Herbal medicine: A relic of the past or a signpost of the future?

Dr. Carol Barron has been researching the National Folklore Collection at University College Dublin (UCD) consist of 3,000 bound volumes of folklore to see what people used when they were sick.

“For colds, people took garlic or onion, and the fumes worked like a eucalyptus decongestant,” says Barron. “We see elderberry wine feature heavily. But it’s not wine as such: they mean elderberry with sugar and some blackcurrant. This is straightforward vitamin C. Fruit comes up a lot. We find cures which say to use fresh fruit.”

Some of the cures are simply fascinating in their own right, she says. “A lot of the herbs were either boiled in milk or mixed with butter or lard as an emollient, ointment or cream. Mint was commonly used.”

One cure that comes up, again and again, is a spider’s web, used to stop bleeding in various cultures, including Ireland, for thousands of years. We now know that spiderwebs are high in vitamin K, which helps to clot blood.

More of this interesting news at the Irish Times

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