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Pass (on) the mustard, please. September 29, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , ,

Silence Dogood here. I was recently reading about old-time remedies, and of course I came upon the infamous mustard plaster. Victorians apparently loved mustard plasters, which, as the name implies, is a mixture of mustard and flour stirred into a paste and then (as the name does not imply) smeared over your chest. 

Say what?!! Apparently, the heat from the mustard was supposed to break up congestion in the lungs. Basically, this was the Victorian go-to remedy for the common cold and cough.

But as I see it, there were two serious drawbacks. First, who would want to smell like a giant hot dog? It’s bad enough being sick without that. And second, if someone inadvertently put in too much mustard, the mustard plaster could end up blistering the skin. Then you’d have a cold, a cough, and blisters on your chest. Not a pretty picture! 

Maybe the Victorians were on to something about applying heat to relieve chest congestion, though. Next time I have a cold and cough, I just might try it—but with a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel. Hold the mustard, please!

           ‘Til next time,




1. Lzyjo - September 29, 2009

OMG! How foul!!! I’ll stick with Vicks!!

Ha!!! That’s what I always think, too, Lzyjo. How could they bear it? But maybe their noses were so stopped up they couldn’t smell the mustard. Ugh!

2. Dave - September 29, 2009

Yeah, definitely hold the mustard! Maybe it was the scent/fumes of the mustard that provided the congestion clearing effect. In which case you could just sniff a bottle of mustard. Just have the hotdog ready.

Ha!!! Good point, Dave!!!

3. jodi (bloomingwriter) - September 29, 2009

There’s gotta be a real good pun in there somewhere, but I’m not going to try to find it. I still know of older peeps round here who think such a poultice is effective. Happily, I’ve never encountered them whilst they’re sporting such a thing.

I was sure it hadn’t gone completely out of use, Jodi! There has to be some reason for its longevity, after all. (Even leeches are now enjoying a revival.) But I don’t think you’d encounter anyone walking around with one. I think part of the treatment was definitely staying in bed!

4. Dr. Huma Ibrahim - September 30, 2009

Well I remember our driver from the mountains used to use turmeric and something else to make a dough like thingy to put on sore knees and ankles—worked like a charm and was not very smelly—though I would have refused to put it on my chest.

Turmeric smells a lot more pleasant than mustard, that’s for sure! But your knees and ankles must have been orange for the duration. Every time I cook with turmeric, my fingers are bright orange for days!

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