Friday, March 12, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Home Remedies

Anything posted here is for education and entertainment. I am not a doctor, just someone who loves folklore and learning about how people coped before modern medicine. You are entirely on your own if you want to experiment.


My grandmother had a remedy for everything.

Some of them were particularly nasty. For example, for a really bad cough, she insisted you take some sugar with a few drops of kerosene in it. Sugar with whiskey would do the same thing, but she had rather use something toxic than to have whiskey in the house. As far as I know, no one died from this.

The ubiquitous snuff spit was used on a variety of things, including bee stings and burns.

Poultices were commonly used for the croup; hot mustard mixed with lard was applied to the chest. I can remember these being very warm. Using too much mustard could blister the skin.



Catnip tea was given to babies with colic. This actually worked, since catnip, like all the mints, contains a mild sedative. There is a huge variety of mint teas available at the supermarket now, and I have found that a cup before bedtime helps me sleep.

There was a remedy for just about everything, and I hope to share more in future posts. For now, I have to agree with W.W. Hall, who published his Hall's Journal of Health in 1893, offering a preventative necessity for good health: a nap.

A room without a couch of some sort if only half furnished. Life is full of ups and downs, all that saves the sanity of the mentally jaded and physically exhausted fortune fighter is the periodical good cry and momentary loss of consciousness on the couch. There are times when so many of the things that distract us could be straightened out and the way made clear if only one could throw himself, boots and brains, stretch his weary frame, unmindful of tidies and tapestry, close his tired eyes, relax the tension of his muscles and give his harassed mind a chance. Ten minutes of this narcotic when the head throbs, the soul yearns for endless, dreamless, eternal rest, would make the vision clear, nerves steady, the heart light and the star of hope shine again.


I'm wondering how my boss would feel if I put a couch in my office.

He that tilleth his land shall be satisfied with bread. Proverbs 12:11