Home and Living often receives books to review. With the instability of healthcare and the word “Home” in the title, we were game for the book: Home Remedies from a Country Doctor. Are there even any country doctors anymore we asked?—apparently there are! Is there anyone who does “a house call”? Apparently they do! Wonder after wonder. Anyway, just one session of flipping through the pages of this nicely-sized gem—500 pages—and we were hooked.
Inside there are even remedies one could use right now. For example, do you really know what to do when your tongue gets frozen on cold metal? Well, we do now. Of course, the best first answer is, “don’t do it.” Failing that, the second best answer is only touch metal with gloves on. And yes, the final best answer is to pour anything warm over where the skin is stuck, e.g., warm water, coffee, whatever is at hand. And despite the warnings, every year children will lick cold metal signs, try to taste the runners on sleds and somehow get tempted by parts of skis, really. Good thing to know: even if the licker does lose a bit of his tongue, in time he will recover.
And Home Remedies sings a kind of folksy tune. The Subtitle professes: Oatmeal, Cucumbers, Ammonia, Lemon, Gin-Soaked Raisins—Timeless solutions to More Than 200 Common Aches, Pains and Illnesses and it doesn’t fail. The book also presents several sidebar-like stories from physicians and others who have actually tackled the problem. The texture of the paper used has a newsprint feel but it matches the little graphics inside which are reminiscent of the Wall Street Journal pixel pictures, only these are created using soft pencil drawings.
As far as content, it’s varied. Every ailment from Afternoon Slump to Hangovers, and Jaw Clicking to Phlebitis can be found in the Table of Contents. There are recommendations on how to handle everything from Morning Sickness to Warts. And many of these are based on the history of folksy self-medication, but its an empowering vision to be able to handle minor aches or annoying ailments on your own. (And they do dispel the wild wive’s tale or two.) Plus, the information is valid and evergreen oriented. You may not want to stop a cut from bleeding by using spiderwebs but, hey, it’s an option.
The content it says is based on two years of interviewing doctors in rural New England, which makes sense because this is published with the help of the editors from Yankee magazine. More than 200 ailments are listed, along with short anecdotes from lots of country doctors. Home and Living used to keep Reader’s Digests in the bathroom many years ago for quick reading, but we think this is our new read and pretty engaging for now.
Heinrichs, Jay and Dothry Behlen Heinrichs, et al., Home Remedies from a Country Doctor, Skyhorse Publishing, 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-60239-973-0 Price: $14.95