted brow that has taken over my face. It has gotten me to thinking about 18th Century medications. There was no aspirin, or antibiotics. Even colds were considered quite serious, and were cause for alarm.
There was also the mixing and making of drugs from odd herbs, minerals, metals, oils, etc. In Europe, everything was tried, where in America, a more common-sense approach was implemented. Most American medicines of the times were "botanical", and documented in charts as to their use. We know the benefit of these today, and the ones to avoid, but back in the day, alot of this was trial and error. Many plants are poisonous, or can produce extremely harsh effects when overdosed.
Mark Catesby was persuaded by eminent English physicians to document many therapeutic plants during his travels from 1710-1719. He researched may apple, snakeroot, ginseng and witch-hazel. He wrote about them in his "Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahamas Islands".
The use of vaccinations began in the 18th Century, with the hope of eliminating small pox, a disfiguring and often fatal disease. Scurvy, that plagued sailors, was also researched with the finding that the use of fruits, expecially citrus, improved health.