Sunday, March 13, 2016

Folk Medicine in the Civil War -- the South

From: healingwith-herbs.blogspot.com, 10-28-13

Much of the suffering in the war was because of a rapidly declining supply of medicine in the South as blockades restricted importation of all essentials.

When enemy camps were overrun, speculators raided the medical stores capturing morphine, quinine and chloroform to resell at 50 times their original value. It was such a problem that General Lee called upon the secretary of war to put an end to the practice.

In anticipation of this supply problem, surgeon Maj. Francis Perye Porcher set about creating a manual on indigenous botanical substitutes titled “Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests, Medical, Economic and Agricultural.”

Published in 1863, the 600-page book was distributed to medical officers to help aid the sick and wounded. It is said to have helped so many that Confederates were able to hold off the Union Army for two additional years.

Malaria was a major problem in the South.  Eupatorium, known as boneset, was a substitute for quinine and also used to treat typhus.

Malaria became a constant problem where insects swarmed like a plague in swamps, marshes and bayous.

Porcher prescribes “Boneset tea used hot, in the cold stages of malarial fever, and cold in the hot stages.

It is also known to be used by slaves of the southern plantations to treat typhus and is so noted as a useful application by Porcher.


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