Chilblains

In some places, the juice of LEEKS mixed with cream was used (Dyer). Gerard recommended TURNIPS for chilblains, for which "oil of Roses boiled in a hollow turnep under the hot embers" is also good. They can be treated with HORSERADISH, too, by wrapping the grated root round the finger/toe, and keeping it in place with a piece of lint (Rohde. 1926). But the best known treatment was to thrash them with HOLLY till they bled, some say, to let the chilled blood out. This is a logical enough cure, for chilblains are caused by poor circulation, and thrashing them deals with this. But there is a variant to the belief - the feet should be crossed while it is being done (Igglesden), and that must surely be illogical. Another chilblain remedy from Essex also enjoined the use of holly, but this time as an ointment. The berries are to be powdered and mixed with lard (V G Hatfield). Similarly, from Wiltshire, with the added proviso to use the ointment liberally, wrap the part with an old stocking, and then toast it in front of the fire until the heat becomes unbearable (Whitlock. 1988). The prickly stems of BUTCHER'S BROOM were used also to thrash the chilblains (Grieve), just as holly was.

WOODY NIGHTSHADE's red berries were used to deal with whitlows (felons, as they used to be called). They were bruised and applied directly to the place. Warwickshire people did exactly the same for their chilblains, and made a habit of preserving the berries in bottles for just that purpose in winter time (Bloom). A cure from Essex was an ointment made from lard and the juice of DEADLY NIGHTSHADE (V G Hatfield. 1994), a logical remedy, for a decoction of the plant, used externally, was prescribed as a means of keeping up the blood circulation (Brownlow). TUTSAN roots boiled, and the liquid poured "upon curds. Pound the same with old lard, and apply as a plaster" were used in Wales (Physicians of Myddfai). The infused leaves of SANICLE were once used as a lotion for chilblains (Mitton), and a decoction of QUINCE pips is still used sometimes, to apply to skin complaints like chilblains (Schauenberg & Paris). An Essex treatment of chilblains was to take WHITE BRYONY berries, crushed and rubbed on (V G Hatfield. 1994), and BLACK BRYONY, entirely unrelated, berries were used, too (they and the roots were steeped in gin and then applied (Wiltshire, Vickery. 1995). They used to be treated in Ireland simply by rubbing ONION juice on them (Maloney), or putting a roasted onion on them as hot as could be borne. In Gerard's opinion, "the inner part of SQUILLS boiled with oile and turpentine, is with great profit applied unto the chaps or chilblains of the feet or heeles ..." In Scotland, an ointment made from CHICKWEED was used on children's chilblains and rashes (Vickery. 1995). WALL PENNYWORT, too, was used at one time (Tynan & Maitland), and so was the tincture of ARNICA, provided the chilblains were whole (Grieve. 1931). An ointment made from the crushed bulbs of SNOWDROPS has been used on chilblains (and to treat frostbite!) (Conway).

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