If this doesn’t work…, Sally Thomson


In these days of cures for almost everything, it is a sobering thought to find a couple of suggested cures for the common cold in the 17th century. Like most cure-alls, they were based on plants, these being relatively mild concoctions.

for a Cold
take a pottle of spring water putt into itt 3 or 4 elicampane roots small shred & putt into itt mere halfe a pound of sugar & halfe a pounde of reasons of the sonne stoned boile theis together till it come to a quart then drink a little glasse full ev(er)y morning fasting & ye like ev(er)y evening & eate now & then a slice of elecampane. Sometimes when you brew take a pottle of wort in stead of the water & then a ¼ of sugar will serve & use it as before.

Take an ounce of powder of Elicampane one ounce of seeds one ounce of white sugar candy halfe an ounce of liquorice a little race of fine ginger (cutting of the outside) beat all this to a powder & finely search them & mingle them together & eat of itt as oft as you will.

pottle = bottle
elicampane = Inula helenium, a plant of the Sunflower family, with rather fine petals.
reasons of the sonne = raisins
wort = the infusion of malt which, after fermentation, becomes beer
sugar candy = sugar crystallised by repeated boiling and slow evaporation
race = ginger root
search = sieve
The ingredients would probably not have been easily available, sugar and spices were still the luxury items of the wealthy, which is probably why it appears in Lord Hungerford’s manorial book! Though it seems a strange place to record it.

WSRO Ref: 490/1541
Old Court Book of Manors of Sir Edward Hungerford, 4 to 5 Car 1 (1628-1640)