Friday, January 15, 2010

Get a madstone--if you can

Back in the early '80s of the previous century, I worked for a veteran newspaperman named Leon Fredrick. Leon was another Ozarks Boy like me, although he was a few years older. He grew up in Southwest Missouri, served in the Coast Guard and then had been a small-town newspaper publisher most of his life, in addition to editing and publishing a trade magazine for the carnivals.

Leon knew a lot about the Ozarks, and his weekly columns were usually about Ozarks lore, Ozarks history or Ozarks culture.

It was from Leon that I first heard of "madstones" and their usefulness in healing. These stones are used to draw poison out of wounds, Leon explained, and they have nearly miraculous properties. He wrote about how valuable they are, passed down from generation to generation in some Ozarks families.

They're rare because these are not stones found in Ozarks geology. They are calcified bits of matter found in the stomachs of deer. I don't know if modern-day deer hunters look for these rare and valuable stones, but they ought to.

What brought this to my mind was my reading today an article titled "When All Else Fails, Try a Madstone" in the 2010 edition of The Old Farmer's Almanac. I read it in the printed edition of the Almanac (it's the one with the yellow cover and the hole up in the corner so you can hang it on a nail), but you can find a version at Almanac.com. Here's an excerpt:

A mad stone (sometimes called a 'bezoar stone') is used to draw poison out of bites and wounds. It works by absorbing the poison bit by bit, curing the bites by detoxifying them completely.

You can even see a picture of one of the stones. And you'll be able to read some of the comments from readers who have had their own experiences with madstones.

Perhaps the online article will pique your interest enough to go out and buy a copy of the Almanac; you can find them at your nearest Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, which is where I bought my copy.

It might also whet your appetite for Ozarks lore.


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