This was an old and trusted remedy and had been practised on man and beast for hundreds of years, and it was widely thought that it was a cure for all ailments and in fact beneficial to the system; Cistercian monks had monthly blood letting sessions. One method of blood letting was simply to open the skin with a knife. However, in the nineteenth century it became popular to apply medicinal leeches to human patients. In 1816, William Fleming from Pennington paid half a crown for the bites of four leeches which were set to bite the back part of his neck, and those places were allowed to bleed for seven hours.
Hedgerow Medicine (the alternative medicine of yesteryear).
This kind of medicine was popular and very often effective, producing relief or cure. For "fallins sickness", the patient drank a brew made from the dried and powdered intestines of three goslings in a draught of ale without the hops. "Stone and gravel" patients were treated with a dose of warm white wine to which had been added the powdered roots of nettles. To relieve a headache, the person's forehead was soothed with a mixture of marigold flowers and distilled water. Honey was used for wounds and various skin complaints, and spiders' webs were used in the treatment of sore throats, and sores were treated with mouldy cheese and bread, long before the discovery of penicillin! A tablespoon of yeast in a gill of warm porter, repeated every six hours until the fever subsided was given to typhus sufferers. William Fisher's "perfect remedy" for whooping cough was as follows . . .
"Infust 2 Cloves of Garlick in a quarter of a pint (ale measure) of Rum for twenty four hours; rub the back and soles of the feet of the person afflicted for three or four successive nights at Bed time; at the same time abstaining from all animal food".
Psychosomatic Medicine or mind over matter
Perhaps Barrow villagers had heard of the following cures for whooping cough, practised at Skelwith Bridge: "Pass the sick patient under a donkey's belly or ride the patient across a bridge with his face to the animal's tail". And the people of Hawkshead knew how to cure a toothache; you must find the remains of an ancient gibbet or gallows and then take a splinter of wood and use it as a kind of filling in the decaying tooth!” It can reasonably be assumed that there would have been a degree of interaction between High and Low Furness through trade and travel, as this happened in other parts of the country. Thus, over the years, some customs and ideas would be assimilated and enter a common folklore.