Rosemary and Rue.
Recollections of a Forest of Dean Childhood
Out Of The Earth
"The Lord hath created medicines out of the Earth and he that is wise will not abhor them." - Ecclesiastes.
My other Grandad was a do-it-yourself physician. (He was Grandad to distinguish him from our Forest Grancher). If you had an ache or a pain anywhere he would have a "cure" for it. A true son of the soil he diligently collected various plants around the farm and carried them back to the house to be hung from the kitchen beams in spidery bunches until, sere and crackling, they could be transferred to paper bags and stored in the Dairy. The efficacy of his potions could be judged by the fact that he lived to be ninety and had only once ever had occasion to call in the doctor - and that was to treat a dislocated shoulder he sustained in an altercation with his bull.
So it was quite natural for us to be treated with various concoctions as we passed through all the stages of childish ailments. Chesty coughs would produce his "Aggermony Tea" (Agrimony). Or perhaps as an alternative it would be Coltsfoot leaves - dried and infused - this was for "wheezy" chests. Nettle stings were frequent and were soothed by the application of a bruised dock leaf; if it was a bee sting, a trip out to the pigsty was called for, to collect a couple of leaves off the houseleeks which grew in profusion on its pantiled roof. The juice of these leaves was also invaluable for styes (on the eyelids) and burns and scalds. Grandad dealt with warts by rubbing them with raw meat and then burying the meat. As it rotted your warts disappeared. It was akin to magic - but you must never tell where the meat was buried or the cure would not work!
Abdomens came in for a great deal of attention. Lemon balm tea for stomach cramps, pennyroyal ditto for the wind. Both grandparents were martyrs to "the wind." Parsley, dried or fresh was good for your kidneys and dandelion leaves in the Spring (chopped and put into a sandwich) cleared the blood. Fragrant Rosemary was a more pleasant remedy - in tea if you had a headache, or, more popularly, in the rainwater with which we washed our hair.
Luckily we didn't suffer with corns or we would have been running around with our socks full of ivy leaves. Grandad was also partial to the tiny bright. yellow-flowered tormentil which flourished along the paths around the farm.
Known to him as "tarment" he used it, fresh or dried as an infusion in which he bathed his feet. What with his bunions, hammer toes and corns this old not seem to be one of his most successful remedies.