Home Remedies: The Good, The Bad And The Weird

Donna Easto, C.H., H.C., M.H., Certified Herbal Educator 

Since COVID, people are increasingly turning to the internet and word-of-mouth for traditional home remedies.  Many of these are familiar and reliable, for example, hydrogen peroxide for softening ear wax; ginger for nausea; cool tea bags on puffy eyes; prunes for constipation; oatmeal baths for itchy skin; Cranberry juice for staving off urinary tract infections; honey for coughs; lavender for sleep, aloe for burns; Witch Hazel for hemorrhoids and the mother of all home remedies, chicken soup (affectionately known as Jewish penicillin.)  

However, over the ages, there have been some bizarre remedies and treatments, most aren’t around now, but some proved surprisingly effective and are still in use today:

The tooth in the eye.  Developed in the early 1960s, this medical procedure is used to restore vision in the most severe end-stage corneal blindness cases. It starts with the removal of a tooth from the patient or a donor. After removal, a lamina of tissue cut from the tooth is drilled and fitted with optics. The lamina is grown in the patients’ cheek for a period of months to develop its own blood supply and then implanted upon the eye. It’s proven to work.

Mouse in the house?  Lucky you, a paste of dead mice was used in ancient Egypt to treat coughs and toothaches.  Warts?  Try placing ½ a dead mouse over the area.  It seemed to work in the 1500s but happily is now out of favour.

Seeking eternal life?  Forget the toxic mercury elixir.  As Chinese Emperor Qin Shin Huang discovered, mercury causes vision loss, neuropathy, lack of coordination, impaired hearing, muscle weakness and death.

Tipsy toes.  Stinky Feet?  Buy a bottle of pure (not flavoured) 80 proof Vodka. Next, dampen a cotton ball with the liquor and rub it over your feet.  The high alcohol content kills the bacteria causing your foot odour. You can also combine ¼ cup of  Vodka with 3-4 drops of pure tea tree oil in a dark glass spray bottle.  Spritz onto the bottoms of your feet.

Fart sniffing.  It was common during the Black Death to keep a flatulent cow in the home to counteract exposure.  I don’t expect it will work any better with COVID than it did with the Bubonic plague.

Speaking of gassy cows, Burger King has introduced a reduced methane patty created by adding Lemongrass to cattle feed.  What first caught my attention was their video advertisement featuring “a country jingle and a yodeling, guitar-playing boy who emerges from a cow’s “dairy air” singing, “When cows fart and burp and splatter, well, it ain’t no laughing matter….”1

Other researchers are currently looking into the addition of methane-reducing seaweeds, garlic and bitter orange extracts to cattle feed.

Note:  Though we may eventually find that certain herbs may be beneficial for the coronavirus, the science is scarce and now is not the time to start experimenting with herbal remedies on your own.

1. www.herbalgram 2020  issue 128

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