Robert Walker’s Weekend Wondering | OPINION, July 15, 2017

THE first home-remedy I remember having inflicted upon me was for my first toothache.

My mother followed the advice of one of the “wise old women” who lived in our flats and a clove was popped in my mouth, up against the gammy tooth.

Apart from poking them into the Christmas ham in obsessively manic patterns, this is the only other known use for cloves.

I don’t know how the ham feels about it, but in the mouth all they do is create such foulness that you’re happy to have the toothache to take your mind off the taste.

The ancient Egyptians were also pretty canny when it came to matters medical with a toothache cure featuring a crushed up mouse added to a few other bibs and bobs applied to the tooth; I bet they were too clever to use cloves unless they fed them to the mouse to kill it and, by the by, any left-over mouse could be liberally applied to warts.

Suffering from a knife wound or particularly deep paper cut?

Seventeenth century boffin Sir Kenelm Digby (I kid you not) invented a concoction made of worms, pig brain, rust and bits of mummified corpses which was then applied, not to the wound but to the offending piece of cutlery. The idea was that this worked by “sympathetic magic” as Kenny called it.

The knife, broadsword or what-have-you gets the message that it’s done the wrong sort of thing and sends out its vibes to heal the wound faster.

NSW RL captain Boyd Cordner used an “energy healer” leading up to Origin 3.

His calf injury apparently wasn’t a calf injury at all but a “blockage of electricity in the muscle”.

This can be cured in a jiffy it seems, by any energy healer worth his salt, simply by waving his hands over the blockage and sometimes giving it a gentle prod with a fingertip.

In the game, the NSW team unfortunately “energy handled” the ball, waving their hands anywhere but on it, prodding it occasionally with their fingertips.

You might snigger at blokes tuning up the body’s electrical circuitry but it’s not that far removed from acupuncture where the patient becomes a human peg-board for pins that allegedly channel the same sort of “energy” along little ley-lines that no-one has ever seen.

And do we laugh at that? No-siree, we don’t because everyone knows that the Chinese are Very Clever so they must be on to something, mustn’t they!

We thought we were Very Clever up until the 1950s when arsenic was the best cure-all going. Used to knock out everything from malaria to arthritis and syphilis to diabetes, it had also been a popular cosmetic during Victorian times, its minor drawback being that while it slowly poisoned the entire system, it made hair fall out and skin peel off.

Still, women do love their lippy and powder puffs almost as much as their high heels.

Speaking of which, a recent study shows that poor shoe choices are the main cause of foot pain.

You could, of course, get an energy healer to waggle his fingers at your sore ankles but just giving up those six-inch stilettos will do a much better job of it

In the 18th and 19th centuries, doctors would cut off half the tongue to cure stuttering.

One assumes that the remaining bit got the hint of what the next step was likely to be and behaved itself appropriately; still, better than sucking a clove.