Martha Lloyd's Whooping Cough Cure
With Whooping Cough (Pertussis) reaching epidemic levels in recent years, a push to promote vaccination against it has received renewed publicity. As part of the DTP and DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis) dose, we now have the ability to avoid these illnesses which were, in Jane Austen's time, without prevention or cure. Though that's not to say that there weren't whooping cough "cures" which were recommended, as you'll see below.
In some countries, this disease is called the 100 days' cough or cough of 100 days. The incubation period is typically seven to ten days with a range of four to 21 days and rarely may be as long as 42 days, after which there are usually mild respiratory symptoms, mild coughing, sneezing, or runny nose. This is known as the catarrhal stage. After one to two weeks, the coughing classically develops into uncontrollable fits, each with five to ten forceful coughs, followed by a high-pitched "whoop" sound in younger children, or a gasping sound in older children, as the patient struggles to breathe in afterwards.
Fits can occur on their own or can be triggered by yawning, stretching, laughing, eating or yelling; they usually occur in
groups, with multiple episodes on an hourly basis throughout the day. This stage usually lasts two to eight weeks, or sometimes longer. A gradual transition then occurs to the convalescent stage, which usually lasts one to two weeks. This stage is marked by a decrease in paroxysms of coughing, both in frequency and severity, and a cessation of vomiting. A tendency to produce the "whooping" sound after coughing may remain for a considerable period after the disease itself has cleared up.
We know that Jane, herself, suffered with whooping cough, though through it all, in true Austen style, she retained her sense of humor...
A few days ago I had a letter from Miss Irvine, and as I was in her debt, you will guess it to be a remonstrance, not a very severe one, however; the first page is in her usual retrospective, jealous, inconsistent style, but the remainder is chatty and harmless. She supposes my silence may have proceeded from resentment of her not having written to inquire particularly after my hooping cough, &c. She is funny one.
Jane Austen to Cassandra, January 7, 1807
Fortunately, her friend, Martha Lloyd, had a whooping cough "cure", which she kept in her "household book"-- a personal collection of recipes from friends and relatives. The Oil of Amber in the ingredients is actually distilled from the gemstone, Amber!
Remedy for the Hooping Cough
Cut off the hair from the top of the head as large as a crown piece. Take a piece of brown paper of the same size: dip it in rectified oyl of amber, and apply it to the part for nine mornings, dipping the paper fresh every morning. If the cough is not remov'd try it again after three or four days-- this medicine is sometimes used by rubbing it along the backbone.
Factual information from Wikipedia.com