When I was a little girl I lived 12 miles from the nearest doctor
by horseback. Nevertheless, despite the lack of medical facilities,
people did get sick and often needed help. The fact that help wasn't
there didn't eliminate the need.
The people in the rural areas were forced to make do with what they had
on hand. If you got a cut and it was bad, they used turpentine and sugar
or kerosene oil as an application to kill infection; and of course kerosene
oil in those days was scarce because people had to burn it for light.
That's all th'lights we had except the fire in th'fireplace.
This is written solely to present folklore medical remedies, and
cures only. Any remedy - from any source - should be employed with
caution, common sense and the approval of your physician.
The end result was a staggering body of lore, a portion of which is
included here. Some of the remedies undoubtedly worked; some of them
probably were useless. "It is a chancy business," as my aunt said of her
remedies. "if it hit, it hit; and if it missed, it missed."
But the remedies themselves stand as a weighty testament to the
ingenuity of an all but vanished race.
Drink a misture of honey, vinegar, and whiskey.
Make a tea from either the seeds or leaves of alfalfa.
Suck salty water up your nose.
Smoke or sniff rabbit tobacco.
Swallow a handful of spider webs rolled into a ball.
Place a spider web across the wound
A weak solution of cider vinegar applied to cuts and wounds should stop
Apply a poultice of spirit turpentine and brown sugar to the wound.
Use a mixture of soot from the chimney and lard.
Use pine resin.
Put hot coals on the burned place and pour water over them. The
steam will draw the fire out.
Power hot coals and put this warm powder on the burn.
The scapings of a raw potato will draw the fire.
Put axel grease on the burned area.
Use lard and flour.
Drink whiskey and honey mixed.
Make a tea from powdered ginger, or ground up ginger roots.
Do not boil the tea, but add the powdered root to a cup of hot water
and drink. Add honey and whiskey, if desired.
Boil pine needles to make a strong tea.
Take as much powdered quinine as will stay on the blade of a knife,
add to water, and drink.
Eat onions roasted in ashes ( good for children )
Drink tea made from wintergreen fern.
Gather the roots of mayapple, cut out the joints, and dry the middle
of the root. Place in a cloth and beat to a powder. Add a few drops of
castor oil and roll into pills. They keep very well. You can also put
a pinch of powder in food, or put in some syrup.
Mix one teaspoon of whiskey with a pinch of sugar, heat over a fire,
Eat a mixture of honey and vinegar.
Put some ground ginger from the store in a saucer and add a little
sugar. Put it on the tongue just before bedtime. It burns the throat
and most of the time will stop coughs.
Take some rock candy with tea.
Take a teacup of roots and stems of red horsemint, boil in a pint of
water for two or three minutes, strain, and drink.
Dissolve four sticks of horehound candy in a pint of whiskey and
take a couple of spoonfuls a day.
Boil one cup of wild cherry bark in a pint of water. add some
syrup and cook until it gets thick.
To cure cramps in the feet, turn your shoes upside down before
going to bed.
squeeze the juice out of a rosted onion and drink.
Add a little vinegar, limon, or onion to honey and eat.
Put a drop of turpentine in a spoonful of sugar and eat.
Drink a thick syrup made of onion juice and honey.
Boil an onion, some turpentine, and some lard together. Pour the
juice on a cloth and put it on the chest.
Take a tea of red oak bark.
Drink some blackberry juice.
Pour drops of juice from the buddie blooms (sweet shrub) into
Dissolve table salt in lukewarm and pour this into ear. This
dissolves the wax which is causing the pain.
Put either wet ashes wrapped in a cloth, or hot ashes in a sack
on ear and hold there.
Save the liquid that boils out of the ends of hickory and persimmon
wood when burned, and pour this liquid into ear.
Pour castor oil, or sweet oil into ear.
Break apart a Betty bug at the neck, and squeeze one or two
drops of blood into ear.
Warm a spoonful of urine and put a few drops in ear.
Put a few ashes in an old rag. Dampen it with hot water and
sleep with your head on it.
Snakeroot tea will bring it down
Boil two roots of wild ginger in a cup of water. strain, and
Boil a cup of pennyroyal leaves in a pint of water and drink.
Gather some boneset, put the leaves in a sack, and put it in the
sun to dry. Make sure it has air or it will mold. Then cook the
leaves in some water, strain, and drink.
Chew rabbit tobacco.
Gall Bladder Trouble
Take a spoonful of pure corn whiskey and Black Draught
Bind wilted beet leaves on the forehead.
Tie a flour sack around your head.
Put several ginseng roots in a piece of broun papeer and tie
to your head.
Put turpentine and beef tallow in a bandage and tie it tightly
around your head.
Smear brow with crushed onions.
Rub camphor and whiskey on head.
Take a teaspoon of peanut butter. (this always works for me)
Put half a teacup of dried apples in a teacup of water in a pot.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Strain out the remains of the
apples, and drink the juice while hot.
Roast some poke roots by the fire. Scrape them clean with a
knife and grind up. Make a poultice out of the powder and apply
to the bottom of the foot. It will draw pain out of anywhere in
Put drops of vanilla straight from the bottle on the tooth.
Use burned alum.
Hold whiskey or turpentine on the tooth.
Put a few ashes in an old rag and dampen it with hot water.
Sleep with your head on it.