A friend showed me her bowl of golden raisins and declared an Octogenarian couple she knew ate nine raisins daily for years and did not suffer arthritis. Another friend told me about “Thieves,” an essential oil mix that one rubs on the bottom of the feet to boost immunity. She also uses the medicine in a diffuser. Her husband emphasizes, “It smells very strong.” I might be skeptical, but one cannot trump successful experiences. Conversations like these remind me of Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654). He is an antecedent to why our culture has such a tug-of-war between the medical establishment (think FDA and American Medical Association) and alternative medicine practitioners.
In the 1600s, Culpeper actually failed his medical studies at Cambridge and was not licensed by the Apothecary Society in London. Those disadvantages didn’t stop him. He was a passionate herbalist, astrologer, and practitioner of physic. He was righteously angry toward establishment doctors and pharmacists who practiced medicine at exorbitant fees and kept medical writings in Latin. Culpeper disrupted their monopoly. He proceeded to translate 17th century medical information from Latin to English and offer his better receipts (recipes). One of his books, known today as Culpeper’s Herbal, remains in print. This nonconformist died at age 38 from pulmonary tuberculosis, but his legacy lives on.
Because doctors were in short supply in the colonies, many Puritan pastors used his book as they ministered to the sick. The popularity was such that The English Physician became the first medical book printed in the British American colonies in Boston in 1708. Its success helped make printer Nicholas Boone a rich man. To give you an example of Culpeper’s recipes in the language of that time, I’ve included two “receipts” below from The English Physician by Nicholas Culpeper (edited by Michael A. Flannery, 2007, University of Alabama Press). The book includes a detailed and interesting essay by Flannery on Culpeper’s medical importance.
Also, below are recipes for drunken raisins and scented Thieves. One of the secrets to the raisin mix is the medicinal properties of the juniper berry, from which gin is made. The Thieves concoction has many different tales concerning its origin. One story claims that during the Black Plague era, robbers doused themselves in various herb and spice mixes, which they found protected them as they ransacked the homes of the dead.
Let me know if you have any success with the following home remedies. I wager you are more likely to run out and buy golden raisins and gin rather than an ox bladder!
From Culpeper’s The English Physician—For the Joint Ach, and the Gout, most Excellent:
Take the Juice of Sage, Aqua Vitae, the Oil of Bays, Vinegar, Mustard, and of an Oxes Gall, of each a like quantity, put them all together in a large Ox Bladder. Tie it fast, and chase it up and down with your hand, during one hour & half, then keep it for your Use, &anoint the griev’d part Morning and Evening.
From Culpeper’s The English Physician–For an extream Cold or Cough
Take Hyssop Water 6 Ounces, red Poppy Water 4 Ounces, 6 Dates, 10 Figgs, slice them small, 1 handfull (sic) of Raisins of the Sun stoned, the weight of a Shilling of the Powder of Liquorice; put these into the said Waters, then let them stand 5 or 6 Hours upon warm Embers, close covered, but not Boil; then strain it forth, and put in as much Sugar of Roses as will sweeten it; Drink of this first and last, and at 4 in the Afternoon, four Ounces at a time.”
Drunken Raisins Recipe
1 box of golden raisins (do not substitute black raisins or dried fruit)
2 cups or more of gin–juniper berries key ingredient
Put raisins in a shallow glass container (378 raisins give you the six week supply).
Pour just enough gin over raisins to cover them.
Then, cover the container with cheesecloth or a paper towel and allow to sit at room temperature until raisins absorb the gin and the remaining liquid evaporates (about one week).
Store raisins in glass jar in refrigerator.
Each day, eat nine raisins. (Who came up with that number–why not 10?)
Believers say it takes six weeks to two months for this remedy to work, so experiment with patience.
Homemade Recipe for “Thieves”
In a dark glass bottle add the following essential oils:
40 drops of Clove Essential Oil
35 drops of Lemon Essential Oil
20 drops of Cinnamon Essential Oil
15 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
10 drops of Rosemary Essential Oil
1 drop of recipe is blended in 4 drops of carrier oil like coconut oil. At the first hint of a cold, rub on the bottom of feet at bedtime or use daily for immune support. Check out website below for ideas on other uses.
For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God (Hebrews 6:7–New King James Version).