Lumbago

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NETTLE stings are still believed in some places to cure lumbago (Rollinson), just as they are used for sciatica, and, much more widespread, rheumatism. GROUNDSEL for lumbago is an ancient usage, for it is prescribed in the Anglo-Saxon version of Apuleius "for sore of loins" (lumbago, that is), in Cockayne's translation. FOXGLOVE leaves, applied externally, were used for lumbago in Irish tradition (O Suilleabhain), and a decoction of CELERY seed is still being taken for lumbago and rheumatism (Newman & Wilson). In Alabama, a tea made from HORSERADISH root is taken for "a weak back" (R B Browne). Does this mean lumbago? The root was certainly used in Britain for the complaint. Fens people grated and mixed it with boiling water, and this would be immediately applied to the patient's back on going to bed. The resultant blister was treated the next day by removing the plaster, baking it in the oven until it was powdery, then mixing it with flour, so that the whole thing was dusted over the blister (Porter. 1958).

A practice recorded in Dundee claims that FLAX, in the form of a hank of linen yarn worn round the loins was a certain cure for lumbago (Fernie).

Carrying a NUTMEG around in the pocket, mainly as a charm for rheumatism, but also to cure a backache was a Lincolnshire belief (Rudkin) (or more specifically to cure lumbago (Opie & Tatem)).

The Zezuru, a central African people, used the roots of MIMOSA THORN (Acacia karroo) to cure lumbago. They burned them to charcoal, which was then finely powdered. Small cuts would be made in the flesh over the painful area and this powder rubbed in. (Palgrave & Palgrave).

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