Anti-Alcohol: Saints/Holy Figures

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Barbara
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Anti-Alcohol: Saints/Holy Figures

Postby Barbara » Wed 9 January 2019 5:06 am

St Ambrose of Optina cured numbers of people from drinking in the mid to later 1800s in Russia. Some anecdotes will follow. Interestingly, oftentimes the great Optina Elder was able to use herbs to treat this chronic problem.
Which herbs, however, are not always specified in the accounts, however. In one case that we will see, they were named, but the terms apply to popular contemporary medicinal herbal formulas, the names of which are not necessarily recognizable today.

Elder Ambrose performed these cures both while alive, in person, and, just as readily, after his repose during appearances to people.

"Once there came to the Elder a peasant of the Tula Province ---

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The Kremlin of Tula. Archimandrite Gerasim [Schmaltz] of Alaska was from this area. He held many fond memories of the Tula region. Unfortunately, during his decades in the northernmost American state, he ran into disappointing drunkenness from the local Aleut population.

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A 19th c. peasant family from Borovsk district of Tula Province. Did our pilgrim to Optina resemble the head of this family - ?

--- who suffered from drunkenness and... was unable to quit this pernicious habit... He came to the Elder, unable to say anything.

But the Elder,

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exposing him, stated that he suffered from drunkenness because when he was still a boy, he stole money from his grandfather, a church warden, and with that money had bought wine.

[ St Amvrosy ] gave him herbs to drink at home.

The peasant was delivered from drinking and became completely well."

While no bona fide Optina Elders -- and none approaching St Ambrose's caliber anywhere -- exist today to effect these miraculous cures via herbs or other healthy means, a 2013 article on the subject of alcoholism in Russia in The Atlantic magazine asserts :

"...many Russians still prefer more traditional remedies.

"I went to the AA [Alcoholics Anonymous self-help program] and I couldn't believe my ears. They have no God and they say that they conquer alcoholism themselves. That fills them with pride," one Orthodox believer wrote on his blog. "I went back to the Church. There, they conquer it with prayer and fasting.”
https://www.theatlantic.com/internation ... ia/279965/

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Barbara
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Re: Anti-Alcohol: Saints/Holy Figures

Postby Barbara » Tue 15 January 2019 6:47 pm

Here is another story from the recorded collection of Elder Ambrose's successful cures of drunkenness.

Part I


"The drunken older brother of one lady had suffered from alcoholism for many years. There was nothing the man had not tried and no one he had not turned to, but nothing had come of it.

Meanwhile, the unfortunate man's health and resources had been ruined. The matter finally reached the point that the doctors who had been treating him stated that if he did not stop drinking he would die of a heart attack. The poor woman lost her head and, not knowing what to do, recalled that in Optina Monastery there was a great and righteous Elder who could do anything through his prayers.

She squinted her eyes and, although she had never seen Fr Ambrose, tried to imagine him, mentally begging him to help her brother.

Since it was evening, she soon fell asleep. In a dream she saw an od man coming towards her and instantly understood that this was Elder Ambrose.

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Barbara
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Re: Anti-Alcohol: Saints/Holy Figures

Postby Barbara » Thu 17 January 2019 5:10 am

By the way, above I meant to write "old", not od. Elder Amvrosy was never one bit odd ! He was always lots of fun and even vivacious in character. Quite an extravert, it would be said today.

Continuing, the Elder said to the sister,
"Go to the pharmacy and buy 25 kopecks worth of the herb chernogorki-staronos, finely chopped , and boil 2 teaspoons of it in 5 teacups of water. Let the teapot stand in the stove for a half hour, then take it out and let the sick man drink all 5 teacups at one sitting, either hot or cold - it makes no difference. Since this herb is quite bitter, he can drink it with sugar or honey. After taking it there may be vomiting, but do not be frightened by this --it means that the remedy has worked. If after this dose he again has the desire for vodka, then you must repeat the dose. After this treatment he will lose his appetite, but this is not dangerous."

Intermission : what is chernogorki-staronos ? I could write that term in my sleep as I tried to look it up so many ways and in various languages. All I could find was that chernogorki [ black mountain ] refers to Montenegro, which was named by Venetians "Black Mountain". But staronos showed up nowhere - - except in this chapter of Elder Ambrose's biography ! The word is neither Greek nor Russian, and is unrecognizable as an herb in English. Only in Bahasa Indonesia, the language of Indonesia, does the name show up !
Any person, therefore, desiring to reconstruct this Heaven-sent formula would be hard-pressed to do so without a specialized knowledge of Montenegrin herbs.

Unless staronos could be Lobelia. I just remembered that this herb [ despite its beauty seen below ] is both semi-poisonous and induces a person who consumes it to throw up. Lobelia is fairly common ; enough so that one could easily procure it in the market, as this woman did.

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Lobelia

Continuing with the spellbinding story, the Elder informed the woman that if her brother lost his appetite,
"he has only to take 25 drops of Witte's stomach elixir and 10 drops of Hoffman's in a shot glass of water each time before taking food."

The woman instantly woke up and copied down this recipe during the night. When she arose in the morning she sent to the city for the herb. By the time they went to the city, looked for the herb and brought it home it was already evening. Not wishing to lose precious time, the compassionate sister prepared the remedy and night had already fallen by the time she gave it to her brother to drink.

To her great horror, before he was to go to sleep her brother began to [ sorry for the unpleasant image ] vomit to such an extent that the poor woman was confounded. [ She tossed and turned worrying about it ] Again she saw the same old man, who approached her and said, "Do not be frightened, Matushka ; do not be frightened, I tell you. This is harmless, and the vomiting is the root of the wine being destroyed."

... The woman calmed down and, indeed from that moment her brother's urge for alcoholic beverages was taken away as if by a touch.

Many years later, this woman went to Optina, and how delighted and gratified she was when she saw Elder Ambrose, exactly as she had seen him in the dream.

+++++++++++

So precise a formula conveyed by the Elder appearing in a dream - and then reappearing to reassure the kindly woman - is remarkable. The woman was intelligent to write it down, since as everyone knows, what seems so clear when waking up from a dream often is partly forgotten by morning.

In case anyone else wants to benefit from Elder Ambrose's great skill, he would have to rummage through Russian folklore for the Witte's stomach elixir, since it appears nowhere in English. Probably it was a popular contemporary remedy for many digestive ailments.

Then, what is "Hoffman's" ? It turns out to be a formula used in the time of Elder Amvrosy - but seldom today - called Hoffman's Anodyne. One notices that the Elder only needed to say "Hoffman's" to be understood.
A modern American who tested Hoffman's reported that it was overpowering.


Hoffman’s Anodyne was a compound sometimes known as “Spirit of Ether”, produced through a process of distillation. Though originally named after the German physician Friedrich Hoffmann (1660- 1742), the recipe was still popular across Europe and the US during the mid-19th century. One 1850s pharmaceutical study of the remedy’s chemical properties found that versions of it varied greatly between commercial manufacturers, between international pharmacopoeia, and from Hoffman’s original recipe.

Spiritus AEtheris Compositus. Compound Spirit of Ether. (Hoffman's Anodyne.)

Contains 32.5% ether, with alcohol and ethereal oil.

It is a carminative, antispasmodic, and stimulant.

Dose, ʒ i.-4 mils, diluted with very cold or iced water

https://chestofbooks.com/health/materia ... Ether.html

Another site characterizes Hoffman's Anodyne as Carminative, Anti-Colic, Stomachic

Wikipedia says :
"Compound spirit of ether, also called Hoffmann's anodyne, Hoffmann's drops, or aetheris spiritus compositus, is a solution of one part diethyl ether in three parts alcohol. It is used traditionally as an anodyne or as a hypnotic."

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Friedrich Hoffman, who was born, worked and died in the city of Halle, 22 miles from Leipzig, in what much later became East Germany [ < as a point of reference ].


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