Long before modern medicines became so widely available, families treated everyday illnesses with home-made remedies. Reused and refined year after year, they were handed down through the generations then lovingly copied into personal 'receipt' books. Grandma's Remedies brings together a beguiling collection of them, gathered from dusty medicine chests found in attics, recalled from childhoods long past, or discovered in family archives and libraries.
Many of them are surprisingly effective. Did you know, for example, that drinking two cups of strong black coffee will alleviate an asthma attack? Or that chewing toasted fennel seeds will help combat indigestion? Or that rosehip syrup is a terrific source of vitamin C?
But Grandma's Remedies is more than a guide to these traditional treatments, it also paints a vivid portrait of the world of our grandparents and great-grandparents. It shows how inventive and resourceful they were with the materials near to hand, how they made the most of everything in the store-cupboard, from bread through to vinegar, and how it was the women of the household who, despite being barred from the medical profession, were relied on to safeguard family health.
In these days of antibiotics and painkillers, it's easy to forget how people survived when all they had to rely on was a garden, a larder and a healthy dose of common sense.