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Are old-fashioned cure-alls a shortcut to good health or legendary bunk?

Local residents offer their thoughts and remedies.

POSTED: September 5, 2010 4:30 a.m.

If you get a little cough or cold these days, a trip to the drug store usually is in order.

But years ago, when pharmacies weren't on every corner, people relied on tried-and-true home remedies concocted in the kitchen.

Mama or grandma would whip up a quick batch of something that had honey, lemon and possibly some liquor to cure many an ailment.

So do these methods truly work or are they old wives' tales that should be put to pasture?

Ladell Reynolds believes that at least one of these old remedies worked for her: the salve that her mother, Matilda Dalton, used to put on her as a child.

"Turpentine is what she used, turpentine and lard," Reynolds said. "She melded that turpentine and lard together. She would rub our chest if we had a cold and then she would put a flannel cloth pinned to our undershirt and would sleep in it overnight and that would cut your congestion out.

"It worked, too. Back then when I was growing up, you didn't run to the doctor all the time; my mama was the doctor. If parents would do things like this to their children now, they'd be better off."

Teresa White of Gainesville said she has used a home remedy for heartburn since she was pregnant with her second child.

"You take a quarter cup of water, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, a little pinch of salt and after you drink that, you lay down, and then in a few minutes you will feel better," she said. "I've used it for my kids."

It is wise to consider consulting a physician before creating a home remedy, but some already are believers in the homemade potions.

Virginia Mullennix said she is sticking with her home remedy for her kidneys, with or without medical approval. She learned her trick for keeping her kidneys healthy on a family farm in Kentucky.

"When I first went to visit my husband's family in Kentucky, I noticed a glass in the refrigerator with small pieces of something inside. I questioned my mother-in-law as to what it was. She explained that her husband kept it in there for his kidney health," she said in an e-mail sent to The Times.

"It was dandelion roots that had been collected from live dandelions in the spring, thoroughly washed, then cut into small pieces and left to soak in water until he felt he had need for the potion."

It was years before Mullennix used the potion, but it cured her pain and continues to do so.

"One day I felt a pain in the small of my back on one side," said Mullennix, who said she was told by a health professional that she had a bladder infection.

"When I went home, I decided to try my father-in-law's home remedy. Since there were always plenty of dandelions in our yard, I didn't have to look far to find what I needed. After digging several plants and cutting off the roots, I washed them well with a brush to get off all the dirt. Then I cut them up into small pieces and left them to soak a few hours in a large glass to collect the bitter liquid to drink."

When Mullennix returned to the health department the next day, the nurses told her she was clear of any infection.

But remedies don't always come from an old family secret.

Lynda Holmes said she got one off the old TV show "Hollywood Squares" and it worked for her.

"Use ice on a fever blister - so simple that I doubted it would work, but it has been effective," she said.

Holmes also suggested using meat tenderizer for bee and yellow jacket stings.

Dennis Lynn had another remedy for the same type of stings but there's a little more value to his remedy.

"Place a copper penny on a bee sting," he posted on The Times' Life Department Facebook page. "By golly, it works."

Nan McNeal learned another easy remedy for fever blisters from Elease Martin, who McNeal dubbed "The Home Remedy Queen." McNeal says to eat nutmeg when you feel a fever blister coming on.

"Just sprinkle a little in your hand whenever you think about it and eat it," she said. "Sometimes it totally works. Sometimes I still get the fever blister, but it seems to help it be less severe and go away a lot quicker."

Nutmeg, pennies, dandelion root or turpentine seem to all be cures for something according to local residents.

Whether treating fever blisters or bee stings, everyone has an idea of how to cure it - just be careful who you listen to.

 



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