Folk Remedies: what works?


Weve all heard the saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away, or its a bitter pill, but is there any truth in these old sayings of Grandmas? Well, as with so many things, there were good folk remedies passed from generation to generation with their attached anecdotal stories- and there were the ones that the patient was killed by the cure.

As it turns out, it wasnt just grandma giving out folk remedies, physicians did it too. Its possible that grandmas remedies were less deadly than some, as many of her remedies were made with natural things from her kitchen spice rack.

Medicine and remedies were applied rather haphazardly but for the most part simple folk remedies made from simple ingredients may not have saved a life, but they didnt kill anyone either. Today we can scientifically take apart these simple cures and see there is actually some basis for those claims.

Lets take a look. Will an apple a day keep the doctor away? Whats in an apple that makes it such a cure all? Apples are high in vitamins A & C, potassium, magnesium and two other healing substances, pectin and malic acid. We know that vitamins A & C are vital for wound healing and fighting infection. Potassium is important for a healthy nervous system and a regular heart rhythm. It helps prevent stroke, aids in proper muscle contraction, and works with sodium to control the bodys water balance. Magnesium is vital for proper digestive enzyme function and more importantly calcium uptake. Physicians familiar with the joint and muscle aches associated with fibromyalgia, now suggest malic acid and magnesium in supplement form with seemingly good results. Pectin slows the absorption of food, which helps diabetics maintain a stable blood sugar. It also helps remove unwanted metals and other toxins. When raw apple cider vinegar is combined with a tablespoon of honey in water taken before meals it gears up the digestive juices and helps us get the most from our foods. Concentrated cherry juice, two tablespoons taken in a glass of water daily has many of the same affects. Its great for relief of the aches and pains of gout and arthritis.

The old saying about a bitter pill holds some truth as well. Some of natures most healing plants and plant herbs are bitter.  They help alkalize an overly acidic body and detoxify the liver.

Cayenne is well known for its ability to stop bleeding. Apply it directly to minor cuts. Try it in your socks in the winter; it will help keep your feet warm.

Jewelweed commonly found growing in the wet woodlands is one of the best poison ivy preventatives and treatments bar none.  Be sure that you positively ID the plant, then crush the leaves and rub them on bare skin. Preferably before exposure, but is useful to relieve the itch following exposure.

Garden sage is another plant used effectively for several common ailments. It has wonderful antifungal properties when used externally. Its a quick remedy for relieving itching and swelling that accompanies insect bite. As a tea with honey it is good for sore throats.

Over the years there have been many good publications on folk remedies check it out. Most folk remedies are simple and inexpensive, and the ingredients are easy to find and use. Many times one has to look no further than the spice rack or the local farmer market. Till next time, Rebecca.