People have been sneezing and coughing their way through the winter months for thousands of years - yet we STILL haven't come up with a cure for the common cold.

From runny noses to chapped lips, bunged up heads to aching bones, there's a list of symptoms as long as your arm - for which people have been devising bizarre remedies since time began.

Chicken soup has been prescribed at least since the Roman times - however the poor Romans were subjected to some disgusting-sounding remedies thanks to author Pliny the Elder.

Pliny the Elder

He advised kissing a mule's nostrils to relieve a heavy cold, and believed sneezing caused by a feather would lessen symptoms. A sore throat could be eased by eating lambs' droppings - but only if they had not yet eaten grass - applying snail juice, drinking boiled snails in raisin wine, or gargling with ewe's milk or a mixture of pigeon dung and raisin wine.

Click below to see some 1925 advertisements for cough and cold remedies from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner

The throat could also be rubbed with a cricket, or you could crush a cricket in your hands then touch your tonsils!

Coughs could be relieved by drinking pounded raw snails in water, and a runny nose was cured by wrapping a finger in dog skin.

And if none of that worked, Pliny recommended spitting into a loudly-croaking frog's mouth to get rid of the ailment once and for all.

Keep your germs to yourself thank you!

In the Middle Ages, blood letting was used to reduce fevers, but if you didn't fancy trying out this dangerous practice, you could just go on a pilgrimage to cure the ailment through faith and prayer!

The ancient Celts relied on the the water of life - whisky to you and me - to cure any illness, and it's still used today in a soothing hot toddy.

However William Buchan said in his 1772 book Domestic Medicine: "Many attempt to cure a cold, by getting drunk. But this, to say no worse of it, is a very hazardous and fool-hardy experiment."

William Buchan

Meanwhile, one 1764 newspaper recommended a 'plaister for a sore throat' which was made from melted mutton suet, rosin, and beeswax. The paste was spread on a cloth and pinned on from ear to ear.

People also created 'electuaries', a mix of honey or sugar, herbs, spices and other natural ingredients which served as sweet treats as well as natural remedies.

Mustard was a trusted remedy for colds - the invalid could lay with a mustard plaster on the chest, or soak their feet in a mustard bath of a litre of hot water mixed with a tablespoon of mustard powder.

How to make a mustard plaster

A mustard plaster is an old remedy for coughs and colds
A mustard plaster is an old remedy for coughs and colds

The mustard was said to draw blood to the feet, helping to relieve congestion.

Watch a mustard plaster being made below.

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During the 18th century Methodist church founder John Wesley suggested a tincture of 6oz salt water, two drams of volatile aromatic spirit, and ounce of Florence oil and half an ounce of sugar - but suggested replacing the volatile spirit with a mixture of camphor and opium for better results!

Victorian Mrs Beeton favoured various complicated mixtures including raisins, linseed, vinegar, liquorice and rum which promised to cure you within two days - or a hot flannel sprinkled with turps and laid on the chest.

How to make Mrs Beeton's cold remedy

Mrs Beeton's cold cure recipe from her book of home management, published in 1861
Mrs Beeton's cold cure recipe from her book of home management, published in 1861

Other Victorian remedies included beef tea, spreading newspaper over your chest underneath your clothes, taking a ‘healthy dose’ of either mercury, arsenic, iron or phosphorus - or all together if you have a strong heart!

For a runny nose, the Victorians advised sniffing an old mouldy sock or a generous handful of wet salt.

At the turn of the century, Aunt Babette's Cookbook recommended making a bacon bandage for a sore throat and tying a heated flannel over your ears, fastened on the top of your head.

How to make a bacon bandage for a sore throat, according to Aunt Babette's Cookbook

An interesting remedy from Aunt Babette's Cookbook, published in 1889

And in 1901, the Pilgrim Cookbook urged any caregiver to make sure any tray of food was spotlessly clean, to preserve the appetite of the invalid.

These days we tend to stick to over the counter remedies and toughing it out until you feel better.

But if all else fails, you could try an ancient Irish cure for any illness - lying next to a corpse and putting its hand on your body!

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