View Full Version : early 1800s treatment for nausea/vomiting

03-13-2012, 09:57 PM
Does someone know what herb or medicine might be given to someone who was nauseated and vomiting in the early 1800s?

Thank you for your help.

Drachen Jager
03-13-2012, 10:04 PM
These passages are from a 100 year old book, not 200, but hopefully it helps.

General Instructions: With some people, the discomfort can be cleared up quickly by chewing hard, common cloves. With others, it takes something a little more potent such as catnip, peach leaves, peppermint, raspberry leaves, spearmint or sweet balm. A few drops of tincture of lobelia or antispasmodic tincture [Anti-Spasmodic Formula Tincture] is very good. A combination of cinnamon, cloves, spearmint, and Turkey rhubarb will bring good results when used as prescribed later in the book. [SNH p.37]

Nausea, Vomiting (especially during pregnancy): See formula using Turkey rhubarb, spearmint, cinnamon and cloves. [SNH p.187]

Vomiting and Nausea of Pregnancy: Use spearmint tea alone, or for an excellent combination, see [SNH p.239] formula using spearmint, cloves, cinnamon and turkey rhubarb. [SNH p.240]

European Pennyroyal: Give the infusion in teacupful doses, repeated frequently (every 1-2 hours), and when the herb is unavailable, 1-3 drops of the oil in warm water is excellent. [SNH p.283]

Strong Decoction of Wild Yam: See formula using wild yam, distilled water and glycerine. [SNH p.403]

Nausea in Pregnancy: See formula using cloves powder and white poplar or quaking aspen bark powder. [SNH p.422]

Golden Seal: Golden Seal is said to alleviate nausea during pregnancy, combined half-and-half with ginger and put into capsules, to be taken with spearmint tea every few hours. This is one of the few applications of Golden Seal during pregnancy because of its possible overuse and toxicity. [UW-Golden Seal]

Peach: Peach bark is most well-known for its action against diarrhea. An infusion or a few capsules are said to stop cases of difficult diarrhea almost immediately. However, if the system is constipated Peach tree leaves are an excellent, gentle laxative. Evidently the medicine regulates the eliminatory tract whatever the problem.
This balancing effect may explain a very important use of Peach bark; the relief of the nausea and vomiting of morning sickness in pregnancy. Anyone who has suffered this problem will be glad to know of a possible Peachy solution. Two to four tablespoons of the tea are to be taken first thing each morning and the same dosage continued if necessary every one to two hours. The tea may prepared the night before and refrigerated, reheating in the morning to take first thing. Dr. Eric Powell of England pointed out that if some do not respond to the infusion they usually react positively and immediately to the fresh plant tincture of the bark, the dose of which is about five drops in a little tepid water (Luc:Herbal:163-4). [UW-Peach]

Dr. Christopher's Anti-Nausea Formula: Use the anti-nausea formula, which is 1 ounce each of the following herbs: powdered cinnamon, powdered cloves, and powdered nutmeg. Simmer in one pint of water five to ten minutes. Do not boil, pour this decoction over four ounces of spearmint leaves and steep for twenty minutes. Strain, sweeten with honey and use from a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful or more as needed. Super Garlic Immune: Dr. Christopher's Immune System Support Formula may also be used. [NL 1-3]

Siri Kirpal
03-13-2012, 10:06 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I don't know the answer to that question myself. But if you go to the Historical section of this forum, there's a thread titled "Resources by Era." You might be able to find the answer there.


Siri Kirpal

03-13-2012, 10:07 PM
Educated guess: Ginger tea made with real ginger root, if your setting is in a place where they can get it.

Ginger products are still recommended for their ability to reduce nausea and vomiting. When my husband had chemo, he swore by real ginger ale, allowed to go flat. I think he only puked once.

Maryn, TMI

03-13-2012, 10:24 PM
thank you all for your suggestions! I really appreciate the help. I think i need something that can be used without much preparation. Basically, a "here put this in your mouth" kind of thing. I will look into all of the wonderful suggestions you have given me. This is around the 1812-1820 time period. Thank you again.

03-13-2012, 10:35 PM
What part of the world is the sufferer in? Some countries had pharmacies that would have had ready prepared 'cures'.

03-13-2012, 10:41 PM
1800s Los Angeles California is where it is located.

03-13-2012, 10:42 PM
My great grandma has a recipe for ginger and lemon tea, used for nausea. From what I gather, ginger has been used to medicate dodgy stomachs for quite some time.

03-13-2012, 10:53 PM
thank you! Ginger seems to be a good thing for a tea. I am wondering if there is something that might be kept as a tonic or syrup or could be chewed on that would ease nausea or vomiting. Something that doesn't need to be brewed or prepared. If not, the ginger tea seems the appropriate answer. I may have to re-think some things. Thank you again, for all of your quick replies.

Siri Kirpal
03-14-2012, 02:04 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Crystallized ginger works just about as well as ginger tea. (And I'm surprised I forgot that earlier.) You could have the family have some on hand that they usually use at Christmas.


Siri Kirpal

03-14-2012, 02:09 AM
My first thought when I saw this thread was peppermint (as noted in DJ's earlier post). I'm not sure about Southern California, but it's native around here; it grows along shady creek banks.

03-14-2012, 05:41 AM
I have been looking into Peppermint... wasn't sure about how it would be available, in what form. Also wasn't sure when crystalized ginger was first kept on hand. Is anyone sure?
I even thought about just having him chew on a piece of ginger root.

Siri Kirpal
03-14-2012, 05:46 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Not sure about your timeline, but peppermint grew in Southern California when I lived there, starting in the late 1950s.

Crystallized ginger has been around for a long time. It would be much more likely in that era than fresh ginger would.


Siri Kirpal

03-14-2012, 05:52 AM
my timeline is 1812 -1820.

03-14-2012, 06:12 AM
I think i need something that can be used without much preparation. Basically, a "here put this in your mouth" kind of thing.

Lobelia tincture would be used just be placing a few drops in the mouth, however the tincture would need to have been prepared ahead of time.

Slippery Elm Bark works wonders and would be quick also, but it would need be prepared ahead of time. I actually gave this to a friend that had nausea and vomiting so severe in her pregnancies that she would need to be hospitalized for dehydration. It worked wonders for her. No, I'm not a medical person, or a midwife, but I am a Certified Herbalist. "Apostate" Herbalist according to my husband ;)

If there is no time to prepare in advance, then an herbal tea would be the quickest. You might want to research which one would be most likely to grow in that area. Ginger, peppermint, spearmint, red raspberry leaf. . .

03-14-2012, 06:18 AM
I can have it made up and on hand.. i just can't have them stop to make it. Thank you so much. Those might be just what i needed! Would they be easy to make and kept in bottles ready for use if needed?

03-14-2012, 07:35 AM
My grandfather gave us strawberry leaves (tea) and/or marshmallow plant. Those certainly are available in the US wild; those are NA home remedies.

I've heard ginger a lot, too, and we do have wild ginger that grows in US forests. All of these do, but be aware that none of them like it baked and dry like our West can often be. Think forest or high elevation :)

03-14-2012, 07:38 AM
I can have it made up and on hand.. i just can't have them stop to make it. Thank you so much. Those might be just what i needed! Would they be easy to make and kept in bottles ready for use if needed?

Oh, yeah. Just make a tea, basically, with whiskey instead of water. Those keep fine done with most herbs.

03-14-2012, 09:37 PM
Brandy. That's what my grandmother gave me as a child. I loved the warm feeling it gave me and I'd soon forget about my stomach ache or nausea.

(She often felt a 'little ill' so she often drank it.)

She was born in 1903 but said it was something her mother's mother used to do, so I figure that's back fairly close to your time.

03-14-2012, 10:50 PM
Oh, yeah. Just make a tea, basically, with whiskey instead of water. Those keep fine done with most herbs.

You can also use vodka or apple cider vinegar. :)

03-15-2012, 05:36 AM
Since many pregnant women struggle with nausea, it would be good to mention that European Pennyroyal is NOT safe for pregnant women. It is considered one of the "abortive herbs". Although, attempts to use it for abortions seem to either fail or be dangerous for the mother and child.

http://christopherhobbsmedia.com/database/herb.php?Herb_ID=197 (http://christopherhobbsmedia.com/database/herb.php?Herb_ID=197)

The Pennyroyal's reputation as an abortive herb comes from it's use by midwives to help with delivery of the placenta and also to help the uterus clamp down when there is excessive bleeding after the birth.

At any rate, pennyroyal is not a good herb for pregnant women, and I would not recommend it for abortion either.

03-15-2012, 11:55 AM
...She was born in 1903 but said it was something her mother's mother used to do, so I figure that's back fairly close to your time.

Yep, same here! My grandfather was literally born the same year :)

03-15-2012, 07:27 PM
What about ginger cookies? I seem to recall reading a historical novel recently where someone was given ginger cookies when they were feeling ill. As long as they contain real ginger, they'd probably do the trick.

I can testify to ginger's anti-nausea properties, as well. Back when I was on a certain birth control pill, it gave me severe nausea in the mornings, mimicking morning sickness. If I had to take two pills because I'd forgotten one the day before--forget it. I'd be puking. Someone recommended ginger to me, so I started taking ginger pills every day, and they stopped the nausea! I was surprised that it worked, but it did a great job.

03-17-2012, 09:45 PM
In terms of medicine (i.e., chemical, as opposed herbal remedies), calomel was quite popular for almost anything that ailed or caused bad "humours" in the early 1800s U.S. and Britain.

Ironically (and sadly), it was poisonous (mercurous chloride). It was widely sold in pill form.


03-20-2012, 08:22 AM
Ginger would be my guess as well. Gingerale, ginger cookies, ginger tea. Look at some homeopathic remedies and you might be able to cross reference with location as to what is local.

03-20-2012, 08:37 AM
Licorice was popular, but nowdays its known to increase blood preassure.