18th Century Wives Tales
For better sleep, health, and good luck!
Never Sleep With Your Head to the North
In India, tradition advises against sleeping with your head to the North because of negative effects from the planet’s magnetic fields. This is said to create unnecessary pressure in the brain resulting in poor quality sleep and health issues. As scientists do more research with magnetic and electromagnetic fields we may discover more truth behind this unproven concept. In the meantime why not give it a try?
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
High in vitamins, apples boost immune system, play a role in reducing cholesterol, and help prevent tooth decay. It’s even been suggested that the chemical quercetin, found in apples might be effective in protecting the brain from Alzheimer’s. Apples are great for your health — but does that actually mean you will see the doctor less? Recent studies say no — but daily apple eaters did have a statistically significant decrease in prescription drug usage. So you’ll at least avoid the pharmacist.
Sleeping Under the Moon
Ongoing research disagrees, but two recent studies seem to bear out the old idea that a full moon can disrupt your sleep. Using data from a 2000 study, Swiss researchers released findings in 2013, which indicated participants experienced a 20 minute decrease in sleep-time and poorer quality sleep when the moon was full. Researchers using data from the International Study of Childhood Obesity Lifestyle and Environment (ISCOLE) studied the effects of lunar phases on more than 5,000 children. Finding that when the moon was full there was a decrease of 1% from the amount of sleep during a new moon.
History says that in twelfth century Spain counting sheep in green lush fields was an effective cure for insomnia, but in 2002 researchers from Oxford discovered that the modern human actually takes longer to fall asleep when counting sheep. As Bing Crosby advised Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas “If you’re worried and you can’t sleep just count your blessings instead of sheep.” It seems he was right.
Early to Bed, Early to Rise…
We’d all like to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. It was Aristotle who first said, “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” Medical research does suggest that early risers generally have healthier lifestyles, and anecdotal evidence is regularly offered by news articles listing successful people who wake early.
Can Catnip Cure Colic?
Infant colic can be cause by a number of underlying issues, but one of the most common is gas. You might try an infusion (tea) of the herb catnip to calm your fussy little one. For nursing mothers, drinking fennel and catnip tea before nursing reduces digestive issues caused by stimulant foods impacting the breast milk. Or use strained catnip tea in the baby’s bottle. Catnip is in the mint family and is known to be gentle and relaxing, but always check with your pediatrician before trying new herbal remedies.
Heartburn in Pregnancy Means a Baby with Lots of Hair
This sounds odd but, surprisingly, a 2006 study done at John’s Hopkins found there was a link. They concluded that “Contrary to expectations, it appears that an association between heartburn severity during pregnancy and newborn hair does exist.” Evidently certain pregnancy hormones have a duel role, triggering heartburn and increasing fetal hair growth.
Chicken Soup for the Sick
An amino acid in chicken, called cysteine, does thin mucus. Really though, it’s the hot liquids moving the mucus around that relieves congestion. The liquids in soup also keep you hydrated letting your body heal faster. Old-fashioned chicken soup recipes typically included vinegar and garlic increasing the soups effectiveness as a cold medicine. Vinegar balances the body’s ph levels, and garlic is both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.
Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever
This proverb has been with us since the 1500s, but today we know that starving is not recommended as a cure for either condition. In fact, it’s important to continue eating and drinking enough to stay hydrated, even if you’re not hungry.
Honey Soothes a Sore Throat
Known for its anti-bacterial properties, honey is also hypertonic-osmotic; a technical way of saying it will reduce the swelling in your sore throat. New research is proving honey might be more effective than cough medicines containing dextromethorphan (DM).
Cohosh Root for PMS?
Black Cohosh (Actaea racemose) is not an herb that should be taken long term. Although a popular herbal supplements for PMS, it is better known to herbalists and doctors for its unpleasant side effects is which have a detrimental cumulative effect. Additionally, current research on black cohosh shows benefits only in relation to menopause. For PMS, try evening primrose oil instead. A study at St. Thomas Hospital in London successfully used evening primrose oil to relieve PMS, with 67% reporting complete relief.