Age-old home remedies from an African farm

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Home remedies, farmstead

I must have heard my grandma’s health advice and home remedies at least a million times. No wonder we believe in an apple a day and the healing powers of chicken soup. However, some time-honored health tips could do more harm than good. Despite the fact that both chicken soup and apples have nutritional value, they have no medicinal power.

I recently discovered a book of handwritten home remedies among my granny’s stuff in the attic. She was a young housewife on a remote farm in Africa in the 1920s. They had minimal contact with people other than the immediate family who lived on the same farm. Doctors were days away, and therefore, home remedies had to do.  I want to share some of them with you.

Home remedies from the pantry

Place peeled potato slices on burn wounds, and rub a bee sting with raw onion. The remedy for a burning sensation in any body part is to hold it in cake flour for 10 minutes. A teaspoon of honey in your tea can cure a cough. Treat sinus with a salt and bicarb mixture, dissolved in lukewarm water.

Remedy, bee
Treat a bee sting with raw onion

Remedies for aches and pains

  • Sore muscles: Crush eucalyptus leaves in a mortar and pestle along with a piece of bees wax and a bit of goats fat. Fry the mixture in a pan, strain, add a few drops of sweet oil and spread it on sore muscles.
  • Toothache: Chew a clove of garlic, a raw onion or a few herbal cloves.
  • Fever blister: Apply vanilla essence, polio drops or avocado.
  • Bloated stomach: Drink lukewarm water and baking soda mixture.
  • Earache: Soak cotton wool in crushed garlic, and plug the ear, or cover the ear with a raw onion. Otherwise, drink a mixture of cayenne pepper and water.
  • Headache: Rub temples with sliced potato, or put a mustard and vinegar paste between two cloths on the temples. Other remedies include drinking rosemary-infused tea or swallowing whole garlic cloves.
Home remedies, garlic
Swallow whole garlic cloves to relieve headaches

Home remedies for illnesses

  • Hoarse voice: Mix two tablespoons of honey, a knife tip of ground ginger and one-quarter teaspoon of turmeric. Add the mixture to half-a-cup of warm milk, and drink it three times per day
  • Low blood pressure: Pour a bottle of port wine over two grated beets, let it stand overnight and strain the next day. Refrigerate and drink a quarter cup each day.
  • Anemia: Eat half an orange sprinkled with salt, or eat a raw onion.
  • Psoriasis: Spread the affected area with a mixture of glycerine, methylated spirits and cows’ milk.
  • Nappy rash: Cover the red area with egg yolk and sprinkle with cornflour to form a crust.
  • Diarrhea: Light a serving spoon of cognac, and drink it after the flame goes out, or drink a cornflour-water mixture. Other treatments include grated apple, overripe banana or fresh lemon juice.
  • Hyperactive children: Oatmeal, licorice or chamomile tea.
  • Weight loss: One of the many remedies is to smell the aroma of vanilla essence whenever you have a chocolate craving.
Remedy, tea in a cup
Treat hyperactive children with chamomile tea

Some particularly gross home remedies

The more serious the illness, the grosser the remedy.

  • Snakebite: Suck the snake’s from the wound and rinse the mouth with fuel. Then, rub the blood of a dead tortoise on the wound.
  • Stye (Eye infection): Rub the affected eye with a baby’s early-morning diaper.
  • Insomnia: Slaughter a large chicken and catch the blood in a porcelain bowl and leave it until it is almost dry. Mix it with fuel and bone meal and fry it in the chicken’s fat — with no instructions of what to do with it.
Home remedy, chicken
Chicken blood can cure insomnia

And there you have it!

In short, I am so glad I was not a part of that generation.


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