Do You Have Home Remedies in Your Family

**Though this post has nothing to do with the research of my lineage, I thought I would share it anyway. To me the stories give a sense of who we were or who our ancestors were. If we do not write them down and share them. The information will be lost to our descendants and that is never good.**

Apothecary Shop

When I was young, I spent much of my time with my maternal Grandmother, Margaret (Ida) Jaeger-Fischer-O’Connell. She was my babysitter, and for lack of better names, she was a mother to me and many of her grandchildren. I was a lucky little girl to be able to spend so much time with a family member, instead of a stranger. To be guided with the love of my grandmother is something I will never forget. Ida had a few home remedies that she used to help her ailing grandchildren while they were sick. Spending this last week couch surfing due to bronchitis really made me think about the things she would do for me when I was sick.

When I was congested, Grandma would take a bit of camphor and sew it into the toe of an old sock and pin it to our undershirts for the day. Camphor, when inhaled is used as a decongestants.

For an earache, she would put a few drops of sweet oil into my ear and then add a cotton ball for the day. After doing a bit of reading today, it seems that the sweet oil is actually olive oil and it was called sweet oil because of the sweet taste.

When the chicken pox made its way through our family members, she would draw a warm bath with baking soda to draw the pox out. Instead of spending a week or two waiting for all of the annoying little pox to appear, the bath would facilitate the process. I remember getting into the tub with just a few marks and getting out of the tub covered.

Of course, these are the only remedies I remember her using on her grandchildren. But, in full disclosure, I was only eight when she passed away. I am sure she had many that she used on the older grandchildren.

Of these three remedies, the only thing I have used is the baking soda bath for the chicken pox. When my youngest was 3 she brought the chicken pox home from day care. She went straight into the bath and I truly believe it assisted with drawing her pox out as well. Though, I highly doubt she will remember this home remedy when she gets older.

Do you have any home remedies that were passed down in your family?



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  1. Terri,

    This is a great topic. In the research I do in community cookbooks, there are tons of recipes for home remedies. I’ve even written on Food.Family.Ephemera of one that my maternal grandmother wanted to use on my brother that involved eating a large quantity of salt. That also reminds me of a co-worker I had many years ago who told us how her mom would melt, yes melt, Vick’s VapoRub and have her drink it when she was congested. She would not believe us when we told her that it is meant to be used on your skin, not to drink.

    That’s why I always tell people to make sure their home remedies are safe 😉

    Thanks for a great topic.

  2. My grandmother also used the baking soda bath on us with chicken pox and when she was congested she would eat a spoonful of Vicks. Nothing we could say would make her change and she lived until age 94. She would also put a poltice of bread and hot water on any infection we had to draw the infection out. I still do that with insect bites on my children. She would also put linen and camphor on our chest when we were congested, we didn’t have to eat Vicks.

    1. Peggy,

      OMG I cannot even think about eating the Vicks, major yuck! Though does work great when rubbed on the throat or chest. Makes me think that I should go and pick some up. I should also add that baking soda and vinegar made into a paste is good for a bee sting. When we went back to my Grandma’s home in WV my youngest was stung by a bee and my grandma’s cousin made the past and out it on the sting. My daughter felt better instantly. When we got home from the trip and went grocery shopping, she insisted we buy a huge bottle of vinegar.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing some of your families remedies!

    1. Thanks, Judy. I find it interesting as well. I now find myself thinking of the different stories I have read when I am at the pharmacy looking for something specific. Thanks for taking the time to comment, I appreciate it.

      1. I am even more interested in ‘home remedies’ now that my sister is a registered nurse and naturopath. Many of the natural remedies she recommends are almost identical to what our ancestors used.

  3. This is a great topic. I used the baking soda method too. It worked. Thanks for sharing your home remedies.

    1. It was a fun one to write about, of course I had been sick when I wrote it. It just seemed like the perfect time.
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

  4. This brought back memories. I just asked my mom about the red liquid she used to rub on our chests when we had a cold but she couldn’t remember what it was (neither can I). It smelled sort of like Vicks or camphor. The pharmacist used to mix it for her. I loved how it smelled. Then there’s the salt water gargle for sore throats she always made us do. I’ve used vinegar on sunburns. It’s cooling.

    1. Catherine, When I wrote this post I had been sick for a bit and was truly thinking of all the things my grandma did for us. The salt water gargle we still use as well. I have never tried vinegar on a sunburn, but will keep it in mind. Thanks for taking the time to comment and if you figure out what the red liquid is, I would love to know.

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