Home Remedies

If you’re sick, don’t tell your friends, at least not the helpful ones.

It all started with a sore throat. “Try my sore throat remedy,” boasted a one-armed friend named Fred.” (He had lost his arm in a tree-cutting accident, and had accidentally burned down a building on a campground once, while trying to help others. That should have been an omen.)

Fred’s Sore Throat Gargle contained water, aspirin, iodine, salt, and baking soda. That sounded like a recipe to blow up my tonsils. As the old-timers said, “If it don’t kill ya it’ll cure ya.”

We used to have neighbors who, though not highly educated, had a cure for anything that ailed us. Got appendicitis? Crawl down the stairs three times and bump your stomach on each step. Low energy? Slurp some of their nutritional supplement that suspiciously resembled wine. Feeling sick? Sleep with a scarf around your neck, gulp down cough medicine.

That reminds me of a cure-all which used to be advertised by Lawrence Welk when I was a kid. “Got iron-poor, tired blood? Take _____,” the announcer would say. It turned out this miracle product had a high alcohol content. I suppose they thought you should slurp it until you didn’t feel anything.

Our daughter got a second-degree sunburn on her legs. A fiend, er, friend, suggested, “Get in the shower and run the hottest water you can stand on the sunburn.” Could anything be more disastrous to your skin?

History has handed down outrageous home remedies.  According to our ancestors, for acne, just apply urine to the spots. (It doesn’t work.) Want to heal a sore throat? Apply salt herring to the soles of the feet. Got an earache? Blow tobacco smoke into the sore ear. Need help getting rid of shingles? Hang a turpentine-soaked string around your neck. My father-in-law used to swallow kerosene to cure a cold. He may not have been cured, but he glowed nicely.

I repeat: If you’re sick, don’t tell your friends. At least not the helpful ones.

Roberta Sarver is an author and songwriter who lives in central Missouri. Her humor columns appear in the Versailles Leader-Statesman and her original songs of worship have appeared on radio stations across the nation. She and her husband are the parents of seven children.

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