It is a day of reflection for me. Twenty years ago today my mother passed away at the age of 56. That is way too young to die and yet she left an indelible mark on those that knew her.
One of my best memories of her was of the remedies she always just seemed to have for whatever illness or injury anyone came down with. I decided to dedicate this blog to passing those remedies on.
Cold and Flu Remedy
Mom was always a big believer in making sure you were strong enough to withstand whatever illness you had gotten. Keep in mind that these were the days when the flu and pneumonia were potential death sentences.
Her way of maintaining your strength was with her favorite Orange Flip. This consisted of a raw egg combined with orange juice and blended till it was creamy.
It was pretty tasty and good for you. The egg provided protein for strength and the orange juice provided vitamin c to boost your immune system.
Bronchitis and Chest Congestion
There was, of course, the usual Vick’s rubbed on your chest to help your breathing. When that didn’t work she always brought out the big gun, a mustard poultice.
Tipnut has a recipe for this old time remedy but my mother’s was just a tad different. Rather than use flour my mother would soak bread till it became mush, mix it with mustard powder and spread it on an old piece of cloth which was folded and she would then lay it across your chest.
The thinking was that it would draw all of the mucous out of your lungs. It actually worked pretty well but it just couldn’t be left on for too long without burning the skin. It was never applied directly to the skin.
I personally think that the mere idea of the poultice scared you into getting better!
Ingrown Toenails and Fingernails
This remedy was my favorite of all mom’s home remedies. Probably because it worked great, took the pain away and was quick.
Take a piece of bread and pour just enough boiling water over it to make it mushy but still let it hold together. Cool slightly and then plaster the bread over the affected digit. Wrap in a clean old cloth and tape.
This allowed the infection to be drawn out which reduced the pain almost immediately. It also allowed the nail to soften so that it could be easily removed.
I’m not sure why my mom was so enamored of bread as a cure all. Maybe it was the fact that bread mold contained penicillin. For whatever reason, she used bread for a large number of her remedies.
Last but not least it just wouldn’t have been mom without her handy bottle of Buckley’s mixture. Although this was not a home remedy my mom swore by the stuff.
When we were young we got the Jack and Jill cough syrup but we were not very old before she switched us to Buckley’s Mixture. Many of you may have seen the Buckley’s TV ad “It tastes bad but it works”. Well yes I suppose it really does taste bad but I have used this for so many years that it has come to taste comforting rather than bad. Another one of those remedies where the cough is too frightened to come back!
Although the poultices seem archaic, when you research the ingredients they actually are beneficial for what she used them for. This was pre-internet so all of this info is just something she picked up and carried around in her brain.
As the older generations die off we lose some important folk wisdom. Thankfully there are anthropologists and ethno botanists working with hidden tribes to try and record as much of their healing wisdom as they can before it dies out. I believe it is up tho the Herbal Practitioners amongst us to also maintain and promote the “original medicines”. If we can preserve the “old wives” remedies as well we will be doing our jobs,