Grandma’s Remedies

Grandma was always so good at pulling out random home remedies that she swore work. But they didn’t always Grandma had some really good ideas for home remedies. But did they all actually work? Let's check out these 15 home remedies that actually DO work! #homeremedies #herbal #apothecarywork! 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.

Mustard Plaster

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 dilate. The resulting increased blood supply to the area carries away the toxic products that produced the 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.

medicinal plants that have been used as old remedies for centuries
The Lost Book of Remedies

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 slice 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.


Honey is an effective home remedy
Infused honey

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.

The Lost Book of Remedies features all the old remedies that our forefathers used
The Lost Book of Remedies

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!


Garlic as an old home remedy
Garlic for home remedies

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.


Sugar as home remedy for hiccups
Sugar as home remedy for hiccups

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!


Oatmeal bath home remedy for itching
Oatmeal bath for itching

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!

Old remedies that work
Old Remedies that work

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!

Weeds that have been used as old remedies for centuries
The Lost Book of Remedies



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  1. The duct tape on the warts really does work. I took my daughter to the dr. for plantar warts on the bottom of her foot. He said he could cut them out, but duct tape would be less painful and a lot cheaper. After about a month, they were gone!

    1. Thanks Mandy, I love to hear testimonials like that!

  2. I swear by several of these – and definitely will try out the swimmer’s ear one this summer, it seems like one of my kids end up with it. Thanks for sharing on Homestead Blog Hop, we are featuring you this week!

  3. My Mum certainly used some of these on us – as for bee stings if you are not a smoker, a paste of bicarbonate of soda works well too.

    1. Thanks Rosie! Good to know! I’ve used mud for bee stings too, and a plantain poultice.

    2. I bit of goldenrod or mimosa tincture rubbed on a sting of any kind soothes the burn of the venom and kills germs too.

      1. I didn’t know that one – thank you for sharing!

  4. I haven’t heard some of these mentioned in years, since my grandparents passed, however, I use many of them myself! Great information! Thanks for sharing on the Farm Fresh Blog Hop!

    1. Thank you, Annie! Glad to know someone else uses some of these remedies!

  5. What can I use for nausea during the first trimester?

    1. Hi Jan! I’m no expert in prenatal stuff, but according to my cousin (who is a doula), ginger is perfect for nausea in any trimesters of pregnancy.

      1. Yes! Ginger,( fresh, ginger candy, ginger ale), is a good remedy for upset tummy. Peppermint ( spearmint works for me) is also good.

        1. Yes, those are both great remedies for upset tummies!

  6. The onion/honey for coughs. How much of each and how much do you take for dosage. I have a cough that just will not go away.

    1. Hi Geneva,
      I’m sorry to hear about your cough! It’s a very loose “recipe”, with not a lot of guidance on it. I would suggest slicing one onion for about a pint of cough syrup. Pour honey into the pint, covering all of the onion slices, and let it sit overnight. Strain the onions out and keep the honey in the fridge. Take 1 tablespoon as needed for cough. You really can’t overdose on this stuff, but be aware that it has a pretty high natural sugar content in it since it has a lot of honey.
      I would also suggest mullein tea or thyme tea that I’ve listed in this post: Both work very well and tend to be less expensive than the onion honey cough syrup (since honey is expensive!). If it’s a dry cough, try mullein. For a wet cough, try the thyme tea. I’ve used both for many years with great success!

  7. My sister in law has a remedy for coughs. !/4 cup water and a couple drops of oregano oil. It tastes disgusting but it works! I have to hold my nose to get it down, but as soon as its down the disgustingness of it comes thru loud and clear.

    1. I’m sure that works great! I put dried oregano in my chickens’ water if they have a respiratory issue too.

  8. Best remedy for any cough/congestion but especially croup: Onion Poultice- Slice up an onion, and sauté it in some water until softened, remove from pan and let it cook slightly, but still warm. Find an old T-shirt and put the onions inside and secure it with a rubber band. Put it on the chest, and let it sit there for several minutes. Will totally break yo mucus and you’ll start coughing out the phlegm. This is the GREATEST recipe to date. My kids have gotten croup several times, and we’ve never taken them in because of this remedy!!

    1. Hi Monica,
      I LOVE this! I bet it works fantastically! I’ll have to try it next time I have a bad cough. Onions are a GREAT medicine!
      Thanks for the suggestion!

  9. Hi Shawna, Thanks for posting this. I was raised by parents who were a bit older and they raised me with most of these old remedies, another one my Dad used to use was a tea bag on a Stye, It works great. Thanks again

    1. You’re very welcome, Deb! I was also raised by an older mom, she used a lot of old remedies on me that I still use today.

      1. Hello, I do know alot of these natural remedies. In South Africa we are familiar with herbs. I myself do use herbs but love to hear from any other uses for any other herbs. God bless Issabella from South Africa.

        1. Hi Issabella, I’m glad you enjoyed the article and reading about more remedies!

  10. Wasp/Hornet stings: use mud. Helps draw out the venom and really helps with the pain.

    Swimmer’s Ear: mix isopropyl alcohol and white vinegar 50:50. Acohol helps to dry out any water and the vinegar is an anti-fungal.

    1. Oh yes, Nicole, thank you for reminding me about the mud for stings!

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