4.D Pain

Most of the scarce information on pain concerns pain in the joints, arthritic pain and pain from colds and flu.

Corfu is an extremely damp place and people used to live in very dark and cold houses. All treatments have to do with warming the body and trying to remove rheumatic symptoms from the joints.

Mustard seed plasters and woolen socks with warm ash from the hearth were commonly used to relieve pain.

Eleni Zoumbou learned the following recipe from her grandmother for arthritic pain:

“My grandmother filled a jar with well-cut oleander (Nerium oleander) leaves. She covered the leaves with rubbing alcohol and let it infuse for about a month. Then, she rubbed this wherever she had pain.”


Oleander, Nerium oleander. Oleander is a very toxic plant and in this recipe is used only externally.

Another common treatment for pain in the knees was clematis plasters. Clematis flammula is a caustic plant, very common in Corfu. Old women in different villages have mentioned to me the external use of this plant to remove “dampness” from the knees. It was an effective but extremely painful remedy.

Clematis, Clematis flammula

Maria Lampoura, an old lady from the village of Klimatia, shared with me that for pain in the knees, she used to make fern poultices. The pain got stronger after applying the poultice, but after a while it subsided and she felt relieved.

Onion poultices were also commonly used for arthritic pain in the knees. The same is true for cypress oil, which was made by infusing the cones in olive oil and was applied topically to relieve pain in the knees.