Many years ago, the Appalachian mountains were rugged and sparsely populated. Earlier
settlers built the homes on mountain tops that were only accessable by horseback. Because
of this fact, most settlers relied on home remedies to cure their ailments. Some of these
remedies were based solely on superstitions while others were based on a knowledge of the
vast amounts of herbs that grew in the mountains. Below are some of these remedies. I
do not recommend readers try these remedies without consulting their doctors first.
- Cut a large-size grapevine and catch a pint of the clear, watery sap. Washing hair in it
will make hair grow longer and thicker.
- Snapdragon Tea makes a soothing cordial for the nerves and a stimulate for the heart.
- Eating watercress increases the iron in the blood.
- Onion poultice placed hot on the chest will relieve the symptoms of pneumonia.
- A cure for shingles is killing a black chicken and placing some of the blood on the
- Peel a potato and put it on a sore to draw out the infection and reduce swelling.
- Cook the oil out of fishworms and rub on joints for relief from rheumatism.
- To stop an earache, blow smoke in the person's ear.
- Use yellow root for stomach problems.
- Eat pickled tomatoes for colds.
- Put soot on a cut to stop the bleeding.
- Do not approach contagious diseases with an empty stomach.
- Do not sit between the sick person and the fire, because the heat will attract the vapor
- Salt should always be eaten with nuts to aid in digestion.
- Set a pan of water under the headboard of the bed to cure night sweats.
- For nose-bleeds, place scissors against the back of the neck to stop the bleeding.
- For rheumatism, carry a buckeye in your pocket on whichever side that is affected.
- One should be cautious about entering a sick room in a state of perspiration, because as
you cool, your pores will absorb the sickness.
- To keep a child in good health put a small amount of asafetida in a cloth bag and tie it
around the child's neck.
- Anvil dust mixed with cream makes a good spring tonic.
- An ax under the bed of a woman in labor will cut the pain.
- Beet juice is good for the blood.
- Warm borax water will remove dandruff.
- For a cold in the head, nothing is better than powered borax, sniffed up the nostrils.
- Whooping cough paroxysms are relieved by breathing the fumes of turpentine and carbolic
- Hemorrhages of the lungs and stomach are promptly checked by small doses of salt. The
patient should be kept as quiet as possible.
- Sleeplessness caused by too much blood in the head may be overcome by applying a cloth
wet with cold water to the back of the neck.
- Powdered resin is the best thing to stop bleeding from cuts. After the powder is
sprinkled on, wrap the wound with soft, cotton cloth. As soon as the wound begins to feel
feverish, keep the cloth wet with cold water.
- For a sprained ankle, the whites of eggs and powdered alum made into plaster is almost a
- For sunstroke, wrap a wet cloth bandage over the head, wet another cloth folded small,
square, and cover it thickly with salt. Bind it on the back of the neck. Apply dry salt
behind the ears, and put mustard plasters to the calves of the legs and the soles of the
- Sufferers from asthma should get a muskrat skin and wear it over their chest with the
fur side next to the body.
- For high blood pressure, each morning for thirty days take one teaspoon of Epsom Salts.
Also a little garlic could be eaten before breakfast each day.
- To take a cinder out of the eye, place one ot two grains of flax seed in the eye. The
seed will remove the irritating object without pain.
- A bag of hot sand relieves neuralgia.
- A little soda water will relieve sick headache caused by indigestion.
- Nervous spasms are usually relieved by a little salt taken into the mouth and allowed to
- For the itch: Mix sulphur powder into lard, making a thick paste. Rub on the infected
area for three nights. On the fourth night, take a hot bath and your itch is gone.
It might be of interest to those unfamiliar to the Appalachian Mountains that we now
have Doctors, modern Hospitals with the lastest technology, and ambulance and paramedic
services. The customs listed above were at one time used, about 100 years ago, and with
the exception of a few old timers, are not used today.