Day 76: Cures and Remedies: from Diarrhea to Inflammation

Here’s the second part of some traditional Appalachian cures and remedies listed in “Foxfire One”. NOTE that all cures and remedies using turpentine, kerosene, pokeweed, and sulfur are not recommended as these items are toxic. 

Take a tea of red oak bark.
Drink some blackberry juice.

The following is a remedy that Dr. John Fowler found handwritten, carefully folded and tucked away in an old book. It is presented here as written. “A receipt for the dropsy 3 qts of apple vinegar nine bunches of black snake root three bunches of sinaker snaker root three hanful of stare root three hanful of cammil flours too hanful of worm wood forty five new nails put them all in a iron oven set them in the coroner by the fier let it stand nine days till it works then rige out [“rige,” sometimes spelled “rench,” means strain or remove foreign matter] and in the same oven add one bottle of rum one pound of sugar then set on a slow fier simer it down four days to too bottls full one spoonful at a dose eat no fat meat and no sweat milk keep out of the rain and dew.“

Take high proof liquor, put it in a cup and set it afire, and after it burns and goes out, drink what’s left.
Drink some blackberry juice.
Drink a tea made of strawberry leaves.
Peel off first layer of bark from a persimmon tree. Take the next layer of soft bark and swallow three mouthfuls of the juice. You can also use white oak bark.
Dig up two dewberry root vines and boil the roots in a quart of water, strain.
Make a tea of willow leaves. “It cures the dysentery nine times out of ten”—Aunt Arie.

Pour drops of juice from the buddie blooms (sweet shrub) into ear.
Dissolve table salt in lukewarm water and pour this into ear. This dissolves the wax which is causing the pain.
Put either wet ashes wrapped in a cloth, or hot ashes in a sack on ear and hold there.
Save the liquid that boils out of the ends of hickory and persimmon wood when burned, and pour this liquid into ear.
Pour castor oil, or sweet oil, or British oil into ear.
Put several drops of sewing machine oil in ear. (One person claimed that the reason this worked so well was that our body is a machine too.)
Roast cabbage stalks and squeeze the juice into ear.
Break apart a Betty bug at the neck, and squeeze one or two drops of blood into ear.
Warm a spoonful of urine and put a few drops in ear.
Hold your head close to a hot lamp.
Put a few ashes in an old rag. Dampen it with hot water and sleep with your head on it.

Put a few drops of castor oil in eye.
A sty can be removed by running the tip of a black cat’s tail over it.

Tie a bag containing the sufferer’s nail paring to a live eel. It will carry the fever away.
Snakeroot tea will bring it down.
Boil two roots of wild ginger in a cup of water, strain, and drink.
Boil a cup of pennyroyal leaves in a pint of water and drink.

Gather some boneset, put the leaves in a sack, and put it in the sun to dry. Make sure it has air or it will mold. Then cook the leaves in some water, strain, and drink.
Chew rabbit tobacco.

Boil catnip leaves to make a tea, and give the child about a quarter cup. Use one cup of leaves to a pint of water to make him sleep.

Take a spoonful of pure corn whiskey and Black Draught.

Bind wilted beet leaves on the forehead.
Tie a flour sack around your head.
Put several ginseng roots in a piece of brown paper and tie to your head.
Put turpentine and beef tallow in a bandage and tie it tightly around your head.
Pour hot water over mustard leaves to rouse their odor and strength. Bind these leaves in a poultice to head with a cheesecloth strip.
Smear brow with crushed onions.
When you get your hair cut, gather up all the clippings. Bury them under a rock and you will never have a headache. Old-timers would never allow their hair to be burned or thrown away as it was too valuable.
Use a poultice of horseradish leaves.
Rub camphor and white whiskey on head.

Make a tea of heartleaf leaves and take two or three tablespoons three times a day. One person said she would boil the heart leaves together with leaves from the rat’s vein plant.
Take root of a bleeding heart, break it up, and make a tea of it.
Eat ramps and garlic. You can eat them cooked or raw.

Take a teaspoon of peanut butter.
Put half a teacup of dried apples in a teacup of water in a pot.
Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Strain out the remains of the apples, and drink the juice while hot.

Make a tea of boneset leaves, using one tablespoonful. You may use them fresh or dried.

BEE STINGS—Chew or mash ragweed and put it on sting to deaden pain and reduce swelling.
Put moist snuff, mud, tobacco juice, or red clay on it.
Put castor oil on it.
Take seven different kinds of leaves. Wad and twist them together, tear the wad in half, and rub the sting.
Place either turpentine, chewed tobacco, tobacco juice, kerosene, or a mixture of sugar and dough on the sting. Any of these will relieve the pain and draw out the poison.
Crush a few chrysanthemum leaves and rub the juice on the sting.

PACKSADDLE STINGS—Chew or mash ragweed and put it on the sting to deaden pain.

CHIGGER BITES—To relieve itching and infection, rub chewed snuff or tobacco over the bites.
Make a mixture of butter and salt to stop itching.

SPIDER BITES—If bitten by a black widow spider, drink liquor heavily from 3 P.M. to 7 P.M. YOU won’t get drunk, you’ll be healed.

BUGS—For head lice (cooties), shingle hair close and use Kerosene.
For chinches or bed bugs, burn sulfur in a closed house.

HIVES—Boil chestnut oak leaves and apply the resulting dark juice to the affected areas. Or take any of a variety of teas to break them out. These teas include catnip, ground ivy, a tea made from the mashed up berries of the tread-save, red alder leaves, raw alder bark scraped uphill, or a tea from cockle burrs. Wrap the latter in a rag and make the tea by straining.
Make a catnip tea using ten leaves of catnip. Boil it in one and a half or two cups of water. Take a teaspoon three or four times a day. Especially good for babies.

POISON IVY—Use a mixture of buttermilk or vinegar and salt.
Make a strong brown tea by boiling willow leaves, and put the tea on the affected area.
Take some witch hazel and add all the boric acid that will dissolve in it. Apply to all affected parts of the skin.
Rub wild touch-me-not on the area.
Rub the infection with the inside surface of a banana.
Slice open a green tomato and run the juice over the affected area.
Apply either linseed oil, a mixture of epsom salts and baking soda, white shoe polish, or the water drawn off cooked oatmeal. One can also blister the irritated spots with turpentine, or add half a teaspoonful of soda to half a pint of buttermilk and bathe the affected areas.

OKRA STING—Put four ounces of good live copperas in one quart of boiling water and let cool. Wash affected areas with water as hot as you can bear it for twenty minutes about four times a day.

ERYSIPELAS (skin disease)—Use a poultice of peach tree leaves and corn meal.
Make a salve of balm of Gilead buds fried in mutton tallow. Add Vaseline if you wish. The best tallow to use is McQueen’s Pure Mutton Tallow which is available in many A&Ps.

ITCH—Use sulfur and lard.
Use gunpowder and sulfur.
Wash some yellowroot and put it on the affected area.

INFLAMMATION—Bind salty fat meat to a stone bruise or a thorn in the foot to draw out the inflammation. A poultice of clay will do the same thing.
To kill infection, pour some turpentine or kerosene mixed with sugar on the affected area.
Make a tea of poke roots by boiling them in water for a couple of minutes. Dip a cloth in it and rub on the affected area. (Be careful not to get any in your mouth.)

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