When I was a kid, my grandma had one remedy for nearly every malady that befell us kids. If my brother and cousins read Home Ec 101, they’d be laughing right about now. See, no matter what was wrong with us, she had the same advice. Sick to your stomach? You’d better try to poop. Headache? Have you pooped lately? “Grandma! I have a broken arm!” “Your arm is fine, you just need to poop.” And if you told her you didn’t need to poop, she’d come running after you with castor oil, so you were pooping whether you wanted to or not.
Now, I don’t exactly get that excited about pooping, but I have noticed 9 times out of 10 when my kids come to me with a stomachache, they do just need to poop. Ah, well, grandma was right.
Now, pooping wasn’t my grandma’s only home remedy although it was the most frequent. There are a lot of home remedies that are actually good, some that are benign and may work by the “placebo effect”, and some that are downright dangerous. Let’s explore a few, shall we? (after the jump)
But before we do, let me say this: I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on TV. This should not be construed as medical advice and none of this info should ever replace the advice of a medical professional.
Now that I’ve said the stuff my e-lawyer (he’s not a lawyer, but he DOES play one on the internet) wants me to say, let’s get on with it:
Grandma’s home remedy: Got a burn? Put butter on it.
More Info: Butter may hold the heat in, but the more important reason not to use butter on a burn is because it creates a good environment for bacteria to grow, causing infection. A better solution is to run cool (not cold, and especially not icy) water over the burn and wrap it in some sterile gauze to keep the affected area clean and dry.
Grandma’s home remedy: Stung by a jellyfish? Have someone pee on it.
Status: Works, but there are more hygienic methods.
More info: Growing up in central Indiana, jellyfish stings were a constant worry for us. Okay, they weren’t, but I had to include this one because it makes me laugh that it actually works. The point of peeing on a jellyfish sting is apparently to keep the tentacle from releasing toxins into you. It’s the acidity that does that, so instead of getting someone to pee on your leg, you can use vinegar with the same effects. Once it’s neutralized, you or a companion or a doctor can remove the tentacle. Make sure whoever is doing the removal is wearing gloves.
Grandma’s home remedy: Honey and lemon mixed together is great for soothing a cough.
More info: Google “honey and lemon for cough” and you’ll get a million different variations on this. Some people swear by boiling the lemon intact and then adding honey to that water. Other people say honey and vinegar. Other people say honey and brandy or vodka. Me, I always take a coffee cup filled about 2/3rds with hot water, add a big squeeze of honey and several drops of lemon juice. It calms the cough right down.
Grandma’s home remedy: Put bacon (or onions or tomatoes) on a boil to make it come to a head faster and/or soothe it.
Status: Ehhh, not so much.
More info: As a very frequent sufferer of boils (I have hidradenitis suppurativa), I have heard 80 million different boil remedies. Let me tell you, internets. They don’t work. I did see one while researching for this post that I haven’t tried and that’s putting a wet tea bag on the boil. I haven’t tried that, but if I try it and it works, I’ll update this post. What works for me is soaking the boil in as hot water as I can stand, then covering it with gauze and antibiotic cream and letting it pop on its own. I usually take motrin for the pain, it makes it somewhat bearable most of the time. What I have found works really well to prevent boils is washing with body wash that contains tea tree oil. Ever since I have started using body wash with tea tree oil in it, I’ve had a lot fewer boils that last a shorter period of time.
Grandma’s home remedy: A cotton ball soaked in whiskey will soothe your toothache.
Status: Mixed results
More info: Although theoretically the sugar content in corn mash whiskey would irritate the toothache, I’ve had fairly good results with this, most of the time. A good friend of mine suggested using oil of cloves on a toothache and that works even better, and I don’t have to go around smelling like a drunk. Fab.
Grandma’s home remedy: Use hot water (or a hot compress) on mosquito bites to keep them from itching.
More info: It doesn’t work for a terribly long time, but it does take the itching away for a little while. If you’re out of benadryl cream or aren’t in an area where you can get some (camping, anyone?), hot compresses work great for a mosquito bite.
Grandma’s home remedy: Pour kerosene on your hair if you get lice to kill all the lice and nits.
More info: Kerosene can be absorbed through the skin and can be very dangerous. Plus, what if you get lit on fire? I really like the info in this link for getting rid of head lice without chemicals. And once again, good ol’ tea tree oil to the rescue! Is there anything tea tree oil can’t do? I didn’t think so.
Alright, home eccers, tell me about your grandma’s home remedies and if they work!