Old Home Remedies
The Best of Times|December 2020
Professional medical care was not readily available to the general populace back in the early 1900’s when more people lived in rural areas, prior to insurance and government hospitalization programs, so folks self-medicated with herbs and “cures” handed down for generations.
Elaine Marze

During this age of internet, researching ailments is easy, and emergency rooms are open to all, but it may be surprising to discover a renewed interest in old remedies partially in an effort to bypass the many drugs that are prescribed “willy-nilly” (an old term meaning “haphazardly”).

When people over 60 discuss the medical treatments of their youth, they may share how, when cold or flu-like symptoms presented themselves, mothers and grandmothers made them swallow a dollop of Vick’s VapoRub Ointment regardless that the directions on the jar say not to take internally or it was crammed up stuffy nostrils and slathered on heated flannel cloths to make smelly chest compresses. It was easy to tell which smelly kids on the school bus were taking a Vick’s cure. Vick’s was also credited with curing rashes.

Also, Truman Miers remembers how bark from Red (not White) Oak trees was boiled, strained and the syrup was poured over a spoon of sugar to treat sore throat and colds. He recalled that his grandma used spider webs to treat wounds, and how they cut bark off of what was known as Toothache trees to chew to numb tooth pain.

My mother and aunt, both in their late 80’s, remembered how they would go to the creek bed and dig plants to make herbal necklaces for their siblings when my grandma would give birth to a new baby. They couldn’t remember the name of the plant or what it was for but 99-year-old Sylvia Evans Brown does remember. She is a lifelong resident of the Toro/Rattan area in Sabine Parish where my grandparents raised their nine children. A childless widow who lives alone, Ms. Sylvia is proud that she can do her own housework and cooking, and she reads, works puzzles, quilts and crochets to keep her mind active.

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