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"I don't know how it went from masturbation cure, to bronchitis cure, to horse liniment."

Read more about this story:
Do Alternative Cures Work for Respiratory Diseases?

Bronchitis Antiphlogistine Poultice Horse Masturbation

Story Transcript

In my basement there is a tub of something called antiphlogistine or it might be called 'antee'- phlogistine or it might be called 'anti'phlogistine. I am not quite sure how to say it, because I never heard anyone say it except my parents. Now this tub, is actually a horse poultice and about maybe 10 years ago I got a really, really bad case of bronchitis. I actually was coming back from a conference and I remember sitting on the train and I suddenly had this dry cough and it was one cough and that was it. And then I had to go to bed for six weeks. I was able to do some work and stuff, but really, I was in a bad way. So I used to get bronchitis a lot, when I was a kid and antiphlogistine was the thing my parents used. They were either totally into antibiotics or totally into home remedies. There was kind of no in-between for certain things. And when I got bronchitis as a kid, Dad would go to the neighborhood pharmacy and buy a tube of this stuff, over the counter, stick it in boiling water, and then my mom would squeeze it out onto a plate. They'd make me sit on the floor in their bedroom, and they would slap it on my chest. And it's a pink, sticky poultice that kind of smells like Vicks, but is very thick. And then my mom would put a layer of cotton wool on me and then wrap me up in gauze, and then I wouldn't have to shower for, like, five days. It was awesome. One of the last times they did this for me was when we were due to fly to India and there was no way they were going to cancel their flight. So they just wrapped me up in antiphlogistine and put me on the plane with them and it stayed like that. I wore that stuff for, like, four days during our whole trip. We stopped in London, stopped here and stopped there and I wasn't allowed to take it off.

So when I got sick 10 years ago, the first thing I wanted was some antiphlogistine. My doctor knew I wasn't gonna use any antibiotics. In fact, she said, "I know you're not gonna use them, so I'm not gonna prescribe them." And I felt so crappy, I was lying in bed coughing all the time. So I told my husband, "Find me some antiphlogistine." Well, this stuff's not available at all anymore, except on a website for farriers. I guess people who work with horses or make horse shoes or whatever. I somehow found this website, and we had to buy a huge tub of it, and it says 'For horses only', on the outside. So I don't know why it suddenly became not available for people, and I think it actually says on the tub, 'Not to be used by humans' or something like that. But when I called the company, I told them what I was using it for, and the woman sounded kind of bemused. But I wasn't the first person to call her for that, and actually, if you Google online, you will find other people, who have had the same experience with this pink stuff. So, I have this huge huge tub of it. I won't let my husband throw it out. Anytime I get sick, one of the first things I do, is like I heat up a bit of that stuff and I slap it on my chest, put some cotton wool on, wrap myself up and get into bed. So I thought that was the end of my story, but I became curious about this tub of pink stuff in my basement and started googling.

After all, the woman in the shop said there were other people who used it, and I kind of wondered if there were any users out there of the stuff, who might have a better source, or might be able to reassure me that I wasn't going to turn into a horse overnight or develop some kind of hoof disease on my chest, whatever. So in my Googling, I stumbled across a Victorian medical research site. I think it was a PhD student doing research, and they just put it up online. And one of the things mentioned as a cure for masturbation was antiphlogistine and there are instructions on how to make the poultice and then what to do with it. And I'm guessing that the combination of the stinging from the menthol and a big piece of gauze wrapped around someone's penis would have done the trick. I mean, if you can't touch it, you can't masturbate. And I'm guessing the stinging really was the deterrent. I don't know if they heated it up or not. In my case, for the cure for bronchitis it had to be heated up. So I imagine it was pretty painful. And then I don't know how it went from masturbation cure, to bronchitis cure, to horse liniment. Or was it a horse liniment all along and then got used for all these other human needs? Anyway. That is my story about antiphlogistine or 'antee'phlogistine, as a friend says. And that is the story of about the mysterious tub of pink stuff in my basement.