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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/176

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172
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

To cure cramp it is only necessary to wear garters of eel-skin, or to invert the sufferer's shoes under his bed at night. Herpes, or shingles, should be rubbed with blood from a black cat's tail or from a black fowl's neck. Treatment should be prompt, as it is thought that the patient will certainly die if the inflammation completely encircles the body.

Negroes seem especially subject to inflammation of the uvula, an ailment known among them as 'falling palate.' In Orangeburg County the favorite treatment consists in pressing the uvula upward with the back of a silver spoon, at the same time pulling strongly at a tuft of hair on the top of the head. Many negroes cultivate a tuft of hair, for this purpose, over the middle of the forehead. In another mode of treatment the uvula is supposed to be driven up into its proper place by smart blows administered with a stick upon the soles of the feet.

Warts and corns are everywhere the object of many superstitious practises. In South Carolina the owner of these excrescences may take his choice of several remedies. He may select a broom straw having as many joints as there are warts to be removed, pick the warts until they bleed, and put a drop of blood from each wart upon a joint of the culm, then bury the straw under the eaves of the house. Or he may count the warts and tie in a string the same number of knots, and bury the string. Another method is to rub each wart with a pea, and bury the peas in the same way. Still another is as follows: Tie as many knots in a string as there are warts to be removed; blindfold the patient and lead him about until he is lost; then give him the string, which he should bury in the ground, unobserved by any one. As the string decays the warts will disappear. Corns may be removed by rubbing them with a grain of corn and then feeding the grain to the oldest fowl in the yard. This last remedy comes from a very old negro woman, still living, who was brought from Africa in her childhood; but this may not mean that the remedy is African in origin.

An old lady, whose parents were Scotch-Irish, gives the following remedy for bleeding of the nose: Let the nose bleed on three pieces of cloth, put these in three holes bored into as many different kinds of fruit-bearing trees, and stop the holes. This will result in a permanent cure. A gruesome drink for epilepsy is a tea made of a piece of rope with which some one has been hanged. Equally repulsive is a reputed remedy for chills and fever, consisting of pills made of dried and pulverized earthworms. Risings and boils may be cured by the touch of one who has crushed a ground-mole to death in his hands.

Either from the great number of ailments to which they are subject or from their helplessness, or possibly from both causes combined, infants claim a large share of magical medical practise. When a baby is born an axe is sometimes placed under the mother's couch with the