Mothers Remedies for Burns

Published in 1921

new remedy

Mothers Remedies published in 1921 had a section on Burns Treatments, and as a relatively modern 3rd degree burns survivor I was interested to see how I would've fared in those days.
Apart from the obviously erroneous
(as we know these days) application, of various oils,  butter, molasses or  'Crushed Onion Poultice' to burns sites, the book of nearly 1200 pages contains many recipes that include kerosene (coal oil), turpentine, ammonium chloride, lead, lye (sodium hydroxide), strychnine, arsenic, mercury, creosote, sodium phosphate, opium, cocaine and other, nowadays, illegal, poisonous or corrosive items.
Many of the recipes do not state whether it is to be taken internally or externally, so one wonders how many patients actually swallowed Lye (Caustic Soda).

In those days people were totally preoccupied with poultices (applied to the skin, 324 references) and "keeping the Bowels open", to cure most problems.

One can only imagine the terror endured by mothers and family members when a child or adult took ill. The doctors available (if you could afford one) could offer little more than this book. The guilt of the cure not working for the patient was probably easier to endure than the helplessness of doing nothing.

One of the passages in Mothers Remedies amused me:
'For Third Degree Burns.--In this kind there is a great shock. Stimulate the patient with whisky, etc. Put one ounce in a glass one-half full of water, and give two teaspoonfuls frequently, dependent upon how much stimulant the patient has ever used; or an enema of one ounce of hot coffee can be given.'

And this was from the section on Physicians' Treatments!
I could've used the shot of whisky, but would've passed on the hot coffee enema!

The Titlepage of the book


Over One Thousand
Tried and Tested Remedies from Mothers of
the United States and Canada.
Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, Diet, Nursing,
Treatments, Etc., of Every Known Disease.
Poisons, Accidents, Medicinal Herbs and
Special Departments on Women, Children and
Formerly connected with Medical Faculty of
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, Mich.
ACCIDENTS AND POISONS                                                                      Page 387 of Mothers Remedies

A Burn is caused by dry heat.
A Scald is caused by moist heat.
A superficial burn, upon a young child, that involves the third of the body will
almost certainly prove fatal, while a very deep burn, provided it is localized, may not be so serious, unless important nerves and blood vessels have been destroyed.

Burns may be divided into three degrees:
First degree are those burns that only affect the outer or superficial layer of the skin, producing a redness with some small vesicles.
Second degree burns: These extend through the true skin and blisters result.
Third degree burns: This goes down underneath and involves the deeper tissues. Charring and destruction of tissue takes place.

  1. Burns, Linseed Oil for.-- "Quick application of linseed oil." The oil forms a coating and is very soothing. 
  2. Burns, Common Soda for.--"There is nothing better than common baking soda for burns and scalds; apply a thick coating of dry soda. Bind a cloth over it, and keep on until the pain ceases, after which any good healing salve will do."
  3. "Apply crushed onion poultice ; cover to keep out the air. This will soon extract the heat and pain." Onions seem to possess many medicinal properties. They are very soothing, and in a case of scalds keep out the air and relieve the pain.
  4. Burns, Molasses Takes Pain from.--"Apply New Orleans molasses to the burn and cover with flour. This forms a coating over the affected parts, keeping the air from it, thereby relieving the burning. This is an excellent remedy and one easily prepared."
  5. Burns, Butter a Relief for.-- "Spread butter on the affected parts and bandage well. This is one of the remedies our grandmothers used to use and is a good one."
  6. Burns, Oil of Peppermint Draws Fire Out of.--"Apply oil of peppermint; it will take the fire out almost immediately."
  7. Burns, Sweet Oil and Cotton Batting Relieves.-- "Saturate cotton batting in sweet oil and cover the burns and keep covered until the fire is out. I had my hand burned with steam until the skin peeled off, and this remedy relieved the smarting."
  8. Burns, Vinegar Prevents Blistering from.-- "Vinegar applied every few minutes will keep it from blistering." This is a remedy always at hand, and will do just what it says.

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Mothers Remedies

Published in 1921

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