October 13, 2013
Family Traditions: Home Remedies
My family had several go-to home remedies when I was a child. I remember my mom dipping a Q-tip in Merthiolate and dabbing it on my swollen tonsils. It tasted awful and it was no easy task getting me to hold still for the treatment. We always had a tin of alum in the medicine chest; mom used it on canker sores. It actually worked and now that I'm grown, I'm not past hunting down some alum if I need it. As a teen, mom prescribed milk of magnesia for my zits. "Just a dab before bed, and it'll be dried up in the morning," she'd say.
But our whole-family, all-time home remedy was Corona Ointment: Lanolin enriched antiseptic dressing and lubricant for horses and other animals. And we didn't call it Corona, or even lanolin. We called it "wool fat." Got a skinned knee? Go get the wool fat. Paper cut? Go get the wool fat. Ingrown toenail? Yep, get the wool fat.
This particular cure-all was handed down from my great-grandparents who raised racing horses. If it was good enough for the purebreds, it was good enough for us. And the thing is, it really worked. This mix of lanolin (wool fat), petrolatum, beeswax, sodium borate and aromatic oils did the trick almost every time. Cuts healed faster, bug bites stopped itching and inflammations calmed right down.
Almost every culture has home remedies that generations swear by. Filipinos use bitter melon for high blood pressure, Hispanic cultures use lemon for acne and Native Americans still use tobacco as a topical anesthetic.
What were some of your own family's home remedies? Until you stop to really think about it, you may not even realize a certain cure-all is unique to your family. You may think everyone does it! Take some time to write about your family's quirky cure-alls. Try to find out where the idea originated. Have some fun with the topic—start a conversation with your family members or ask your friends what cures are special to their families.