Grandma’s Home Remedies

By Lannette M. Fetzer

Grandmothers, everyone has one! They have a tremendous amount of valuable knowledge. For generations, families have benefited from their grandmother’s knowledge of home remedies for healing illnesses to cleaning the house after the illness. Merriam Webster defines home remedy as “a simply prepared medication or tonic often of unproven effectiveness administered without prescription or professional supervision.” 

During my childhood, if my siblings or I became ill, we were sent to grandma’s neighboring home. Conveniently, grandma always had a secret home remedy for comfortable healing. I recall my grandmother saying the cures for illnesses are grown in gardens and nearby meadows. Some of her favorites were dandelion tea, tree bark tea, peppermint leaves, ginseng, and marshmallow root to name a few. During healthier times, my grandmother would take us on scavenger hunts deep in the woods for ginseng root and during the summer, to her secret wild blueberry patches. Looking back, my grandmother was well-versed to the benefits of ginseng and blueberries. Although ginseng is often used for its various healing attributes, it’s medicinal use has not yet been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Blueberries, however, have evidence-based research that supports the efficacy of their health benefits. Blueberries may help decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. They also contain calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin K, and zinc, all great for bone health.

My grandmother had a home remedy for anything. Whether it was gargling with warm saltwater for a sore throat or a cup of chicken soup for the flu, grandma’s home remedies always seemed to help. Chicken soup’s efficacy is supported by research for alleviating symptoms of the flu. The research shows that the vegetables have properties that slow the neutrophils and reduce white blood cell count and helps with decreasing inflammation. For nasal and chest congestion, filling a sink with steamy water, placing your covered head over the sink and breathing in, seemed to help. If the weather was cold, going outside and taking a deep breath in opened the airways. Another favorite was taking an Epsom salt and ginger bath for body aches and sprains. She also had cleaning concoctions that were either white vinegar and baking soda or hot water and bleach. 

Home remedies have been around for thousands of years. Before common medications were developed, such as NyQuil (1966), Tylenol (1950’s) and Benadryl (1943), people relied on their cherished home remedies. My all-time favorite home remedy, heavily supported by evidence-based research, is the traditional thorough washing of your hands! Effective handwashing prevents the spread of infection and is cost effective. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reports “Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water.” The CDC recommends one should wash their hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Other cost-effective home remedies include living a healthy lifestyle and practicing infection prevention all the time. The CDC has a great website that explains what infection is, how it is transmitted, and how to prevent it. Check it out:

Modern technology and Google have afforded us the ability to research ANYTHING. Type in the words home remedy and there are about 194,000,000 results! Pretty astonishing, isn’t it? Yes, there appears to be a home remedy for just about any illness. I recognize there are herbs and essential oils heavily marketed and utilized in society, however it is crucial to consult with your primary care provider before utilizing any of the above, starting any diets, exercise, supplements, or home remedies and to make an appointment with your primary care provider for illness.

Home Remedy Definition retrieved at:
CDC Infection Prevention Guidelines retrieved at:

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