Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Terrific Burn Medicine

This is an excerpt from Heinerman's Encyclopedia of Healing Herbs & Spices.

Terrific Burn Medicine

The February 1911 Bulletin of the History of Medicine (15: 143-49) contained a most informative article by medical historian Henry F. Sigerist entitled "Ambroise Pare's Onion Treatment of Burns." Pare was a famous French surgeon (1510-1590) who was looking for a simpler, easier and more effective remedy for burns than the standard cooling ointments of his day. He discovered it in a most remarkable way in Peidmont around 1537. At that time he was a young surgeon of 27 and was attached to the army of the Marshal de Montejan in the third war between Francis I and Charles V. ONe of the kitchen boys employed by this Marshal "fell by chance into a Caldron of Oyle being even almost boyling hot," Pare later recounted in his memoirs. The good doctor was immediately called on to attend to the poor lad's injuries. He quickly went to the local apothecaries "to fetch refrigerating medicines commonly used in this case," when he met "by chance a certaine old countrey woman, who ...perswaded mee...that I should lay to raw Onions beaten with a little salt" on the boy's injured skin. "Wherefore," he continued, "I thought good to try the force of her Medicine unpon this greasy scullion. I the next day found those places of his body whereto the Onions lay, to be free from blisters, but the other parts which they had not touched, to be all blistered."

And so came abouit Pare's famous onion dressing for all degrees of minor or serious burns. He soon had occasion to use it on some soldiers who were unfortunate enough to have some gunpowder explode in front of them, severely burning their hands and faces. In a mortar and pestle, Pare crushed slices of onion with a little salt and applied this dressing to part of their injuries and regular ointments to the other part. He recorded: "I observed the part dressed with the Onions quite free from blisters and excoriation, the other [covered only with ointments) being troubled by both..."

On more than one occasion have I recommended that freshly expressed onion juice be mixed with a pinch of salt and applied directly to even the worst burn and left overnight, with fantastic results the next day. This may be a folk remedy from the Middle Ages, but it was constantly tested by a competent doctor of the times and always proven to be effective. My own experience with the same thing through the years has only confirmed what Pare himself discovered and proved as valid therapy for burns.

End Excerpt.

Wow. I'm not at all anxious to get another burn, but I guarantee you that I'll definitely try this for myself! I can just imagine, post-crash, and someone gets badly burned and there's no medical help around. Burns can be very dangerous wounds and hard to handle. Onions and salt to the rescue? These simple kitchen items would at least be available to most folks, and just pounding up some onion slices with salt and applying the onion dressing to the burn is so easy a child could do it.

Keep this one in mind, folks. It could come in very handy. As with all folk remedies, try it yourself and see if it works. Sounds like it will.


Mrs. Dewey Smith said...

Not that I would have skipped treatment for my 6 yo, but little over a year ago, he received deep-tissue 2nd degree burns on his face and hands from an exploding spray paint can.
After 2 weeks at a children's hospital in Memphis, we were able to come home and an older neighbor gave us some burn ointment. I still don't know all of what was in it, but there was definitely onions from the smell. We used it when he was going outside and needed to have another layer on his skin for comfort and protection.

Foxfire books are wonderful, aren't they?

Ms.Moxie said...

I LOVE all the older folk remedies!! I think it's good to keep in the know about these sorts of never know when you may need them!

FarmerMechanic said...

Working on the farm welding all these years there have been several occasions when my father and I have burned our eyes from the flash of the welder. Not when we were wearing our helmet. It was when we were in the area and seeing the flash in the corner of eye or helping holding something and getting a flash. I would warn everyone it does not take much exposure to burn your eyes. The problem is the symptoms do not appear until 6-8 hours later and you are trying to sleep. It feels like you wiped vaseline in your eyes and sprinkled sand in the mix.Over the years we both would end up going to the emergency room to get some anesthetic drops in our eyes. (Here's where the home remedy comes in.)a old welder we met told us that he would cut thin slices of potato and lay the slices on his eyes for a hour or so and take some over the counter pain reliever. The remedy works and it works well.. no more trips to the emergency room. I think this would work with sunburn to the eyes as well. I got caught one time on a long drive through a snowstorm without sunglasses and burned my eyes. I wish I had a potato then! I can see how the onion would work and I will try it next time I have a burn.

MamaLiberty said...

This might be very useful - will have to experiment with it myself - but the MOST important thing to do FIRST for any burn is to run cold water over it to reduce the temperature of the tissues. This stops the burning and tissue destruction and can make a significant difference to the eventual healing and scar formation.

Large burns cause serious dehydration and the body needs fluid replacement, so don't rely on home remedies alone for serious or large burns. IV fluids may means the difference between life and death.

I'm a retired RN, as well as herbalist and energy healer.

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