Would you like to live to the ripe old age of 100? Most of us would or, perhaps just be happy to be able to stretch our life span by a few more years.
But despite all of today’s modern medicines, clinical diagnosis and scanning techniques, many will notch up little more than the Biblical three score and ten.
Perhaps, then, the reason that so many can’t manage to achieve a full century – like Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, George Burns and Bob Hope – is because of the lifestyles we lead. Our bodies are deprived of sunshine, our food is highly processed and we often over-indulge in food and drink and under-indulge in exercise.
But this is nothing new – the great debate about living healthily has been going on since time immemorial. One little book produced in the early 1900s entitled ‘How to Live 100 Years’ was recently discovered by qualified nutritionist Elizabeth Harfleet when she was sorting out her great aunt Lillie’s possessions.
Aunt Lillie had always carried the book about with her and made notes in it and, amazingly, she managed to live to the age of 103. One picture in the family album shows her on her hundredth birthday in front of a cake and with the local town mayor stood proudly next to her.
The book, priced one shilling (equivalent to 5p today), provided a fascinating variety of cures and remedies, some of which are still relevant today.
Of the common cold it says ‘soak the feet in hot mustard and water, as hot as can be borne. Wipe them dry and retire to bed. Drink freely of an infusion of elderflowers and peppermint.’
For those troubled by freckles the book suggests ‘a paste of mustard and lemon juice applied to the face four nights in succession and washed off in the morning. Alternatively try half a teacup of rain water and two teaspoonfuls of powdered borax and wash the skin twice a day.’
For those suffering from PMT the book states: ‘Ladies who have used the following assert they have never found anything equal to it. Grated horse radish, half a teacupful, good gin, one pint. Half to a tablespoonful three times a day.
Others remedies include:
Sciatica: The Oil of Wintergreen has proved most effective. Dose – five or six drops on sugar before each meal and before retiring at night. It has recently been discovered that Spirits of Turpentine will relieve sciatica in its worst form but should be used cautiously.
Measles : Keep the child in bed on a light diet and get one packet of saffron and half an ounce of hyssop. Infuse with one pint of boiling water, sweeten with honey or black treacle and give one dessert spoonful every two hours.
Jaundice: Fringe Tree Bark is the most effective in this complaint. After taking this a few days, a gentleman writes: ‘In a few days my appetite began to improve and my skin very rapidly cleared and in some ten days my jaundice was gone.’
Boils, bunions and carbuncles: treat with slippery elm.
Nose bleeds: This is an alarming symptom but not always dangerous. A good remedy is simply to raise the person’s arms.
Nervous headaches: Apply hot water to the temples and back of the neck.
Elizabeth Harfleet, 46, who is a qualified nutritionist and lives in Manchester, England, said: I was only a girl when great aunt Lillie was alive, although I do remember going to her hundredth birthday party.
“You have to remember that in her youth there was no National Health Service and it would have cost money to get the doctor. She was surrounded by nature so it isn’t surprising that she turned to natural cures.”
She added: “You can’t argue with the fact that she lived to 103, particularly given that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in a time when very little was known about the disease.”
Aunt Lillie did, however enjoy the occasional treat – right up to the end of her life she would ask staff at her nursing home to take up a slice of apple pie and cheese to her room at midnight. That, at least, seems to prove the theory: a little of what you fancy does you good.