Home Remedies

Woman pouring a drink into a tea cup

Home Remedies and Their Effectiveness 

Almost every mom has gotten the call: A frantic husband, babysitter, or sibling yelling into the phone while a small child screams in the background.

When my call came, it wasn’t my husband and it wasn’t my kid, but I was the only mom around so I got the call.

A new guy had just joined the sports department in the newspaper where I worked, moving his family across the country to take the job. He didn’t know anybody and his wife had left him in charge of their 1-year-old daughter, who minutes after her mother left the house picked up her mom’s hot curling iron.

This was in the days before cell phones and my new co-worker didn’t know who to call. So he called work. I was the only mom on duty that day, so they handed the phone to me.

The baby was wailing and the dad was frantic. What should he do?

Stick her hand in the sink and run cool water over it, I replied. Do NOT put anything on it, like butter, I yelled over all the screaming.

He slammed the phone down.

I called him back 30 minutes later to see how things turned out. She loved playing in the water, forgot her hand hurt, and didn’t even have a blister, he reported, and thanks for the help!

Most parents, grandparents, and caregivers have to make calls on the fly, and they usually go with what their parents did. It’s like an instinct. But sometimes those instincts are wrong – and not because your parents or grandparents intended to do the wrong thing – like put butter on a burn – but that’s what their parents did.

Sometimes Remedies Might or Might Not Work

Putting butter on a burn can actually make it worse because it keeps the heat in. Another home remedy, that doesn’t work is painting chigger bites with nail polish

because it doesn’t work. Use hydrocortisone or Calamine lotion.

Of course, there are home remedies that really do work – like wet chewing tobacco on a bee sting. Yea, it works.

My mom used to chase me down and dose me with whiskey and honey for a cough (I still can’t drink whiskey). Turns out the whiskey can break up a cough and the honey is good for sore throats, which come with coughs. My mom spooned her concoction out one teaspoon at a time. Too much alcohol can leave you dehydrated and make you feel worse.

Gargling warm salt water can help soothe a sore throat, and drinking pickle juice can help with muscle cramps. Drinking coffee can help with constipation, and a few drops of hydrogen peroxide in the ear and then drained can help an earache.

Likely, your family has its own share of home remedies that have been passed down, sometimes for generations. Before you use them on your own kids – or grandkids – check with your doctor to make sure that they work and don’t make things worse.

By Amanda Rogers for Surepoint Medical Centers

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash


Amanda Rogers is a freelance writer based in Fort Worth, Texas

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