Your ward may be asking you to prepare for the possibility of widespread illness this winter by keeping your refrigerator stocked with fresh food, your car’s tank filled with gasoline, your storeroom supplied with paper products – in short, living as if every day were the day after your regular errand day, so that if stores close due to illness, or you have to limit contact with people who may be ill, you’ll have the supplies for life to go on comfortably.
Can’t find Tamiflu for your private stock? I offer no warranty for the following substitutes, but I wonder if Brigham Young wouldn’t recommend his own home remedies –
According to his daughter Clarissa,
The medicines which Aunt Zina kept on her shelf were the common ones of the day – camphor, ipecac, hot drops (and whatever they were, they were exceedingly hot), mustard, and composition tea. In times of contagious diseases we wore around our necks the supposedly potent asafetida bag and hung sulphur sheets over the doorways. Raw onions in plates were sometimes kept around the rooms in order to absorb the poisons that might be in the air.
The composition tea was used by Father not only as a medicine but for his usual hot drink, since our religion teaches us not to use ordinary tea or coffee. I still drink it myself and have given the recipe to hundreds of friends. Here is Father’s own recipe for it: 4 oz. each of ground bayberry, poplar bark, and hemlock; 2 oz. each of ground ginger, cloves, and cinnamon; and 1 oz. of cayenne pepper. I take a small bit on the end of a spoon, fill the cup with hot water, and use plenty of cream and sugar.
When Father was suffering with rheumatism, Mother would wrap his knees in red flannel, put the hot drops on them, and give him composition tea. I used to carry a small pail of it cold to the Tabernacle for him to drink in place of water when he was preaching from the stand. Some years ago one of my friends called upon me, and as she was somewhat chilled from th cold weather I made her a drink of the hot composition tea. It seemed to be just what she needed, or at least what she thought she wanted, and she drank so much that she became ill. Since then she has always referred to it as “Mormon Highball.”
Brigham’s composition tea seems to be a variation of the recipe found in a common 19th century medical text, Benjamin Colby’s 1846 Guide to Health:
Take of bayberry 2 Ibs.; ginger 1 lb.; cayenne 2 oz.; cinnamon 2 oz.; and prickly ash 2 oz., all to be finely pulverized, and sifted through a fine sieve, and well mixed.
Dose: One teaspoonful in two-thirds of a cupful of hot water, sweetened; milk or cream may be added to make it more agreeable.
This compound, being stimulant, astringent, and tonic, is an invaluable family medicine, being adapted to all forms of disease, in connection with laxatives, if costiveness be a prominent symptom, or relaxants in cases of constriction.
Colby also gives a recipe for the “hot drops” that Clarissa remembered but could not deconstruct:
Take of gum myrrh (Commiphora) 12 oz.; cayenne 1 oz.; fourth-proof brandy 1 gal. Put them into a jug or glass demi-john, and shake them several times a day for a week, when the liquor may be poured off and bottled for use.
This preparation is useful for bathing in cases of debility or a relaxed state of the surface, as in night sweats, to check diarrhea, relieve pain in the stomach or bowels, and also for the toothache.
Dose: From one to four teaspoonfuls in hot water. For the toothache, wet a piece of cotton in it, and put it into the tooth.
And if none of that works, you could always try the remedy reported to folklore collector Austin E. Fife in the 20th century:
Once the child of a Mormon pioneer asked her mother, “What did you do when we got sick?” Unhesitatingly came the reply, “Well, I would give you a teaspoonful of cold water and ask God to bless you.” [Austin E. Fife, “Pioneer Mormon Remedies,” Western Folklore,16:3 (July 1957), 153-162.]