If you are like me, you probably had mom or grandma say to you, “Oh, honey, you don’t need a doctor or drugs. You just need a little old-fashioned medicine!” She then would promptly give me something that sounded a bit strange, but she often was right. It would fix the problem.
If this was your experience, then you were taking what is often called folk remedies, home remedies, or as my grandmother called it, old-fashioned medicine.
Prior to doctors and before most people could afford to go to one, people had no choice but to rely on these types of “cures.” The truth is that most people never expected an outright “cure” — they were hoping for relief of symptoms while they waited for their body to heal.
Unfortunately, with no knowledge of medicine, people had no way to know exactly what they were consuming, how they would react to it, or worse, whether the “cure” might kill them! This lack of knowledge allowed many a shyster to sell the infamous “Snake Oil” to a great many people.
Today, we have the knowledge of the world at our fingertips. This doesn’t mean that old-fashioned medicine is outdated, however. For many of us, we prefer to keep things simple and if we ever should find ourselves back in a situation where there are no doctors, then this kind of information is good to have.
Let’s take a look at some of the best folk remedies that really do work!
1. For bee stings …
This is another painful encounter that almost everyone will experience. Yes, the pain will subside on its own, but you can remove the stinger, the swelling and itching with tobacco. Plain tobacco (unroll a cigarette) mixed with a bit of water, then placed on the sting, will draw out most of the poison, as well as the stinger, in about 20 minutes. I actually had my father use this method on me when I was about 10 years old, and I have to say that it sounded strange, but it really did work!
2. For nausea and upset stomachs …
Who the heck hasn’t had a bout of either one of these? Or both?! Stomach problems are super-common, and everyone wants relief ASAP! You can do that by keeping either dried or fresh peppermint on hand. My grandmother always had some in her backyard, or she used dried leaves from the pantry. She placed a half-dozen leaves in a cup filled with boiling water, added a teaspoon of honey for sweetness, and drank a cup or two every time she had a tummy ache or indigestion. She also gave it to me as a child, and I still remember how soothing it was.
3. For the common cold …
How can a simple little virus make us feel so terrible? I don’t know, but I know how you can clear up those stuffed-up sinuses and feel better – good-old chicken and onion soup! Or you could use garlic in place of onion. You also can drink garlic tea (if you’re brave) to open up your sinuses and get you on your feet! Yes, you will have to repeat this several times a day for several days, but I will take feeling better even for a short period of time over and over, compared to just being sick as a dog for days.
4. Urinary tract infections …
What would you do if there were no doctors or antibiotics? Let me tell you how they did it in the olden days: They used baking soda and water! At the very first sign, mix one-fourth teaspoon or so of plain baking soda in 1 cup (8 ounces) of water. Drink this every morning until the symptoms subside.
5. For sore throats, sore gums, mouth ulcers …
These are all common-yet-painful problems almost everyone in life will face. The good news is that they are all aided by something everyone in the world has right in their kitchen: salt. A simple mouthwash of warm water with a pinch of salt works wonders.
Let’s also talk about some of the home remedies people have used over time that absolutely DO NOT work:
- Cold baths and/or drinking cold water will not fix “most diseases,” as a 1740 doctor used to say.
- Eating boiled carrots for two weeks does not cure asthma.
- Holding a live puppy on the belly will not stop vomiting (but it might make you feel better emotionally).
- Eating a pinch of castile soap each morning will not cure jaundice.
Some of these ideas seem funny to us in our modern age of medicine, but who knows? Perhaps 300 years from now, people will be snickering at our era, saying “How could they have thought that?”
*This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or cure any particular health condition. Please consult with a qualified health professional first about this method.
Do you know of other folk remedies that still work? Share your memories and tips in the section below: