I’ve Got a Headache… Now What? ~ A Look at Regency Pain Medicine

Kristi here, emerging from my medicine induced stupor to contemplate illness in Regency England. Last January I looked at Regency cures for coughs and colds. Today, my mind is, quite literally, more absorbed with pain.

Anyone who has ever awoken with a stabbing pain in their head has been grateful for a bottle of Tylenol.

Our Regency heroes didn’t have Tylenol.

So how did they manage pain?

For things such as headaches and body aches, there wasn’t much to do but go to bed or perhaps rely on the effects of alcohol. Home remedies such as willow bark tea were around, but not necessarily well known across the country.

Laudanum was prescribed for multiple ailments. But many households had their own version of the medicine, mixing the key ingredient – opium – with a bit of alcohol.

More dramatic medical pain such as broken bones relied on the natural remedy of fainting to save the patient from the excruciating pain. Anesthesia didn’t make an appearance on the medical front until the late 1850s.

If one were lucky enough to be in a place with an ice house, they might numb the injured area with ice, but most of the time, especially during the war, ice wasn’t an option.

While medicine was moving towards many of the medicines we know today, they weren’t available to the public at large, or even known by the majority of physicians and apothecaries.

There are days when I wish we wore beautiful gowns and danced at social gatherings, but today I’m more than happy to live in the 21st century where I can take a long, hot shower, pop a Tylenol, and get on with my day.

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