Upset stomach? Try soapy water and some gunpowder

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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After a fortnight of runny noses, colds and being kept up all night by the kids coughing, I was interested to read about the release of a book entitled Hints On Health From The Victorians.

Now, a lot of great inventions came from the Victorian era, many that are still popular today such as the Christmas card, stamps, flushing toilets and Easter eggs.

Thankfully though, most of their household remedies never caught on. And I’m not surprised when you consider that the cure for a stomach upset was to take a pinch of gunpowder, mix it into a glass of warm soapy water, then drink. Mmmm, sounds lovely!

I can’t see any reason why the children wouldn’t welcome a nice cup of soapy water with a dash of gunpowder. In these hard financial times, maybe this could even make a comeback.

I can see dads taking to their sheds and carefully prising open leftover fireworks.

And all you need to cure a runny nose is to sniff a mouldy old sock.

Now I’m not sure of the scientific basis for this, and the kids weren’t too keen to sniff the sock I found festering under the bed, so unfortunately I am unable to confirm the effect.

You think these sound weird? Well just wait until you hear what cures theVictorians had for baby ailments.

Whooping cough was best dealt with by fathers taking their child to a field at sunset and gently holding their head in a hole.

‘Thanks for this doctor, it’s really done the trick. Only problem is now my child is scared of me, fields, holes and other confined spaces.

‘So I was wondering if you have a cure for claustrophobia or, barring that, the number of a good psychiatrist.’

I’m guessing a lucky coincidence played a part in these cures coming about. A man took his child for some fresh air. The child fell head first into a hole. Whooping cough magically cleared up the following day.

I suppose, though, that it’s no different to how some of today’s medicines arrive on our shelves. Viagra, for example, was created by accident.

Albeit a much happier accident than anything involving gunpowder or mouldy socks.