The formulas were jealously guarded and in most cases they remained secret, in the hands of few people that looked after handing on a selected person.
Essential ingredients of Sardinian medicines were herbs (among them we remember mallow –anarbedda in Sardinian- aloe and folliopus) and other homeopathic ingredients such as garlic, olive oil and wheat.
Children’s evil eye
Since childhood, children were subjected to these practices and superstitions. It was bought a brooch called “sabeccia” that was made of gold, silver or metal and has a round black stone. It was put on the child’s shoulder. People also used horn-shaped and horseshoe-shaped charms, and green ribbons at the wrists to protect children from the evil eye.
Su callu furriu – overturned horse
It was a remedy used to solve digestive problems of 1 year old children. The child and his mother had to sit down in a busy zone of the house (usually between two doors); the child stayed in front of his mother who took him by his feet, making him doing three somersaults. At the same time she recited some prayers.
It was practised when a 1 year old child could not walk. It was done by 3 unmarried sisters and it consisted in putting the child in the middle of a room, with the legs tied by a rush; in turn the sisters, beginning from the eldest, had to cut the reed and to do the knot again, reciting the next Sardinian nursery rhyme: “Nosu tres sorris seusu, de Venezia beneusu, a Venezia torrausu, nosu custa trobei si da scappiausu”. It was thought that the child would have started to walk.
Against the stings of mosquitoes, bees and wasps, it was done for three times, with the blade of a knife, a cross on the sting and after the knife were thrown on the floor for three times.
An immediate relief against the irritating itch was given by the garlic that was rubbed on the sting. Another cure prescribed the use of a piece of horn as antidote against the poison.
Among the most fearful insects, there was a little venomous spider, whose bite is mortal: “s’argia”. After a bite, the cure prescribed continuous dances and songs for three days. The number of persons who have to participate to the ritual has to be as much as the number of bites. The person bitten by the spider was put in the middle of a room and the others danced around him.
In addition, the colour of the spider’s spots was very important; in fact, who had to participate to the ritual was chosen according to their colour: white spots meant unmarried girls, red spots meant married women and white and black spots meant widows. If the colour was unknown, they all had to participate, but not at the same time. They had to enter in the room following the next order: singles, married women and finally the widows. Each group sang and danced and if during its turn the patient did not recover, it had to let the space to the next group.
SA MEXIA DE S’OGU
The prayers, often and willingly, assisted the practices of Sardinian medicines. They were essential in the rituals for evil eye, joined with water, olive oil and corns. The effects of evil eye were weariness, migraine and high temperature.
Among the different ways to heal it, one consisted in let falling down, one at a time, three grains inside a glass of water, reciting, at the same time, verses addressed to God and the Saints. If air bubbles developed around the grains, the person had the evil eye and so he had to drink some sips of water from the glass, in which before were been done some cross’ signs. The remaining water was thrown away so that nobody else drank it, risking to be contaminated in his turn. Another remedy was to let a drop of oil falling down in a glass of water: if it floated, the patient had not the evil eye while if it dispersed, the patient had the evil eye. In that case, the healer said many prayers and made the sign of the cross for three times on the forehead, on the chin, beyond the head and on the nape of the neck.
Sa mexia de s’ogu -the medicine of the eye- could be done also to the animals (usually horses or pigs) to free them from parasites.
SA MEXIA DE SA BUCCA MABA
The inflammations of the mouth and also the thrush (in Sardinia called “sa bucca maba”) could be cured just by someone who had lost his father before he was born. The practice that would have let to recovery was not pleasant; it consisted in spitting inside the mouth of the patient. However, there was a more gruesome practice: a handkerchief with inside dried dung was rubbed inside the mouth of the unfortunate person.
IS OGUS MAUSU
The people who had inflamed eyes had to submit to this cure: a slice of bread was taken and toasted on the fire, after that, still hot, was soaked in vinegar and wrapped in a handkerchief that was rested on the eyes.
Another as strange as not efficacious remedy consisted in putting on the eyes a handkerchief in which were been held some dead midges.
Used for the stomachache it consisted in putting on the stomach a plate in which was put embers covered with fresh grass and wrapped in a cloth and let there until that it got cold.
TEETH AND THROAT
The mallow compresses were useful as antibiotics for toothache and abscesses, but also for the throatache; in that case some leaves were put on the throat that was bound up with a scarf to keep it hot. The throatache was cure also with compresses of cooked rice.
The inflamed tonsils (called gutturronis) were cured with a nursery rhyme that was said rubbing the arm of the patient: “Gutturroisi funti setti, de setti torranta a sesi, de sesi torranta a cincu, de cincu torranta a quattru, de quattru torranta a tresi, de tresi a dusu, de dusu a unu, de unu a panù”. Unfortunately, it did not produce any benefit.
The leaves of the Indian fig were used to cure the “guroni”, lumps, that appeared on hands and feet, and which were caused by the excessive exposure, during the winter, at atmospheric agents. Compresses of water and Sardinian soap were put on the breast of the patient.
FUOCO DI SANT’ANTONIO
It is a herpes like a burn that extends on all the body. It was cured by a person who had done the pigs’ herdsman as first job. The body of the patient was rubbed on olive oil mixed with flakes of stones.
To make up for the dislocations it was used to spread on the aching part the white of the beaten egg and then to bandage it. It has to be let bandaged for at least three days.
SA MEXIA ‘E SA RUNGIA
Sardinian name for scabies is “rungia”. It was cured with a mixture of virgin sulphur and liquefied beeswax. First of all, the whole body of the patient was washed and after that it was spread with the mixture and then wrapped with a sheet. The ritual was repeated for three days, even if already by the second day was possible to notice a recovery.
COLD AND BRONCHITIS
The cold was hard fought with a syrup of coked wine and sugar or quince. The bronchitis was cured with the steams of hot water. The hot beeswax was used to fight the pulmonary aches.
DABORI ‘E STOGUMU
To fight the congestions was drunk a cup of very hot coffee with two spoonful of lemon juice.
The laxative of the time was the castor oil, while the linseed oil was spread on the breast for curing the pneumonia and the holy oil was used for “sa mexia de sa ossura” for the backache. The back was spread with oil and on the vertebras were put wool threads rubbed with honey and knotted. At the end, the sacrum was pulled up with force with the risk to fracture it and to cause further damages.
The people to cure high pressure cut themselves (in Sardinia this practice is called “sangria”) to let the blood going out and so let the pressure down. When they wanted to stop the haemorrhage they cover the cuts with the pellicles that are between a node and an other inside the canes of river.
The leeches were use to fight the pneumonia. They were put on the back in correspondence to the veins. Then the leeches were trapped with a glass in the chosen point.