The story of America in the 1700s and 1800s includes immigrants and settlers who came here from all over the world, bringing their traditional clothing, ideas, inventions, food, and, of course, their home remedies.
Immigrants tend to get absorbed into the fabric of America, which means that their home remedies can sometimes get lost in the shuffle.
Today, we are going to take a look at five nearly forgotten home remedies that our ancestors consumed to stay healthy before they had access to doctors, prescription medications or vaccinations.
1. Garlic and onions
While some ideas fall by the wayside (such as placing a cut onion in the room to “absorb” viruses) others stick around because they really work. One such remedy was a big plate of fried onion and garlic. The substances in these foods have been proven by today’s scientific studies to contain anti-viral and anti-microbial compounds, which can not only help to shorten the duration of a cold or flu, but can keep you healthy and prevent you from becoming sick.
2. Honey and lemon
While we still use this, we have acquired different reasons for using it. Today, we think of honey and lemon — usually put in tea – as a way to relieve coughs, sore throats, and stuffy noses. It does a great job in this area, but for our ancestors; they used honey and lemon to stop allergy symptoms of hay fever.
Since you would naturally purchase honey that came from local bees, which used local flowering plants, it only makes sense that consuming a tablespoon of it would eventually provide your body with an immune reaction. I actually did try this on my husband and I have to say that it works remarkably well! Rather than taking an anti-allergy pill every day during the spring and fall, he now only takes one two or three times a year.
3. Jacob’s ladder
These beautiful plants, with their blue/purple flowers, were sometimes called Greek Valerian. While this plant used to be a staple in the 1800s, it is almost unheard of today. (Even though the alternative name has the word “valerian” in it, this plant is actually no relation to the valerian we use today.) Our ancestors used this plant, generally in a tea form using the flowers, to help prevent what our forefathers would call “nervous complaints.” This has been used for everything from headaches to heart palpitations and “women’s hysteria.” To our ancestors, women’s hysteria was just about any complaint a woman might have, such as mood swings, cramps or hot flashes.
Like honey and lemon, ginger was often used for something else other than what we use it for today. While our ancestors realized that ginger could help with nausea, many consumed ginger (either chewing pieces of it or drinking it as a tea) to help prevent them from becoming chilled, and therefore susceptible to illness, or to prevent colic and indigestion.
5. Lady’s slipper
Lady’s slipper is a beautiful flowering plant related to orchids. Sometimes called moccasin flower or Venus shoe, this plant was very well-known to the Native people of North America, who used it as a preventative and curative for intestinal worms. While in this modern era intestinal worms are almost unheard of, these parasites used to be very, very common. Flowers were made into a tea that was drunk regularly to prevent worm infestation. The dried and then remoistened root was also used by several tribes to stop skin irritations and even to stop toothache pain.
What home remedies would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below: