Most cookbooks from the 19th and early 20th centuries include sections on medicinal remedies. "Cures" for smallpox, typhoid fever, diptheria and cholera are included along with recommendations on how to treat fits and hysteria ("chiefly seen in females, and generally connected with uterine irregularities" according to The Dominion Cook Book-1899). While some remedies seem laughable knowing today's science other remedies still make perfect sense. "Rules for the Preservation of Health" in the latter cook book include instructions to drink water, avoid excess of spirits, exercise regularly and sleep in a well ventilated room.
Some remedies call for tincture of opium and chloroform - I can't imagine you would feel anything after that! Ingredients that I don't think I could find in a grocery store or at a pharmacy are listed: antimonial wine, laudanum, best manna, and tincture of senna are things I have never heard of before.
So while I was wrapped up in a blanket on the couch trying not to feel sorry for myself after developing my fifth cold since December, I decided to consult my old cookbooks for an old fashioned cure. Egg gruel or beef tea didn't sound appealing and I really didn't like the idea of simmering bacon in vinegar and then laying the bacon on my sore throat for a cure. I settled on "A valuable recipe for fever and ague" figuring I at least had the fever. According to Mrs. R.A. Sibley from "The Home Cook Book" of 1877 I should steep 4 ounces of galangal root in a quart of gin left in a warm place; take often. Unfortunately I didn't have any galangal root handy but I substituted some tonic water. Now I feel just fine!