Wednesday, August 01, 2012

'Bruised on the Brush'

Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth I

On Monday, my guest author Jocelyn Green shared her love of Queen Elizabeth I. I invited readers to add a random fact they knew about this famous Queen, in the comments of the day. 
Jenny from Australia told us Elizabeth I had rotten teeth, and her servants did their best to keep mirrors away before she spotted the ugliness for herself. 
I guess in Elizabethan times there was little to be done when teeth rotted through. This made me wonder what those wrestling with toothaches did in later centuries. The characters I write about, from Victorian England and Colonial Australia. 
I’d always known people reached for cloves when aching teeth required home remedies. But what else did the Victorians rely on? I was surprised to read the following, from Etiquette and Advice Manuals - The Lady's Dressing Room, by Baroness Staffe, trans. Lady Colin Campbell, 1893 - Part II 
'For Toothache - When you suffer from toothache, mistrust the ordinary remedies that are recommended. Creosote, cloves, essence of cinnamon, etc. etc., may perhaps ease your pain, but they will destroy your teeth. Go at once to the dentist; and if you are obliged to delay doing so, use only such remedies as are evidently harmless. For example, roll some parsley with a little salt up into a small ball, and put it into the ear on the side where the pain is. Or, again, paint the cheek with lemon-juice, or apply a hot flannel to the face.'

'Tooth powders - In the summer, the most delicious and the best dentifrice is the strawberry. It cleans the teeth to perfection. It should be bruised on the brush, the teeth rubbed with it, and then rinsed out with tepid water.'
And one final tip from the Victorians...'Eat a small crust of bread at the end of every meal, after the dessert.'

So there you have it. A few dental nuggets and fixes for when you can't get to the dentist in a hurry. I'm not sure painting lemon juice on your cheek or stuffing your ear with parsley will help, but you may be game enough to give it a try. And if a strawberry worked for the Victorians...
Don't you love the idea there's solutions to some of our health needs, just outside the back door? I do. I love watering my kitchen garden, knowing it holds medicine as well as great flavours for my cooking. God's first-aid kit, sun kissed for just when I need it. And who knew strawberries could be a hurried replacement for toothpaste?
Do you have home remedies held in high regard by your family? What backyard cure did your grandmother promise when you needed first-aid?