American Folk Remedies for the Post-Obamacare Age

Let the healing begin, patriots!

The health care crisis in the United States is not the result of too few Americans enjoying access to health insurance, but too many. After all, the long Obamacare nightmare from which we will soon (Congress willing) awake has only served to undermine America’s native moxie. Did our Pilgrim and pioneer forebears race screaming to an insurance rep every time Johnny was concussed by a rambunctious plow horse or little Ellie was savaged by wolverines? They did not! They took matters into their own capable hands. In light of their example — and as elected officials bravely work to repeal the Affordable Care Act, effectively freeing millions of Americans from the Nanny State’s shackles — let us recall some sensible remedies to common ailments that were familiar to Americans long before elitist fads like x-rays, preventive care and affordable antibiotics turned us all into milksops.

The Trouble: The Marthambles, a.k.a, Sailor’s Lament, or Isaac’s Pillory
The Treatment: Blanch four pussy willow catkins in brine. While concoction cools, make a rosary of yew-berries. Loop rosary thrice around right wrist. Mix briny catkins with gunpowder. Load musket. Face south. Fire. Repeat at other cardinal compass points.

The Trouble: Ear Overkill
The Treatment: Place affected ear flat against top of nearest stone wall during fife and drum muster. If both ears are affected, cup one and then the other, quickly alternating between the two, using a tin beaker cooled in the nearest stream. Do not stand on one foot nor on both feet during treatment but have both feet in motion, without appearing to dance, throughout.

The Trouble: Davey’s Slow Toe
The Treatment: Apply moist heat to the leaner flank of the family’s second-best cow. Pray for a whirlwind.

The Trouble: Sinner’s Rhubarb
The Treatment: In early stage, tuck mint sprigs behind patient’s eyelids in order to distract him (or, less commonly, her) from pendulous groin buboes. If symptoms intensify, or laughter grows sardonic, place two fox pups beneath an upside-down canoe, sit the patient three furlongs from least-righteous neighbor’s barn and orally administer heroic doses of powdered cochineal via oak and deerskin bellows.

The Trouble: Bowel Monkeys
The Treatment: Avoid wheat, barley, and rye. And monkeys.
 
The Trouble: Cranial Wereshadows
The Treatment: Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection nor be cynical about love. For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings, for many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Also, apply a leech behind each ear.

The Trouble: Abigail’s Woe, a.k.a, Jacob’s Shame
The Treatment: A dozen raw oysters, a half-gallon of hard cider, and a fiddle played soft and low. Rare but serious side effects include extended appearances by the beast with two backs and sudden-onset dry-humping.

The Trouble: Freethinker’s Palsy
The Treatment: Heat a kettle of salt water to boiling. Pour one imperial pint of scalding water into an iron funnel, plugged at the spout with a parson’s kerchief. Drip water into sufferer’s throat until imagination is becalmed, or blessed oblivion drowns him.

The Trouble: Horse-and-Goat Mouth
The Treatment: Powder of one dried bog onion — also known as Jack-in-the-pulpit, Jane-in-the-dungeon, Marvin-in-the-sarcophagus, and Indian turnip — liberally sprinkled on oat cake. Bury oat cake in graveyard when wind is from the west. Apologize to horse and goat.

Image: Shawn Harquail

The Trouble: Moon Fever
The Treatment: Before attempting treatment, confirm diagnosis, as Moon Fever closely resembles and is often mistaken for the far more noxious malady, Falstaff’s Gullet. If clearly the former, dunk the village’s eldest maiden in the deepest part of the parish’s smallest pond. Repeat until fever lifts. If the former, entrap village’s oldest bachelor for one night beneath wealthiest citizen’s porch. Note: If wealthiest citizen is also village’s oldest bachelor, raze village and rebuild exact replica 30 miles due north.
 
The Trouble: Goode and Plentye
The Treatment: Adhere to community’s creed: Feed a cold, starve a Papist.
 
The Trouble: The Red Tenders, a.k.a, Beelzebub’s Handmaiden and, in the marshes of eastern Rhode Island, a Sucking Chest Wound
The Treatment: Obtain three large sheets of birch bark. Secure each to each with catamount sinew. Brace with baleen. Arc sheets above silver gimbals in which unscented candles burn for three days and one night. Disengage sinew and baleen from bark. Join sheets of bark together once again, using wax from hand-dipped candle to seal at seams. Use resulting structure as a shroud; Beelzebub’s Handmaiden is a remorseless, deathly bitch.