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Grandma’s Medical Treatment Consisted of Natural Remedies

Author Photo
By Heart Of The Home | Feb 18, 2013

Illustration By Brian Orr
Grandmother treating grandchild's cold with a kettle filled with boiling water and Vicks, and a towel draped over child's head to breathe in the steam.

When my father was called to fight in World War II, he left
my sister and me in the tender, loving and capable hands of our grandparents,
who lived in Woodward, Oklahoma. Grandma had a natural remedy for
all of life’s uncertainties.

For a chest congestion, she treated us with a warm mustard
pack. To knock out a cold, she filled an old kettle with boiling water and
Vicks, and then draped a towel over our heads. She then had us lean over the
kettle to breathe in the steam. I must say, it sure didn’t take long after a
breathing treatment before we were able to breathe through our noses again.

During the summer months, my sister and I always played
outside, and the yard was covered with anthills. Fire ants are aggressive when
guarding their territory, and since they blended into the red sandy soil, they
were difficult to see. However, we knew they were there when we got bit or
stung, which happened frequently. Lucky for us, Grandma had a remedy for fire ant bites,
too. She rubbed hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, which she had mixed into a
paste, gently over the welts that appeared on our tender young skin. What a
remedy! I still use it for all kinds of bites and stings because it really does

Every year come spring and fall, Grandma pulled out the cod
liver oil, which was her remedy for good health. The smell and taste was worse
than horrible – in fact, it’s indescribable. When I was younger and saw Grandma
get out the dreaded bottle of cod liver oil, I would take off and hide, leaving
my sister to fend for herself. It only prolonged the inevitable, though. It
didn’t matter how long I stayed hidden, Grandma was waiting for me. Our reward
for being brave and taking our good-health medicine was Grandma’s famous butter
and sugar sandwiches. What made the sandwiches special was that she cut them
diagonal; a sandwich cut diagonally always tastes better than one cut straight

I suppose in the 1940s, cod liver oil may have been
beneficial for overall good health; Grandma sure thought it was, anyway. I
raised three children, and I never once gave them cod liver oil, but I did cut
their sandwiches diagonally. 



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