by Wayne Pauly from Dane County Parks ACTION Adult Conservation Team Newsletter (All folklore stories)
Every fall I work with hundreds of third and fourth graders collecting prairie seeds, and on cold October days, I ask the shivering kids if they’d like to know a trick for keeping warm. “Zip up your coats!!” They’re usually disappointed by the simplicity of the suggestion.
Seventy-five years ago, the attic or woodshed of almost every country farm had bouquets of dried boneset hanging by twine from the rafters. The herbs were a daily reminder for the kids to button their coats, wear mittens, put on a muffler, and keep their feet dry, because a cold or sniffle meant grandma would dose them with a draught of bitter, astringent boneset tea.
“Boneset” was used in the Old South to ease the symptoms of dengue fever, a mosquito born disease known locally as “breakbone fever” due to the extreme joint and muscle pain. This herb appears to have analgesic and fever reducing effects similar to aspirin.