American people carry a nut of the YELLOW BUCKEYE around in their pocket to prevent or cure cramp, among other ailments, notably rheumatism, just as Conkers are in Britain. Putting a gall from a DOG ROSE under the pillow was a Norfolk way of curing the cramp. Carry a POTATO in your pocket to keep the cramp away, or, from Somerset, put some YARROW in the shoe. PERIWINKLE was reckoned to be a good remedy for cramp. People used to wear bands of it about the calf of the leg to prevent it, and in Lincolnshire a piece of the plant was put under the mattress for the same purpose. A Somerset remedy required the patient to take an infusion of the dried root of STINKING IRIS.
Gerard listed BAY berries as a cure for many complaints, including “cramps and drawing together of the sinues”. FIGWORT had a reputation in the Channel Isles as being an efficient remedy for cramp, probably because it is an anodyne. There is a recipe for cramp from Alabama involving BLOOD-ROOT: mix one teaspoonful of crushed bloodroot, half a cup of vinegar and four teaspoons of sugar. Heat to boiling, strain, and give up to one teaspoonful every half hour. GUELDER ROSE is often called Cramp-bark, for it has been used for centuries by people who live in marshy country, and suffer from rheumatism and cramp.
A strange superstition is recorded from the Pennsylvania Germans. They used to say that a person who is subject to cramps should, immediately on getting up, and without saying a word to anyone, go and plant some SOUTHERNWOOD. Just as strange is the claim that CELERY was used by witches to prevent their getting cramp while flying. And why not? It was quite a common medieval remedy for cramp, at least, the earthbound kind.
In parts of France, the plant called SOLOMON’S SEAL was known as l’herbe a la forcure, and it was said that the roots represent all the parts of the body.
It was used for treating muscular cramp, and great care was taken to use that part of the root that doctrine taught represented the part of the body affected.