Fremont County, Iowa

"Keep Well"
by Emily Bengston

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of August 17, 2009

Every time you turn on television, there are too many commercials for drugs. By the time I hear all of the cautions about taking a drug, I have forgotten why it was good. Things were different, when I was young, and remedies came from what we had on hand. I find early stories about medical advice interesting. My collection of newspaper clippings from the Farragut Newspaper with medical advice dates back to the 1920’s.

Dr W. A. Evans in his column “Keep Well” wrote an article entitled ‘Salt Stops Vomiting.’ Some of the passages included: “A woman badly hurt in an automobile accident vomited for two days. She was given cool, salt solution to drink. Vomiting stopped. A nurse who had been operated on for appendicitis was having some complications. She vomited each of five nights. She was given salt solution. Vomiting stopped. A case of alcohol debauch was relieved by a salt solution.

“I am informed that in a certain hospital which rather specializes in treatment of cancer by heavy doses of x-rays, salt solution is being used to stop vomiting. No claim is made that the salt solution is anything more than a means of giving temporary relief. It merely starts the wheels going in the right direction. It is also claimed, that it is harmless except, that in large doses it may cause diarrhea. A two (2) percent solution using cold water is the proper amount.”

Another article, is about eating to avoid bad colds. According to an article by Dr. V. S. Cheney, which appeared in the American Journal of Public Health, colds are the result of an acid condition of the body. “This acid condition is brought about by a diet too rich in such articles of food as bread, meat, eggs, oatmeal and fish. These foods should be balance by adequate amounts of alkaline foods, such as; potatoes and other vegetables and fruits. Citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges, also believed to be acid, actually produce an alkaline effect and reduce acid conditions.”

If one got a cold, the recommended remedy was at the inception of the cold take a solution of sodium bicarbonate, commonly know as baking soda, one-half teaspoon to a glass of water. People were advised to use this baking soda solution three or fours times a day at the beginning a cold.

My favorite article is the remedy for man and beast. Mrs. J. C. Caldwell from Cedar County, Iowa wrote “One of the most effective and inexpensive home remedies in the dairy and horse barn is the simple combination of iodine and caster oil in the proportion of one part iodine to seven parts of castor oil. Our veterinarian prescribed it for ring worm. It was so effective we use it for other things.” They used it for bruises, gashes in the legs, inflammation of swollen udders and troublesome warts on their animals.

Her final words in the article were “This preparation is also good for human use.” When I read these articles or look at the collection of medical equipment we have in the Fremont County Historical Museum, I decide maybe those drug commercials aren’t so bad after all.

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Page updated on November 1, 2020 by Karyn Techau