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My head is stuffed, my nose is glowing and my throat has been replaced with an instrument of torture from the least forgiving dungeon of the Middle Ages. I don’t want to over dramatise this but I’m crawling towards Death’s Door and I need love, sympathy and most of all, a cure. In answer to my feverish battering at a keyboard, the International online community suggests that Echinacea may possibly, doubtfully, debatably, offer some assistance. The plant is a hardy perennial that retreats to the blissful depths of its winter bed, which is where I should be. If you think that I’m going outside to find some, dig it up and make a tisane, you are sadly mistaken.
Back garden, looking south east
Back garden, looking south east

I’m brewing a stew of lemon rind, juice and honey, which helps with most of my symptoms. Before citrus fruits were imported, you had to consult the witchy wife for a restorative, concocted in insanitary conditions and smelling strongly of unpleasant vegetation. They made the best of what was available, so dandelion root and goat’s pee would have likely made a large showing. Modern simples make much of the therapeutic value of garlic. I suspect that they are working on my granny’s theory that if it tastes vile, it must be good for you. If consumed in generous quantities, it should keep everyone at a distance, thus avoiding the transmission of germs. My uncle used to swear by the healing power of a whole raw onion taken with a liberal helping of dark rum. Although an amiable man, we used to avoid him if we heard his sneezes and he had a handkerchief to hand.
Cynara scolymus (globe artichokes) spring growth
Cynara scolymus (globe artichokes) spring growth

Nicholas Culpeper was the 17th century sage who committed to print much of the knowledge of his times. Dated 1652, “The English Physitian” (sic), includes his recommendation for the use of burdock to alleviate dog bites, flatulence and toothache. Pennyroyal assists with vertigo and helps expel gas. Dittany draws out splinters and allegedly, the smell drives away venomous beasts. If you slap on enough of the stuff, it will probably sort out indigestion as well. He paired herbal nostrums to the planetary influences, so carrots were to be used under Mercury and ivy, columbine and cabbage were deemed effective under the moon. At various times in the January sky, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn are visible. Mercury also makes a brief appearance and the moon is bright and lively, so most of his treatments should be useful up to and including Brassicas.
Helleborus orientalis “Blue Lady” (Lenten rose)
Helleborus orientalis “Blue Lady” (Lenten rose)

After a little research, I found that paracetamol consists of a benzene ring core, substituted by one hydroxyl group and the nitrogen atom of an amide group in the para (1,4) pattern. There’s more on Wikipedia, if you are a glutton for punishment. Along with modern dentistry, the Internet and accurate cosmology, it’s one of many reasons that I wouldn’t wish to live in the past. I’m going to raid the medicine cupboard for any or all of the above and shall retreat to a darkened room until I feel better. Someone wake me in spring.

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