PEOPLE have always needed healthcare.

Many of the things we suffer from have changed; and the changes in medical understanding and treatment have changed even more. But some of the fundamental questions remain the same.

What works? Where do I get it? Who do I trust for advice and treatment? What if it goes wrong?

Tracey Norman’s talk for the Crediton Area History and Museum Society, entitled “Plants, Poultices and Persecution”, looked at how people have addressed those questions over the centuries.

The audience learnt a lot about uses for medicinal herbs…and snails…and early examples of cures which related to apparently baseless beliefs, but which nonetheless seem to work.

Tracey drew on many “receipts” for cures recorded, used and trusted by a gentry family in North Devon; and noted how many of them were similar to remedies that, if prescribed by a poor, uneducated woman, might get her branded as and punished for witchcraft.