Note:  These are not to replace any medication prescribed by a physician.
And, I make no claims that they work!

Brownielocks and The 3 Bears


Old Folk Medicine Remedies & Cures

Here are some old time cures from the past that today we find amusing.  I noticed a common ingredient in a lot of these so-called remedies: onions, kerosene, turpentine, urine and cow manure!

There were hundreds to choose from.  Many cures were various kinds of teas. Others were rather involved processes or recipes, which I didn't want to get into.  

So, rather than repeat what many homeopathic sites list, I choose those that were more interesting and entertaining to hear about. Maybe some of them were even used in your family years ago?



Problem or Condition Remedies, Cures or Actions
  (There isn't always one remedy. So, I've numbered the various cures per problem.)

ACNE or pimples 1. Mix wheat-flour with honey and vinegar (proportions were not given) and put on the pimples at night before going to bed.

2. Eat two apples the first thing in the morning for six weeks.

ARTHRITIS (or Rheumatism)

1. Have a cat sit on your knees whenever you have arthritic pain.

2. Mix turpentine with either vegetable oil, an egg or animal fat and rub on skin.

3. Put two horse chestnuts in your pants pockets.

4. One large thimble of gunpowder, mix in a spoonful of milk.  After taking that. Drink a good half-pint of milk separately. Then go to bed with a lot of warm blankets and sweat a lot.


BAD DREAMS 1. Rub garlic on the soles of the child's feet.

BED WETTING 1. Have the child chew on a cinnamon stick throughout the day, especially right before bed.

BLACK EYE 1. Rub it with a cold tallow candle as soon as you can.

BLEEDING 1. Put a spider web on the cut.

BOILS or CARBUNCLES 1.  Put a small bottle in a pan and boil it for a few minutes.  With a pot-holder or tongs, pick it up and dump the water out.  Then place the neck of the bottle over the boil.  The suction pops it!


1. Wear a piece of brown paper, pierced with holes, around your neck at night in bed.

2. Wear the sock you wore all day around your neck at night to bed, with the foot part near the throat.


1. Take a clean piece of paper from a brown paper bag, dip it in white vinegar and apply to burn.

2. Put mushroom slices on the burn.


1. Take the kernels off an ear of corn.  Then cut the bare cob into pieces and burn them one at a time.  Apply the cob ashes to the canker sore 3 to 5 times a day.

2.  Keep a glob of blackstrap molasses in your mouth on the canker sore several times throughout the day.

CAVITY PREVENTION 1. Eat a piece of cheddar, Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese after eating anything that's sugary or cavity-causing.  (The cheese reduces bacterial acid production.)

CHOKING: Fish bones or Hair 1. Swallow a raw egg.

COLD FEET 1. Sprinkle some cayenne pepper in your socks.

COMMON COLD 1. Eat a roasted Spanish onion before bedtime.

COOLER (Switzel)

This drink is said to cool the body down and prevent heat cramps when you've been working outside in the heat:

3 tablespoons ginger
1 cup vinegar
1 gallon water
2 cups sugar (white or brown) or molasses, maple syrup or honey
(Some included oatmeal.  Some didn't put in the vinegar.)

CORNS 1.  Take one genuine mother-of-pearl button in a saucer. Squeeze lemon juice over the button in the morning and in the evening for a week.  The button turns into a paste.  Then spread this paste over the corn and cover with a bandage.  Repeat daily till corn is gone.

COUGH 1. 1 spoonful of a  mixture of chopped raw onions and honey.

DRUNKENNESS 1. Eat coleslaw before you drink and you won't get drunk.
2. Eat 10 raw almonds on an empty stomach.

DYSPEPSIA 1. Eat oysters 
"Oysters are out of season, when there is no R in the month."
Mrs. Theo P. Winning, The Australian Household Manual 1899

EPILEPSY 1.  (This was referred to as 'the falling sickness' )
Hang coral around the neck. Or rub coral on your gums.

EYE - Something in it? 1. Flush it out with a few drops of warm milk.

FEVER 1. Chop up raw onions and put them into a linen cloth.  Tie this to the child's feet.  In the morning the fever should be gone.

FRECKLES 1. Freckles can't be removed. But, the old tradition was that the more  refined sugar you ate, the darker your freckles got.

HAIR:  SHINE & GRAY PREVENTION 1. While standing on your head, massage your scalp.


1. Put slices of raw onions on your forehead. Then over them, wrap a cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol around your head securely.

2. Pick up a knife and make a cross in front of you with it. Then throw the knife on the floor!

3. Apply very hot water to the back of the neck with a folded towel at the same time putting your feet in hot water.

4. Grind really fine the charcoal from your fire and mix it with a teaspoon of water.  Drink it.

HANGOVER CURE 1. When you're done drinking and are ready for bed, in a glass of orange juice stir in 1 tablespoon sugar and drink it down.

2. When you wake up in the morning, take a quarter of a lemon and rub the juicy side on each armpit.


1. Hold a penny between any two toes of one foot and transfer the penny to any two toes of the other foot, being careful not to touch the floor.

2. Wear nutmeg around your neck.

3. Take something cold that's also made of metal such as a spoon. Tie this on a string and lower it down the hiccupping person's back.

INGROWN TOENAIL 1. See-saw a piece of wool yarn under the corner of the toenail (basically like flossing).  Get the yarn as deep and far down as you can.  Snip off the ends and leave it in. This makes the corner of the nail grow upwards instead of down into your skin.

LASHES - longer & thicker 1. Mix 3 tablespoons of castor oil with 1 tablespoon of dark rum and dab this on your lashes every night.

LEG CRAMPS 1.  Take a silver spoon (or stainless steel) and put it on the cramp.

LUMBAGO 1. Place strips of dried seaweed inside your mattress.

MEMORY Problems 1. Drink sage tea.

NAILPOLISH Primer 1. Wipe unpolished fingers with vinegar to clean and prime before polishing.

NAUSEA (Outdoors) 1. You need a black and white newspaper page.  Then sniff the ink.


1. Roll up a square piece of brown paper (white paper won't work) and place it between your teeth and upper lip.

2. Pack a spiderweb into your nose.


Note: To test a plant to see if it is poison ivy, grab the plant with a piece of white paper and crush the leaves.  If it is poison ivy, the juice on the paper will turn black in 5 minutes.

1.  Take a slice of watermelon (rind and meat) and glide it over the rash-ridden body part(s). Let dry naturally.  Within a day, the rash should improve.

FOR A PERSON'S SICK ROOM 1. Hang a cloth soaked in lime water. This will keep the air very pure.

SINUS PROBLEMS 1.  Put garlic and a little chicken fat in a silk stocking. Then wrap that stocking around your neck.


1. One teaspoon of cream of tartar per half-pint of hot water.

2. Eat fried mice.  (Ewww!)

SOBER UP 1. Slowly eat a small grapefruit.

2. A Siberian recommendation -- Have the inebriated person lay on their back.  Place the palms of your hands on his ears.  Then, rub both ears briskly and strongly in a circulation motion. Within minutes he should come around.


1. Wrap a dirty sock around your neck.

2. Take a piece of bacon fat (raw) and tie a length of strong cotton around it.  Hold the cotton while you swallow the bacon fat.  Then pull up the bacon fat using the cotton thread. Then swallow again. Do this half a dozen times.  Then take a black cashmere stocking that has been worn for a week, sprinkle the sole with eucalyptus and place that part against the throat.  Wrap the rest of the stocking around the neck and pin securely.  Go to bed.  You will wake up with no sore throat. (Ewww!)


1. Put slices of raw potato over the burn. (The starch in the potatoes comes out on your skin and leaves a whitish color.)
Feels cool and gives a drawing sensation.

2. Wash with sage tea.

SUNSTROKE (Prevention) 1. Put a cool, wet cabbage leaf inside the crown of your hat.

TOOTHACHE 1. Dip a small piece of brown paper in whiskey.  Then sprinkle it with pepper.  Put this where the pain is.  Then cover with a flannel bandage.

WOUNDS or CUTS 1.  A bruised geranium leaf applied to the cut asap heals it.

2. Powdered rice sprinkled on a cut stops the bleeding at once.

3. A cut that is festered, put on turpentine.


You may also be interested in:ter">History of Folklore
Folk Sayings
Food Folklore
Paul Bunyan Trivia

"More Chicken Soup & Other Folk Remedies" by Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen
Ballentine Books © 1986

"Live and Be Well..New Age and Old Age Folk Remedies" by Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen
HarperCollins Publishers © 1992

"Country Folk Medicine - Tales of Skunk Oil, Sassafras Tea & Other Old-time Remedies" by Elizabeth Janos
Galahad Books © 1990

"Bill Wannan's Folk Medicine" (Australia and The British Isles) by Bill Wannan
Hill of Content Publishing Company © 1970


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