In the good old days, traveling or “Snake Oil” salesmen would slither into remote towns like Walnut Grove or Deadwood and bring with them a treasure trove of exotic medicines, magical elixirs & guaranteed cures for whatever was ailing you. Granted, 99% of time it was just booze used as a placebo effect, but every once in awhile someone managed to shill a root or herb mixed concoction that actually seemed to possess medicinal qualities.

However, in most cases, the slick selling charlatan smartly ditched town quickly in fear of being lynch mobbed, after the duped residents got wise, realizing that bottle of whiskey diluted with blackberry juice & egg shells wasn’t going to cure rabies.

It seems everyone and their Grandma seemed to have a favorite home remedy they claimed  looked after everything from headaches to plow rash. It should come as no surprise that so many of these cures stem from everyday items easily accessible in any little house on a prairie. Food being the most readily available in most cases. I’m sure many a desperate Pioneer women tried to MacGyver anything from turnip to back bacon if it meant ridding their child of chicken pox.

Thanks to the internet, one can now document the time line of outlandish homegrown cures from the dawn of time to the present day. Who needs all those years of pesky and costly education when you can just tell a desperate person online to stick a bulb of garlic in his ear to cut down on a bad case of hiccups? Google has enabled everyone to become a snake oils salesmen in their own right. The fact these tips for curing what ails you are now free  and in most cases anonymous just makes it decidedly more scarier. Telling people your Grandmother swore by it doesn’t make it any less crazy. For all I know she has eighty cats & home cures her dander allergies using butter and a Civil War era bugle.

But they do make for a hilarious read.

Black Ants For Your Pants

Still used in some parts of the world today, black ants are said to be a powerful aphrodisiac. Gather a good amount, dry them out & grind them up. It’s suggested that you mix the powder into wine. Apparently anyone who downs this magical potion will soon become ferociously enamored. I’m sure the wine doesn’t hurt the cause either.

Have a Wart? Get to a Butcher

This one stems from Europe. If you have a wart you want gone quickly, just grab a piece of meat and apply directly to the unsightly blemish. Take the said meat and bury it in the ground. As it deteriorated and rots in the ground, the wart should subside directly. I also suggest Oscar Meyer bologna for cold sores.

Hangover Cure That Makes You Say – EWE!

According to historical notes, after pillaging, murdering and too much libation, Genghis Kahn and his troops would eat pickled sheep’s eyeballs and wash it down with a mixture of brine and tomato juice. Hmm, maybe the Bloody Mary originates from this Fear Factor worthy recipe.

Why Not Just Pee on It? notes that if you get stung by a jellyfish while enjoying a day at the beach, vodka will disinfect the wound, thus alleviating any discomfort by applying it directly over the affected area. I would imaging drinking a few shots of Grey Goose would easily ensure you’re no longer bothered by the sting either. Just saying.

Nose Bleed? Penny For Your Thoughts

Back in the Pioneer Days, when someone came down with a severe nose bleed, the town Doctor would always suggest this no fail remedy. Take 1 penny and place between the patients upper lip and teeth. It’s documented that this worked religiously.

 Onion Glad that Earache is Gone?

The Big Doctor’s Book of Home Remedies cites that cutting an Onion in half and baking at 350 degrees will help rid you of that nagging earache. When it’s soft, wrap it in a towel and hold over your ear. It helps draw out the infection and works great on babies, who don’t have to go to work and worry about being shunned by fellow employees because your head smells like a funky Greek salad. Another popular old fashioned use for a onion was to slice it in half, place it in a bowl of water so it would draw the sickness in the house away from everyone else. Classic.

Willy Wonka’s Corny Foot Mix

Do your feet resemble the sun damaged corinthian leather interior of  a 1975 Chrysler Cordoba? Head on down to the candy shop! Licorice contains estrogen-like substances that soften the hard skin of calluses and corns,” says the Institute of Whole Health. Make this homemade licorice paste: Grind up some black licorice, mix them with ½ teaspoon of petroleum jelly, and rub the mixture into the rough areas of your feet. Oompa Loompa approved!

No Need to Old Yeller That Feller

Did your dog swallow something he shouldn’t have? Marble, Lego Block etc? Evidently all dogs can go to heaven from this. Don’t worry about an expensive vet visit though. Just cut some ham up into cubes about 1 to 3 inches square, depending on the size of the dog. Allow the dog to eat as much as he will eat of the ham, then allow to drink as much water as he will. This bloats the ham they have eaten like a dry sponge in their stomach and will usually force any object out the cheap and easy way.

Give Sassafras a Chance

From a book of old Pioneer remedies comes this gem. Ladies if you are on bad terms with the husband, take an ample amount of sassafras root, steep in a pint of water and fill a bottle. When he comes back into the kitchen (this is from a book – please don’t direct angry “sexist” comments to me) take the biggest swig of this brew possible and hold it in your mouth until he goes away. A sure cure it says. Year later this remedy would be replaced by Couples counseling.


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