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Grandma was always so good at pulling out random home remedies that she swore work. But they didn’t always work! In my quest for more simple living, I am trying to use more natural, time-tested remedies. I like to take control of my family’s health. If you’re here, you’re probably the same way! I’d like to share this list with you of 15 old home remedies that work.
Whenever I had a nasty lung issue like bronchitis, my mom would make a mustard pack to put on my chest. It’s just dry mustard, mixed with a little hot water, on a compress. Let it sit on the chest, but not too long, as it can cause burns or blisters. Mustard works by drawing heat to the area to help it heal.
According to “Magic and Medicine of Plants“, published by Reader’s Digest, the mustard plaster “was effective because the mustard seed oil is a counterirritant – an agent that, when applied externally to an inflamed area, causes the blood vessels to dialate. The resulting increased blood supply to the area carries away the toxic products that produced te original inflammation.”
Vicks VapoRub on temples for headaches
It’s true! While I’m not sure how “old” of a remedy this one is, Vicks VapoRub on your temples and across your forehead will help to relieve headaches. The mentholating properties of VapoRub will release pressure in your head and relieve pain almost instantly. It is even known to help relieve pain from migraines.
The hot toddy
Not familiar with the good ole’ hot toddy? It’s just hot water, an herbal tea bag, whiskey, honey, and a lemon wedge. This combination helps you sleep and is actually quite effective in reducing symptoms of the common cold.
Whiskey is a wonderful decongestant. It dilates your blood vessels and makes it easier for your mucus membranes to fight off the infection. The alcohol in the whiskey also helps fight off infections and bacteria. Plus it will help numb the aches and pains that go along with the cold or flu, and help you sleep.
The lemon is also a good decongestant, and the honey is anti-bacterial and soothing for sore throats. Combine all those with a good herbal tea and you’ve got yourself a winning cold remedy! Check out this post too for home remedies for cold and flu.
Onion/Honey cough syrup and cold remedy
This one is an oldie but goodie. And it’s very effective! You simply slide up an onion and layer it in a mason jar with honey. Let this sit overnight, then strain out the onions.
A quicker way to make this syrup is to just warm the onion slices and honey in a pot on low heat until the onions are soft. Keep the jar in the fridge to use for immune boosting when you feel a cold coming on, or use as a cough syrup.
Onions are very effective at fighting viruses. They are anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and even antibiotic. One of the best natural antibiotics, in fact! Honey is soothing for a sore throat and coughs. It’s also anti-bacterial and helps kill viruses.
Tobacco on a bee sting
If you get stung by a bee, take the end of a cigarette and get it really wet. Squeeze the juice out of it and onto the bee sting. The nicotine actually acts as a mild anesthetic and will numb the pain. You could also do a tobacco poultice to put on the sting.
Spider webs on bleeding cuts
This remedy has been used since the ancient Greeks. You simply gather some spider webs and put it on the cut, like a gauze. Sounds strange, but spider webs have a few properties that explain how it actually works.
Spider webs are high in Vitamin K, which is the blood clotting vitamin. The silk in the spider webs are also antiseptic and anti-fungal if the webs are clean.
Slice of onion for stings and skin infections
You’ll notice there’s a lot of remedies on this list that use onions! That’s because they’re a powerhouse of vitamins and healing properties. Onions have been used for centuries on insect stings to help draw the venom out. Similarly, they can be placed on skin infections to help draw out pus and bacteria. The onion will also help reduce the pain and swelling.
Garlic oil for ear aches
I can attest to this one personally. My mom swore by this remedy! I remember many times as a kid, my mom warming some garlic in oil until it was just slightly warmer than body temp.
She would put it in the ear that was hurting, and put a small piece of cotton ball in the ear to keep the oil in. It always worked for me.
Mom continued to do this with all of her grandchildren as well. And now I do it with my grandkids! I usually add dried mullein flowers to it as well. I have another full post on mullein you should check out as well.
Garlic is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory. It also has been known to be a pretty effective natural pain reliever. The warmth from the oil also helps calm ear pain. This is a very effective old remedy!
Vinegar for swimmer’s ear
I wish I would have known this one several years ago. My daughter had a horrible ear ache. She was up half the night crying (and she was a teenager!). I took her to the ER where she was diagnosed with swimmer’s ear. She was so miserable!
For this old remedy, you just dilute the vinegar in some distilled water, or rubbing alcohol, and put it in the affected ear. It really works. This can be done up to 3 times a day. Vinegar is naturally antibacterial, so it kills the bacteria that causes swimmers ear.
Sugar for hiccups
I know, this one sounds crazy. But if you have the hiccups, instead of having someone try to scare you, just swallow a spoonful of sugar! It’s not really known why this works, but it seems to stimulate the nerve that causes the diaphragm to spasm.
Deodorant on insect bites
The Hubs taught me this one, and we have used it so much since then! Apparently deodorant has a lot of the same ingredients that anti-itch cream has in it. So putting a little deodorant on a mosquito bite is just common sense, right??
Apple Cider Vinegar for hangovers
Ahhh, the hangover. You had a little too much fun last night, and this morning, you’re really paying for it! Well, why don’t you chase your shots with a different kind of shot? A shot of vinegar!
Apple Cider Vinegar helps to balance the pH levels in your stomach. So whether it’s from indulging a bit too much, or issues from a stomach bug, vinegar can help calm your tummy. This old remedy works very well.
Tea for sunburns
This remedy is super simple but super effective to take away the pain of a sunburn. It will even lessen the redness and help heal the skin faster! Just soak 3 or 4 black tea bags in a mug of water until the water is very dark. Allow the tea to cool, then dip a rag or cotton cloth into the tea. Use the rag or cloth to carefully dab the tea onto the sunburned skin. Don’t dry it off, just let it air dry.
The tannins in the tea are known to reduce inflammation of the skin, and tea also has antioxidants in it that will help heal the skin. This old remedy works wonders in controlling the pain of sunburns, and reduces the likelihood of blistering.
Oatmeal in the bath to soothe itch
In my mom’s day, this was a widely used home remedy to help treat the itch from chicken pox. All you have to do is take regular dry oatmeal and blend it in a blender or coffee grinder until it is a fine powder (also known as “colloidal oatmeal”). While you are running the bath, pour about a cup full in the water. Then just sit in the bath for as long as you’d like. That’s it! Such a relaxing way to get rid of severely itchy skin.
Oatmeal locks in your body’s moisture, protects the skin, and soothes irritations and itching. This one truly is an old remedy that works. There are a lot of commercial body products that have “colloidal oatmeal” in them, for this very reason!
Duct tape for warts
I know, I know, duct tape can fix everything, right? Well apparently, it can even get rid of warts! It might take up to a month and researchers don’t really know why it works, but it does. Duct tape actually works better than cryotherapy (the process of freezing the wart off with liquid nitrogen).
Again, this remedy might not be that “old”, since I don’t believe duct tape has been around THAT long, but it really does work, regardless!
I hope that in your quest for simpler living, you’ll consider using some of these old remedies that work for your family. These remedies are generally considered safe, so even if they don’t work for you, they won’t hurt, either!
Old remedies do sometimes work for new ailments. Do you have any old home remedies that work for you? Please share in the comments!
This post may be shared on Family Homesteading and Off The Grid Blog Hop, Simple Homestead Blog Hop, Farm Fresh Tuesday, and Old Paths to New Homesteading & Self-Reliant Living.