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Home Remedies

If you’re sick, don’t tell your friends. At least not the helpful ones.

It all started with a sore throat. “Try my sore throat remedy,” boasted our friend, Fred.” His history of disasters should have been an omen. He had lost his arm in a tree-cutting accident and burned down a large building at a campground while raking and burning leaves.

Fred’s Sore Throat Gargle contained water, aspirin, iodine, salt and baking soda. That sounded like a recipe for blowing up my tonsils. As the old-timers said, “If it don’t kill ya it’ll cure ya.”

Some folksy friends of ours had a cure for anything that ailed a person. Low energy? Slurp some of their nutritional supplement that suspiciously resembled wine. Feeling sick? Sleep with a scarf around your neck and gulp down cough medicine. Their advice was almost as good as standing on your head and spitting out mothballs.

That reminds me of a cure-all which used to be advertised on a popular musical program years ago. “Do you have iron-poor, tired blood? Take _____,” the announcer would say. It turned out this miracle product had a high alcohol content. To receive the full effect, you probably had to slurp it till you didn’t feel anything.

Our daughter got a second-degree sunburn on her legs. A fiend—er, friend, suggested, “Get in the shower and run the hottest water you can stand on the sunburn.” Could anything be more disastrous to your skin?! But what are friends for, if they can’t tell you how to you ruin your health.

My grandpa used to apply tobacco juice to wasp stings. I prefer jumping up and down, screaming and kicking trees, since there is usually no one around who smokes or chews.

Health enthusiasts are perhaps the most difficult to maintain a healthy distance from when they think you need help. During college days, my roommate heard that undergoing “an intestinal purge” would be good for us. Following her advice, for three mornings in a row we drank Epsom salts and lemon juice in hot water and fasted the rest of the day. She neglected to hear the part about drinking juices and water while suffering the effects of this purge. Long story short: we lost a lot of weight. Do you know what Epsom salts do to a person?!

Anyone wishing to stay healthy should avoid the advice of magazine articles also. As a young and foolish teenager, I read an article about the benefits of mayonnaise—applied to the hair-- for making one’s mane shiny. One of my blunt friends commented on the smell, long after I had rinsed and dried my locks.

History has handed down outrageous home remedies. According to our ancestors, if you have acne, just apply urine to the spots. (Kids, don’t try this. It will gross out your parents, and besides, it doesn’t work.) Want to heal a sore throat? Apply salt herring to the soles of the feet. Got an earache? Blow tobacco smoke into the sore ear. Need help getting rid of shingles? Hang a turpentine-soaked string around your neck. My father-in-law used to swallow kerosene to cure a cold. He may not have been cured, but he glowed nicely around fires.

I repeat: If you’re sick, don’t tell your friends. Just quietly crawl away to your room and get some rest. You’ll probably feel better in the morning.

How about you? Have any interesting home remedy experiences to relate? Join the discussion below.

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