Home Remedies

This page was created January 26, 2004

No item/suggestion on this page should be mistaken or used as a cure. This listing is for "informational" purposes ONLY.

In looking through the several books I own regarding the use of home remedies; the thought strikesme many of our ancestors may well have died from the "cure" and not the illness. I realize that in the earlier days, theywere pretty much left to their own devices and used what worked for them.

Physicians were not as centrally located as they are today and most families really couldn't afford the medicaltreatment anyway, even if they could find transportation. Many times, those physicians were not certified or licensed to practice medicinebut did it anyway to serve a community need. In watching the suffering of the family members, the parents normally resortedto whatever was available at hand--or perhaps something that their parents had used before them.

The recipes for these "cures" were normally handed down through the families.. and some women also had their own recipesfor tonics and curatives. These ranged from teas to wild herbs and bark.

For colds & fever, sassafras tea from the plant root was popular. They ground up mustard seed and mixed it with flour and water for a poultice used for a chest cold. Willow leaves and bark made into teas would ease pain and fever. Onions and garlic were thoughtto prevent infections and relieve high blood pressure.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century, patent medicines came into being. These formulas were said to be patented by the government to give customers the impression that they would work. Sly salesmen, knowing how desperate the pioneers were for disease treatment wouldclaim that these cured everything from diptheria to typhoid. Upon closer examination though, none of these "medicines" were patented by anyone.No product labeling existed at that time and if it had, it would have revealed that the main content of those medicines was no more then flavored whiskey.

Below are some comments regarding home remedies used in the past; as mentioned above, this is only for information purposes only.

  • I stepped on a rusty nail one time as a child and grandmother used turpentine on it

  • For swelling and infection, a good soak with hot water and Epsom salts and then put a piece of fat meat on it

  • If you run a nail in your foot, pour on turpentine to start and then bandage it with lye soap and turpentine.

  • For a sprain, mother used hot vinegar and salt

  • For an earache, father would blow smoke in my ear from a pipe or a cigar to loosen the wax

  • For a wart, you could get a local man who would "pow wow" it off, he would rub it and mumbled some words and in three months it was gone!

  • For a boil, granmother would use either plain old tar on it or the yellow of an egg beaten up

  • Mother always used cotton dipped in kerosene for a burn and then it wouldn't blister

  • For womenly problems, father always would dig the root of the black cohosh, some people called it snakeroot. He would wash and dry them and put them in a bottle of whiskey..One tablespoon of that would cure most pain!

  • Good peppered bacon was used for a toothache if it was tied around the jaw.

  • Mother kept onions and sugar cooking on the stove in the winter, it was good for a cold.

  • For a sore throat, mother made us take a spoonful of sugar with one drop of kerosene on it

  • Grandpa used rock candy dissolved in whiskey, it was a cough remedy.

  • Father was a real fan of peppermint, even during the flu epidemic our family stayed healthy.

  • Draw three straws that have been soaked in mare's urine through your lips for a sore throat

  • Skunk fat is good for rheumatism..

    If all else failed to work, then use asafetida, it never cured anything, but nobody came near enough to you for you to catch anything either!


    Debbie Jennings

    Website Coordinator