Ossman and Steel's Guide to Health or Household Instructor was an immensely popular 19th-century collection of folk remedies, healing spells, and charms. It drew widely on the folklore of old Pennsylvania Dutch and German "powwow" healing practices, which, in turn, helped shape Appalachian folk healing, conjure, rootwork, and many other folk healing traditions in America. Author Jake Richards puts these remedies in context with practical advice for modern-day healers.
The first part of the book contains spells and charms for healing wounds, styes, broken bones, maladies, and illnesses of all sorts. The second part includes other folk remedies using ingredients based on sympathetic reasoning, including sulfuric acid, gunpowder, or other substances for swelling, toothache, headache, and so on; these remedies are presented here for historic interest, to help better understand how folk medicine evolved in America.