We ventured up the road a ways to Latta Plantation. The homeschool days they offer always seem to conflict with our schedule, but today it worked out. We love Latta and their programs, so we knew the homeschool program should be worth the hour and a half drive.
Today's topic was medicinal remedies in the Carolina back-country. We approach medicinal cures holistically in our family and this topic intrigued us. Of course, with modern day science, we know what old remedies have merit and which ones don't. Never less, it is always interesting to hear about the practices of old.
We started the tour in the Latta family home. An older gentleman taught us about blood letting and leeches. The kiddos weren't very fond of this treatment. Although blood letting is no longer practiced today, leech therapy is still used. We also learned about how people took worming medicines to rid themselves of internal parasites. They kiddos thought that was amusing that people did this to themselves and not just their animals.
We then listened to a medicine show. The medicine was typically alcohol and opium. Of course, the ingredients were never listed on the bottles. It was always advertised as a great healing potion. It didn't really heal, it just relieved the pain. Unfortunately, many people became addicted to the stuff and consumed more and more of it. Many died from overdose of the magic cure.
We learned about different herbal tinctures, teas, and remedies. The household garden was more than just vegetables on the plate at dinner time. The foods that were grown had many medicinal properties and were used for that purpose when needed. Other items were foraged in the wild and seeds were then planted to grow the plants in the garden area.
Back-country people had to be their own doctors. Sometimes there may be only one doctor in the area and it could take weeks for them to come if needed. If a wound was bleeding and wouldn't stop, they had to self cauterize it. Fire was very important not only for heat and cooking, but for wound cauterization and sterilization. Water borne illness was a top concern for the people. Dysentery claimed many lives. Boiling water could help prevent this, but the people did not know that. Most made cheap alcohol from corn, sorghum, barley, etc. and drank it to keep from contracting dysentery.
Finally, we learned about the plowing process on the back-country farm. Most people had a mule or horse to help with farm chores. These animals were very valuable. Farming was back breaking work and without a reliable mule or horse, it was nearly impossible to plant a garden.
We enjoyed our visit to the plantation and look forward to coming back. We always learn something new. We take a way an appreciation of what our ancestors went through in the 'good ol' days'.