This 9th Century Cure Works!

This 9th Century Cure Works!

Posted by Janice Stillman on 6th Mar 2020

One for a Man, Two for a Horse

Folk remedies linking us with our animals are as ancient and mysterious, as our mutual dependence. But do they really work? Find out in The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Dear Connoisseur of Folk Remedies,

Your dog may think that a roll in the mud is the perfect skin care regimen. Chances are, you don’t agree. And, unlike your cat, you probably enjoy a hot shower after a long day. Those differences aside, humans and animals have a number of common practices when it comes to skin care and even dealing with menacing maladies.

In the 1800s, Pratt’s Healing Ointment claimed to be “good for cuts, burns, galls, scratches, or other diseases on either man or beast.” The dosage instructions were quite simple: one for a man and two for a horse. Although Pratt’s is no longer available, other products have filled the gap.

In 1899, a Vermont pharmacist invented a healing balm to soothe sore cow udders. It didn’t take long for the balm to cross species boundaries. Bag Balm has long claimed that the ointment is “not just for cows anymore,” and their website recommends the balm for moisturizing “every member of the household … right down to the family dog.”

Fast-forward to 1970, and you’ll find the owners of a horse farm in New Jersey creating an equine shampoo and conditioner to treat lusterless manes. By the 1980s, Mane ’n Tail had become a favorite of humans, too.

Not all curatives were so benign. A 12th-century illustration of a man pierced with arrows wielded by little flying manikins with pointy hats alludes to the fear of being shot by malevolent elves. The manifestations of being “elfshotten” included fever, shivering, cramps, and madness. The cure for these symptoms, for both animal and human, included …

Well, we can’t give everything away. After all, we don’t want to disclose the elves’ weakness and make them angry, because the cure is not something that we’d like to experience—but we can let you in on the secret if you join The Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club.

Medieval Remedies That Work

Even though plenty of medieval remedies are steeped in the supernatural, some of them are amazingly effective.

In fact, a medieval-era medical handbook encourages practical hygiene over magic or spiritual beliefs for maintaining health. Another medical manual from 9th-century England includes a number of proven treatments for such things as aching joints, sore muscles, diarrhea, constipation, worms, and other vermin. According to Bald’s Leechbook (“leech” was a word for “physician” at that time), many ailments could be addressed by applications of herbs and potions. While the recommended magical spells may be questionable, a 2015 experiment found that a ancient remedy for an eye infection proved an effective curative for certain staph infections.

And lest you think all of those folk remedies are a thing of the past, may we point out that in 20th-century North Carolina, some farmers bury a dime under their hog pens to keep witches away? As for your turkeys, if you find that they are bewitched, throw a handful of salt on the fire to cure them. Chuckle if you will, but can you prove that these remedies don’t work?

Home and Husbandry

The curious folklore that weaves our well-being with our beloved animals suggests that we feel connected to them, even in these modern times. However, according to a study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, this may be more than just a feeling.

The study, published in 2017, claims to be the first to show a correlation between dairy farm exposure and reduced respiratory illness. So, what is good for animals may indeed be good for us. Certainly, few could argue the importance of fresh air, sunshine, and the company of a four-legged friend.

Wondering how to cure yourself from malaria, what “Strong Horse Tea” is and what it’s for (and why it probably tastes horrendous), or why you should never ask a Texas rancher how many head of cattle he or she has? You can discover the answers to all of these questions, including what to do if you happen to get “elfshotten,” with an Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership!

Your membership in The Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club gives you the brand-new edition of the Almanac, the full-color monthly EXTRA! digital magazine, plus a bundle of BONUSES where you can learn more about astronomy, astrology, folklore, gardening, and so much more information on a range of useful topics—all with just a pinch of wit and humor. With an Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership, you’ll learn more about:

  • What to expect from the weather all year long
  • Natural treatments for sore muscles, neck pain, and the dreaded canker sore
  • The science behind last year’s record-breaking winter weather
  • How your dog is training you


You’ll also get timely weather stories in our monthly Almanac EXTRA!—a treasure trove of digital updates and Almanac content not found in the printed edition, including access to audio and video multimedia content. EXTRA! is far more interactive and fun than plain printed pages!

Get full access to everything under the Sun, including the Moon, weather, vegetable and flower gardening, folklore, nature, home remedies, and more—with your Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership!

Introducing The Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership! This new and exciting club is designed especially for you—and it’s packed with articles, advice, best days, facts, and fun that you cannot get anywhere else!

Your Charter Membership gives you all the elements of a true almanac—a “calendar of the heavens” and a “time capsule of the year” for 2020, plus some fantastic bonuses when you join today. More about those bonuses in a minute.

Since 1792—in fact, every day since!—The Old Farmer’s Almanac has been trusted and enjoyed by folks from all walks of life: people who grow their own food depend on the planting dates; home cooks, gardeners, and folks hungry for something quick and delicious love the recipes; just about everybody checks on the Moon phases and sunrise and set times … as well as the weather forecasts … to know what to expect on any given day, week, month, or season.

With The Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership, you’ll have content that is both useful and humorous. You’ll discover quirky facts, timeless adages and advice, amusing quotes and profound proverbs, contests, Anecdotes and Pleasantries, Best Days to do things (from fishing to weaning from planting to setting eggs, for example), and so much more!

Your Charter Membership gives you everything that you’ve come to expect and depend on in an Almanac—valuable and accurate content and advice. In fact, fulfillment of readers’ expectations has made our Almanac the best-known and most sought after Almanac for generations.

Did you know? The Old Farmer’s Almanac is the oldest continuously published periodical in North America! We got started with this valuable content in 1792—when George Washington was president and the U.S. Post Office Department was first established . . . and we’ve been at it ever since then, for 228 years!

People always ask how and why our Almanac has lasted—and continues to be a best seller. The answer is simple: We stay true to the original mission of founder Robert B. Thomas, who declared in an early edition, “Our main endeavour is to be useful, with a pleasant degree of humor.”

We believe that, especially in today’s trying times, finding humor and enjoyment in daily life is important and can be uplifting, and we hope you like our light-hearted fun and find the joy in chuckling at our witty and inspiring words.

This will make you smile, too: Every edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac is fresh, new, and designed to make the year one of the best ever. How do we do that? With entertaining and informative articles. With your Charter Membership, you’ll be able to read about:

  • Foolproof advice for growing your own food, whatever your experience level.
  • Timetables and advice for spotting meteor showers, bright stars, conjunctions, and other fascinating astronomical events.
  • Daily weather forecasts for every region of the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Fresh new ways to savor your garden harvest, including winning reader-submitted recipes.
  • “Adventures in the Zodiac Zone”—what’s behind the Sun and Moon?
  • The “full” explanation of if and why more strange things happen during a full Moon than at other times.
  • And more—almost 300 pages of riveting content!


Plus, charts, maps, and photos bring it all to life for you—making every article and every table easy to understand and follow.

But that’s just the beginning! Here’s just some of what else you’ll discover in the 2020 Almanac:

  • Growing Farmers: stories, inspiration, and advice from the folks who grow our food. Find out how farmers are adapting to changing times to keep their farms productive.
  • Looking for a little peace and quiet? Aren’t we all! Find out why that is becoming more of a challenge in “A Sound History of Noise.”
  • Timetables and advice for spotting meteor showers, bright stars, conjunctions, and other fascinating astronomical events.
  • Best days for planting, pruning, weeding, grafting, and controlling pests, plus tips on fine-tuning your phenology skills for a more fruitful, vibrant garden.
  • Fresh new ways to enjoy coconuts. From fresh to toasted, curry to cream pie and beyond, prepare for a tasty adventure.
  • Easy, delicious, and Almanac prize-winning recipes that take pasta to a new, delicious level.
  • Ready for a little old-time fun? Find out the story behind the game of horseshoes.
  • Need to take care of some aches and pains? Read our article on some home remedies you can make that are just as good (or better) than what you can buy.
  • The “full” explanation of if and why more strange things happen during a full Moon than at other times.
  • They say that dog is man’s best friend. Find out the story behind that in “How Dogs Train People.”
  • Thinking of getting chickens? Read “A Chicken in Every Plot” to learn the benefits (and risks) of having chickens in and around your garden.
  • 2020 is a leap year, so we’re celebrating with a look at all the different ways leaping has made its way into fun, games, science, sports, and more.
  • Donkeys come in many colors and a wide range of sizes. Learn more about these social creatures in “Burro Into This.”
  • Take a (virtual) nature hike on Snake Road and learn how the last ice age shaped the land.
  • All this and too much more to mention for nearly 300 pages of riveting content!


Plus, the Almanac’s easy-to-follow charts, maps, and photos bring it all to life for you—making it all easy to understand and use.

An Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership will deliver exciting rewards for you—and for a special introductory rate right now, to all new Charter Members.

When you join today, you’ll ensure that you get the latest details about Almanac events and forecasts—and you’ll enjoy all these benefits:

  • Your best garden ever—Almanac gardening advice, planting dates, time-saving tips, and detailed guidance from experts will get you growing like never before.
  • You’ll know in advance about every important astronomical event in 2020—when they’re happening, where in the sky, and the details and delights of each one.
  • You’ll have access to the world’s best source of Almanac content—from astronomy and weather to anniversaries and milestone dates; from important (and little known) holidays and religious events to traditional days in calendar folklore.
  • You’ll save time and money when you follow all the practical advice and tips that we deliver to you about everything from gardening to food preparation and cooking.
  • You’ll be a weather expert in your family and circle of friends—no one else you know will have the detailed knowledge about forecasting and weather that you’ll have . . . and for every region of the country!

How can you not consider becoming an Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Member?

What you’ll get with an Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership.

When you claim your Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership today, your Charter membership will include:

  • The Old Farmer’s 2020 Almanac—Our newest edition, the hard-copy version will be shipped to you with everything you’ve come to expect from the world’s premier almanac.
  • Bonus #1: The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2020 Gardening Wall Calendar. Each month features a beautiful full-color original illustration of seasonal plant or animal life, as well as timeless gardening secrets and advice, folklore, fun facts, and holidays—plus Moon phases to help you use the “Planting by the Moon” chart and have your best garden ever!
  • Bonus #2: The Old Farmer’s Almanac 1820 edition—A printed version will be shipped to you with your order. Take a trip down memory lane and see what one of our early Almanacs looked like! It’s a time capsule of life 200 years ago!
  • Bonus #3: The Old Farmer’s Almanac 1920 edition—A printed version will be shipped to you with your order. Another classic Almanac, this takes you back a century: Compare the content then and now!
  • Bonus #4: The Old Farmer’s Almanac EXTRA! —A treasure trove of digital updates and Almanac content not found in the printed edition, including audio and video multimedia content. EXTRA! is far more interactive and fun than plain printed pages!
  • Bonus #5: Complete access to our EXTRA! library, with 40+ digital issues at your fingertips any time!

And all of this is available to you—right now—when you claim your Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership.

What are you waiting for? This Charter Membership offer is in effect for you right now!

No other Almanac has so many fun and fascinating facts, timely and accurate events and predictions, and topical and useful articles all in one place for your easy access and use—and covering more regions of North America than any other almanac or resource!

Why not join right now?

Gardeners, weather and sky watchers, and nature lovers everywhere have been enjoying The Old Farmer’s Almanac for generations, and now it’s easier than ever for YOU to experience it all with an Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership.

When we created this new club for folks like you, we wanted to make it easy to use, easy to order, and packed with content and value—that’s why we named it the “Best Value Club”! The Almanac is the ultimate resource for gardening, astronomy, folklore, nature, and more, and now it can be all yours with your Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Membership.

Why not be among the first—gardeners in your neighborhood; weather and astronomy watchers under the Sun; cooks in your community; trivia fans in your circle; nature-lovers in your area—to join us today and benefit from all the valuable Almanac information that you simply cannot get anywhere else?

Become an Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club Charter Member today—while this special offer lasts!

Sincerely,

Janice Stillman
Editor, The Old Farmer’s Almanac

P.S. You should act today to claim your Charter Membership in The Old Farmer’s Almanac Best Value Club—including your 2020 issue of the Almanac …and your bonuses, too!