10 Weird remedies from near and far

snow-family-673944-mBrrr!!! It’s finally scarf weather (even here in Southern California), and cold and flu season is full upon us.

For the next several months, performers of all kinds are especially vigilant about health issues, as there are plenty of germs and viruses to go around, and we’re heading into peak season.  So we’d like to celebrate this annual rite with a collection of bizarre and unusual health remedies, all touted to offer relief for cold and/or flu.

mortar and pestle with herbsThe requisite disclaimer:  This post is designed primarily for entertainment, not treatment or advice.  Most examples are collected here as amalgams from multiple sources, except for two particular examples at the end, which we quote and link to directly.  Use your head, check with your doctor, and do the usual rest/liquids/eat smart routine.  In the meantime, enjoy!

honey_and_peppercorns1)  Sweet, hot and homemade

South African moms are said to make their own cough syrup with equal parts honey and black pepper.  It’s powerful stuff, but the combination of cleansing heat and soothing golden goo is purported to be very effective in breaking up a hacking cough.

onions in a bowl2)  Onions in many forms

Onions are known to benefit the respiratory system, and are recommended as a daily food for asthma sufferers.  But in the 16th century, their mere presence was deemed enough to clear the air (of everything but onion, we imagine):  Just put them in a bowl and wait for good health to come to you.

earphones3)  Soothing more than the savage beast

Listers have probably already guessed — music’s healing properties can really help.  Particular benefits have been found with jazz, choral music and soft rock, but just about anything that moves you will also increase circulation and (theoretically) boost immunity.  You’ll feel good about your own impact on the world, too…

turnips4)  The little veg that could

Full of vitamins C and B, this lowly vegetable packs a nutrition wallop.  Although it’s not yet scientifically supported, Iranian families have long believed that a nice plate of mashed turnips also acts as an expectorant.  Boil until soft, mash them up, add butter to make them a little creamier.  Try a little nutmeg like the Swedes do, or maybe a little horseradish to help clear the sinuses…

seaside walk5)  A stroll by the sea

Bundle up and get out there (but maybe keep your shoes on…)!  An old Scottish cure calls for nettle tea and a walk for fresh air.  Not just any air, mind you — sea air is essential, and said to help clear congestion, right quick.

sourpuss face6)  The nose knows

An old tribal congestion remedy from Columbia is quite logical:  carry a small sachet full of “stinky stuff” and sniff regularly, to break up the goop.  Examples of aromatic ingredients include bay leaves, crushed garlic, and coarsely ground nutmeg.  You could also include onions, peppermint or spearmint oil, or menthol.

crumpled paper7)  Save those packages!

This remedy puts scraps to use:  take a long piece of brown paper, punch it with holes, and pin securely around your throat before you go to bed.  It’s not clear how this is supposed to help, neither are we sure how to avoid paper cuts…

oriental tree lizard8)  Reptilian remedy

You probably won’t find Hong Kong’s traditional lizard soup on your local take-out menu, but specialty suppliers will have the dried ingredients for this exotic concoction that also includes yams and Chinese dates.  Um… yum??

top_hat9)  Two hats are better than one

This “silk hat cure”, popular in the 19th century, smacks of stylish wishful thinking, and not a little rationalization for boozing it up, which is not actually advisable when ill:  Take a silk hat and place it on the right-hand bedpost.  Lie quietly and sip heated brandy until you see two hats.  (Thanks to Myra Cameron and her Lifetime Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies for this one.)

bacon in the pan10)  Weirdness winner

Last but not least!  This two-for-one wonder is the oddest combo we found this year.  Here it is, verbatim, from BrownieLocks.com:

“For a sore throat:  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!)” 


The grand collection

We’re starting a grand collection of exotic treatments from all over the world.  Have one to share?  Contact us, and perhaps we’ll include it in a future edition.  In the meantime, take care of yourselves — with thinking caps fully engaged, of course!

2 thoughts on “10 Weird remedies from near and far”

    • Must admit, researching this post was one of the more unusual rides in my writing experience. Yell if you find any others!

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