Great-Grandma's Homemade Remedies on the Homestead

Homemade remedies were our great-grandmother's specialty on our Kansas homestead.

| Good Old Days

Doctors were few when settlers moved into new territories and Great-grandmother was often called on to diagnose common ailments and prescribe medicines for their treatment. She depended on the healthful properties of native plants and herbs.

Many older citizens remember the sulfur and molasses prescribed as an annual spring tonic; it was supposed to thin the blood and improve one's physical condition for spring work. Roots of the sassafras tree were a popular blood thinner, too.

Children were taught to gather leaves from the pokeberry, curly dock, dandelion and wild mustard. The spring greens, when cooked, added variety to dull meals and supposedly improved digestion.

For treating food poisoning and stomach disorders, Great-grandmother might recommend a beverage made from bergamot, fennel, catnip, peppermint, ginger or yarrow leaves. Her medicine for relieving rheumatic pains was a tea brewed from the leaves of the cinquefoil. To stop a nosebleed, she applied crushed leaves of the yarrow. Bee stings were treated with white ash leaves, while chewing the prickly ash berry soothed toothaches.

Skin tonics utilized the bark of the white oak or the dogwood and geranium roots. Some of these ingredients are still listed on the labels of medicine bottles.

After paying a bill for miracle drugs today, one almost longs for the potent all-curing tonics from Great-grandmother's kitchen. 

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