Garden blogs

Apothecary Anecdotes: Memories Cabinet


Here are some of the items in the memories cabinet, opposite the counter and just left of the central area.

The inclusion of these items has been inspired by comments from visitors.

Grasshopper Ointment  

Used for treating warts and chilblains. It contains Arachis Oil (Peanut Oil) and copper acetate, which made it green.

One story about the name is that it refers to an old custom of applying live grasshoppers to warts and chilblains to remove them.  Another story, more unlikely, is that in Southern France a mantis would be cut in half and rubbed over the affected area.

Seidlitz Powders  

A two-part mix, one of which was sodium potassium tartrate and bicarbonate of soda, the other being tartaric acid.  Mix together, add water, and drink the fizzing mixture.  Used as a laxative and for the general improvement of digestion.  The name is said to be derived from the village of Sedlec in the Czech Republic, which was famous for its mineral spa water. However, Seidlitz powders bear little or no resemblance to the spa water.

Dog Oil

Main ingredients were Rapeseed oil and Petroleum jelly.  It was originally used in the 1920s for soothing muscles of racing dogs before and after racing.  The dog masseurs soon realised that it was very useful for easing their own arthritic and muscle pains.

Cadum Ointment

Main ingredients were Cade oil, which is a tarry substance obtained from prickly juniper ( not the same as the juniper used to flavour gin), plus salicylic acid, which is a precursor of aspirin.

Uses include anti-acne, dandruff, head lice, but should be used with great care on children, as Cade oil can produce severe allergic reactions.

Kruschen Salts

Main ingredients are household salt, magnesium sulphate, and potassium chloride. Very similar in makeup and use to modern sports ” isotonic” drinks but without the sugars. Used to treat muscle cramps, dehydration due to excess sweating and / or repeated vomiting and diarrhoea.