Health & Beauty Recipes > Cures Of Old


Although all the ingredients in these beauty recipes are natural, remember that it is still possible to be allergic to anything applied to the skin. DO NOT USE ANYTHING NUT BASED ON YOUR SKIN IF YOU HAVE A NUT ALLERGY. To test other ingredients make up a very small amount of the recipe you intend to use. Wash and gently dry a small patch of skin inside your elbow. Apply a little of the mix to the skin and leave for 48 hours. If you experience any redness or swelling DO NOT USE THE BEAUTY RECIPE AT ALL.

We strongly recommend that you do your own research before using any of the ingredients in these recipes since some ingredients should be avoided by certain groups of people. Mountain Rose Herbs' website has a wealth of information on herbs, their uses and possible side effects. Many essential oils and herbs should always be avoided by pregnant/nursing ladies. Always check with a qualified health advisor if in doubt.

The knowledge of many drugs used in modern pharmacology has been passed down from herbal or folk medicine. With little idea of the workings of the human body, ancient medics had to rely on trial and error when searching for remedies. However, no doubt with a few disasters along the way, they did succeed in finding many effective natural cures containing substances which are widely used today in chemical form.

Cochlearia Officinalis (Spoonwort)

This was grow by monks in the middle ages and used as a remedy for scurvy. Scurvy was an unpleasant disease caused by the lack of vitamin c and was rife in England in the seventeenth century. An infusion of spoonwort, also known as scurvy-grass, was dispensed in beer by the monks.

Later in Tudor times Sir John Hawkins discovered a far more effective cure for scurvy in the form of lemon juice. By the end of the eighteenth century lime juice, another good source of vitamin c was a compulsory drink in the Royal Navy.

Scurvy-grass and citrus fruits both contain vitamin c which prevents and cures scurvy. Fruit juice is probably a more efficient way of giving a large enough dose than administering an infusion of scurvy-grass. In modern times vitamin c is often taken in tablet form as a supplement to ward off infection, especially colds and flu.

Cinchona (or Peruvian or Jesuits) Bark

This was brought to England from South America at the end of the seventeenth century. The bark was crushed into a powder and used in various proprietary cures, one of the best known being "Doctor James' Fever Powder". Cinchona is in fact very helpful for curing fevers because it contains quinine which has been widely used in the treatment of malaria.


When the first coffee house was opened in London in 1652 by Pasque Rosee, he published a pamphlet entitled "Vertue (sic) of the Coffee Drink". In this he claimed that coffee helped the digestion, quickened the spirits, helped sore eyes and headache and prevented drowsiness.

We know know that it is the caffeine in coffee that gives us the lift and helps us to keep awake. Caffeine is also added to some headache tablets.


During the eighteenth century opium obtained from the opium poppy was widely used in England. It was valued for its pain killing and sedative qualities. Laudanum was opium dissolved in alcohol. This was not given to children because the alcohol was considered bad for them. Their opium, to help them through teething and colic, was delivered in cordials and syrups.

Codeine, a derivative of opium, is commonly used today in proprietary analgesic tablets sold for headache, tooth ache and general pain relief.


In 1860 the active ingredient of coca leaves was isolated and called cocaine. IT was recognised as a local anesthetic and as a substance that increased vigour and endurance. The latter benefit has long been employed by workers in South America where the coca leaf plant originates.

Today cocaine is injected as a local anesthetic during procedures such as tooth extraction or filling.


This was a traditional remedy for just about any ailment of the feet. Soaking the feet in a bowl of urine was recommended for aching, sweaty, blistered or bruised feet. It was also said to cure the fungal disease known as "Athlete's Foot".

Urine contains urea which today is added to creams and lotions for the treatment of eczema, hard and dry skin.

The use of natural substances in early attempts to cure illness was based on observation, experimentation and sometimes superstition. From earliest times learned men such as Galen and Culpeper recorded their findings providing, along with tradition and word of mouth, the foundations upon which modern medicine is built.