Old Wives’ Tales: The History of Remedies, Charms and Spells

While this wasn’t what I had hoped it would be (a collection of old wives’ tales, their history and basis in fact or fiction), it was a very interesting read.

A good, healthy dose of often-overlooked history, this gives a decent overview of women’s roles in the healing arts and sciences from ancient times through the 20th century.

There’s a pretty heavy feminist slant, of course, as the “bad MEN of modern medicine” marginalize and minimize women’s knowledge and participation!

While this wasn’t what I had hoped it would be (a collection of old wives’ tales, their history and basis in fact or fiction), it was a very interesting read.

A good, healthy dose of often-overlooked history, this gives a decent overview of women’s roles in the healing arts and sciences from ancient times through the 20th century.

There’s a pretty heavy feminist slant, of course, as the “bad MEN of modern medicine” marginalize and minimize women’s knowledge and participation, pushing them into the rather questionable role of midwife/abortionist.

It does get a bit old, though, to be told over and over how backward modern (male) medical treatments are compared to the oh-so-wise-and-in-touch-with-nature treatments proffered by the old wives, such as wearing red flannel around the neck to ease a sore throat.

It seemed to me that neither the old wives nor the medical scientists had any kind of monopoly on sound medical advice — or on ridiculous quack treatments. This book would have come across as far more fair and logical if it had acknowledged this point a bit more readily.

One of the most fascinating parts of the book is the listing of remedies at the end.

There are a few which do have actual medical efficacy, but most are silly, bizarre, or even grotesque instructions for “curing” everything from acne to plague.

While this was amusing, it would have been far more interesting to learn a bit more about how these “cures” were derived.

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at www.goodreads.com

   

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