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Old Time Remedies

Early settlers not only had to rely on their own wits to keep the body fed but had to be their own physicians.While some of these "cures" may seem odd now,considering the medical practices of the day,they were quite sensible for the time.

Warning:The medical advice listed below is strictly for historical purposes and should by all means NOT be practiced.The misuse of certain herbs can be a serious health threat so please use this material for reading only.All health concerns should always,always,always be discussed with a licensed physician.
Early Cures
Rheumatism (In The Fall) Arthritis Remedy Curing Warts
Rheumatism (In The Spring) Ague Bites, Sunburn and Stings
Flu  Malaria Headaches
Reducing fever Colds and Coughs Sore throat
Kidney ailments Anemia  Tonics
Hiccups Toothache Infection
Poultices Spring Tonic Burns or frostbite
Bites, Sunburn and Stings Burns and Scalds Poison Ivy


Drug Plants found grown by the early settlers.

Foxglove (digitalis) Belladonna (deadly nightshade)
Aconitum (monkshood) Artemisia absinthium(wormwood)


Visitor Contributions

July 24,2000

lu ann writes:

Try using chamomile tea for colicky babies.I add a pinch of sugar, (never honey) to the tea.
A W.VA .friend of mine believes in putting a dab of butter on the side of an infant's nose when they get a cold to help them breathe.

July 19,2000

This verse is from the Bible that stops bleeding. I have had it in my wallet all my life . Mom gave it to me when I was old enough to have a wallet.Carla

 " and when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, live: yea I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood. Live."

 I was looking at your site this morning (home remedies) and remember
some of the things my Grandmother Church use to tell me.

You mentioned the cob webs for bleeding, she told me that chimney
soot would also stop bleeding and Papaw Back use to read a verse from
the Bible (unfortunately I can't remember the verse).

For a toothache she use to make us hold whiskey on the tooth and
then make sure we spit it out.

Also she would soak a brown paper bag in vinegar and apply it to
sprains to reduce the swelling and the pain, it really worked.

For warts, rub a raw potato on it (cut a potato in half and rub the
raw side on the wart) and then plant the potato, as the potato spouted
the wart would go away.

For headaches, tie a bandana around your head tightly and then sleep
with the head at the foot of the bed.  It is suppose to work, but never
tried it.

She tried to teach me things that she knew, but most of the things
she taught me, I have forgotten over the years.  Oh, how I wish I could
remember more of the things she said.

Just thought I would pass these few things along to you.

These are some great additions,Aldene,and I thank you.

I am 71 years old and I remember the remedy my Grandma had for getting rid of warts on my little brother's hands.

Kill a chicken and get all the blood you can from it.

Rub it on the warts three days in a row.

I don't remember if he washed it off, but I don't think he did.

She was also a great fan of poultices...I don't know what they were made
of ,but I had one on my chest all winter long it seemed.  They were

And she really believed in sulfur and molasses. [black strap, of
course],  UGHHH.  But I took it when she said I should.  I remained
healthy in spite of it.

You don't argue with a woman who could shade her eyes, look at the sun
and tell you want time it was any time of the year, and hardly ever be
off more than 5 or 10 minutes.


Fri, 10 Mar 2000
From:  Dina

My family had a valuable home remedy for the cold. Drink a mixture of
tea, lemon, whiskey and honey as hot as you can drink it. Then cover up
and stay covered all night. You will sweat it out of your system.

Thu, 9 Mar 2000
From :Munchkin

For sore throats, my grandfather used to use long cotton swabs and swab both  sides of the throat with Iodine.  It does work....  Also. when I was a little girl I caught poison ivy.. I had  such a bad reaction to it, nothing my mom did would relieve it,  but my grandfather used straight alcohol on a  cotton ball, and dabbed each blister with it.. It healed up quickly.

The ways lavender was used:

--the stems or "straw" left after stripping the flowers can be burned like incense and have often been used as a means of deodorizing and disinfecting sick rooms.

--used  in relieving the pain and in massage oils helps in relaxing muscles.

--used to relieve, among other things; headaches, fainting, hysteria, stress, insomnia, muscle aches, bug bites, rashes, colds,chest infections, rheumatism and flatulence.

Infection - Hot pitch and turpentine compresses used to reduce infection.

Burn sulfur candles in closed room to kill diseases - slow fever (typhoid)

Place hot poker in block of camphor gum. Fumes will kill diseases.

Headaches-Place large cabbage leaves on your temples, forehead, and the back of your neck.

Swab your ears with beet juice.

Sore throat--Mash an onion into pulp, add a little water until you have
onion juice, and gargle.

For more serious throat ailments you'll need to breathe heavily on a frog. The frog's heart should start beating rapidly and you will feel instant relief. After eight to ten minutes the disease will have passed completely onto the frog.

Bites, Sunburn and Stings

Cut a raw potato in half and spread the sap over  the sunburned area. It will immediately cool and relieve the pain. Use as often as needed.

To remove poison from bites and stings

Plantain is a common weed that can be found almost anywhere. For an insect bit,pull a piece of plantain,mash it and hold it on the sting. In a few seconds, the poison is drawn from the sting and the pain is gone.

Curing Warts

Dandelion Milk. Cut the stem of a dandelion and squeeze the sap onto the wart. Rub in gently. Repeat for several days.

Raw meat. Use a small square of meat, rub it into the wart firmly, then bury the meat in the garden.Visualise the meat being the wart. As the meat breaks down the wart will disappear.

Silver coin. Rub a silver coin on the wart,visualising both as one, then bury the coin in the garden. As the silver tarnishes, the wart will disappear.

Burns and Scalds-Witchhazel dabbed onto minor burns and scolds will help them heal more quickly, and reduces blistering and scarring.

Bites, Sunbrun and Stings-Cut a raw potato in half and spread the sap over the sunburned area. It will immediately cool and relieve the pain. Use as often as needed.

Spring Tonic - Sulfur, molasses, and cream of tartar tonics
make very good blood cleaners. Mix 1 tsp. of sulfur with 1 tsp. of
molasses and add a little cream of tartar. "Take daily until creek

Hiccups- Mix 1 t. apple cider vinegar in 1 c. warm water, and

Ague -Wild horehound, sweet gale, and the leaves and roots of strawberry plants were brewed and taken as remedy for ague (chills).

Flu was treated by making  a tea of sage with a few pine needles added. The patient drank the tea  as hot as possible.

Reducing fever -Sarsaparilla was used to  promote sweating to reduce a fever.

Malaria -Yarrow tea was given for malaria.

Tonics for more strength and stamina  were made from: sage,pennyroyal, ginger, sarsaparilla, beef, rhubarb, horehound, blackberry root, oak bark, and pine needles.

Green Spanish moss can be placed in the shoes to fight high blood pressure, and tied around the neck to relieve a sprained neck.

The elderberry tree has been called "the medicine chest of the
common people. The flowers, leaves, berries, bark and
roots have all been used in traditional folk medicine for
centuries. Warm elderberry wine is a remedy for sore throat, influenza and induces perspiration to reverse the effects of a chill. The juice from the berries is an old fashioned cure for colds, and is also said to
relieve asthma and bronchitis.

Goldenrod was used as a stimulant, relieve gas, astringent, dysentery.
American Indians valued the root highly as a tonic, stomach aches, and application for sore eyes and general ulceration.

These plants were used in making teas given for shakes and chills:
Bloodroot Tansy
Catnip Burdock
Sarsaparilla Smartweed
Snakeroot Plantain
Spikenard Mandrake

Colds and Coughs

Whooping cough was treated this way.The person drank a boiling hot concoction of horehound,lemon or ginger tea mixed with honey.The patient was covered with heavy quilts to sweat out the poisons.

A cough syrup was made from boiled  dried horehound leaves until a strong tea resulted. Add three cups sugar for each cup and a half
of tea. Boil until syrup thickens. Whiskey may be added in small
amounts. Bottle and take a teaspoonful several times a day to
cure cough.

A treatment for colds and headaches was this:Boil ten corn shucks in water for 30 minutes. This brew was taken straight and not diluted.

Make a tea from this year's spruce tips and drink as hot as possible. Wormwood, boneset, and hemlock tea are all good.

If you wanted to prevent a chest cold you would cut off a piece of camphor ice about the size of the end of your thumb. The camphor was placed in a small cloth bag and hung around the neck and resting on the chest area.When the camphor had melted to the size of a pea,you replaced it.The belief was the vapors penetrated the membranes of the lungs and prevented winter colds.

One tablespoon of turpentine was mixed with two tablespoons of lard and rubbed on the chest and throat to relieve chest colds.This was also covered with a flannel rag.(I've had camphor oil used on me this way as a child and I can tell you it did help me breathe more easily.)

For chest colds and pains, mix one part mustard, one part flour with enough warm water to make a paste. Cut two pieces of cloth to same size and sandwich the paste between cloth layers.

Kidney ailments--Boiled watermelon seeds provided a tea that was used to cure kidney problems.

Bayberry leaves are often steeped for a tea to relieve back pains associated with the kidneys.

Watercress was used as a diuretic in the treatment of kidney ailments.

Watercress was eaten raw for gall bladder problems.

Burns or frostbite-

Rub light burn or frostbite with freshly cut potato to relieve pain.

Irish potatoes were scraped  finely and spread on gauze, good and thick.
This was applied over the burned area. This was considered a good treatment for third degree burns, causing healing from the inside out, without scabs forming which draw
and make a scar.

Poison Ivy -  Lye soap lathered and applied to poison ivy, oak, etc. and allowed to dry, was used to stop the itching and heal the rash.

Anemia was cured by sipping liquid daily from a jug containing rusty nails and water.

Infection - Hot pitch and turpentine compresses used to reduce infection.

Toothache - A mixture of one part oil of cloves and one part
creosote will relieve tooth ache.

 Sage was said to cure warts, epilepsy, measles, and worms; it
was also used for coughs, colds, and fevers, and as a basic tonic.

Cobwebs were used to stop bleeding and were the "Bandaids" of the past.They were also used in the treatment of tetanus.

Sugar was considered a valued part of the medicine chest.A puncture wound or a wound that wouldn't heal was packed with sugar.Surprisingly,this was used many years on Viet Nam veterans with wounds that wouldn't respond to standard medical practices.A nurse researched this old time treatment and after mentioning it to the doctors,the procedure was tried with many excellent results.

Rheumatism (In The Fall)

1 c. ripe polk berries
1 1/2 c. water
1 enamel or stainless steel saucepan

Wash berries; crush berries in saucepan. Add water and
bring to a boil for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool, then strain liquid
in a glass jar. Close jar. Drink 1 cup of tea twice a day for
3 days.

Note:Historical purposes only.

Arthritis Remedy

1 qt. moonshine
2 medium polk roots about the size of a sweet potato

Put roots in 1/2 gallon jar. Pour moonshine over roots.
Let stand 4 to 5 days. Remove roots and stir. Take one
tablespoon twice a day for pain and swelling.

Another remedy was to remove the inner bark from willow trees. The bark was boiled in enough water to cover.Keep adding  more water and boil several hours. Pour off water and bottle. Take a large swallow  to kill aches and pains as needed.

Wild yams were also used  in the treatment of rheumatic pain and
rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatism (In The Spring)

1 lb. polk leaves
1/2 lb. smoked meat
2 c. water
1 small onion

Wash meat; dice and boil until tender. Wash polk leaves
and add to cooked meat. Cook meat and leaves for 15 to 20
minutes. Peel and dice onion. Add diced onion the last 3
minutes leaves and meat are cooking. Remove from heat and
place in an airtight container. Heat and eat at least 3
servings during a week.

The berries, bark and roots of prickly ash were combined  as a remedy for rheumatism.

Watercress was another plant used to help relieve the pain of rheumatism.

Spanish Moss was boiled and the decoction was used for bathing swellings and rheumatism.


Crushed plantain leaves were considered good for this purpose. The following were often applied to boil to draw it to a head, or to any wound, sore spot, blister or bruise:

1. Stale bread soaked in hot milk. Wrap in cloth and apply to
boil. Replace two or three times daily with fresh mixture.
Repeat as necessary.

2. Flaxseed, scraped beefsteak, hot salt, mustard, poke root
were also used in poultices.

I'd love to post any of the home remedies passed down through your family.Send 'em to me and full credit goes to you ,of course.

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