Back when I was little, in the ’30s and ’40s, Grammie Tucker largely used home remedies. I was raised on the farm with Grampa and Grammie Tucker until I was 10 1/2 years old. The only time I remember ever going to the doctor was to relocate an elbow bone from a fall on the ice and a bad pain in my stomach in the middle of a wild winter night that involved a wild snowshoe dash through miles of forest by Grampa for the doctor after his Ford V8 refused to crank over. That’s another whole story.

I remember well the mustard plasters Grammie would make and put on my chest with flannel to loosen up congestion. Loosening up congestion before it starts causing infection is crucial. It worked then. It has worked for hundreds of years, and it works now and is super simple to make with a couple of things in your kitchen cupboard. Such is the nature of nature, as it were. (Look up recipes on YouTube.)

Besides all the things I grew up with, I have, over the decades, learned much more about nature’s natural “medicines” and preventives. It has saved me countless hundreds of dollars, and, I surmise, kept me from many illnesses.

I was led into my research and use of herbs and home remedies involuntarily, you might say. I was raising a parcel load of young’uns and couldn’t afford to be dragging them off to the doc’s for every sneeze and sniffle. Over the course of a few decades, I found that we stayed much healthier, especially since natural remedies don’t come with an arm’s length of “possible side effects.”

Now my young’uns have young’uns and they use some of the same remedies. I have 15 grandkids and nine great-grandkids. And there’s an explosion of new great-grandkids due in the next three months. Six new ones. One is due now, may be here by the time you read this; three more due in the County — includes a set of twins — and two in Florida.

Let me say, right up front here, in case there’s some gov’ment lurker looking to arrest me for practicing medicine. I’m not advising you to use anything. I’m just relating things folk have used — “folk medicine” — for hundreds of years and some that I use, some that I make, and that I find work for me. I once wrote a weekly column on this stuff titled “It Works for Me.”

So you all remember now, do your own research, don’t take any one person’s or book’s word for anything. For serious sickness, get off to a doctor.

But take it from a white-haired ole Gramma, you can’t go wrong with nature — well, you can — after all, you wouldn’t roll around in a patch of poison ivy on purpose. Should you find you have stumbled into a patch, look around. There will be a patch or two of jewel-weed, with its small, orange trumpet-shaped blossoms and stems with a milky substance that has long been used as a natural antidote. There are some plants, like penny-royal, that I won’t use. But you know what I mean.

There are some plants that we all know, like the wondrous, wrongly maligned king of plants: The mighty dandelion, or as the French call it, “pissenlit,” for its propensity to increase urine flow, which in turn, flushes germs and bacteria out of the system. And that is only one of a whole cartload of benefits the lowly dandelion has in store. Every part of it has its uses, including a mighty fine white wine from its blossoms. I figure God must’ve meant us to use it ’cause he sure made a lot of it, and he spread it liberally around the world. Man calls it a weed that must be eradicated, killed, banished by any means available.

I gather St. John’s wort in July and make both a balm and a tincture. “Wort” is the ancient word for “plant” or “weed” and St. John’s got its name in honor of St. John, whose birthday is in July. The balm is a good cream for scratches and cuts, bug bites, etc. The tincture is touted for stress, anxiety and such, but I don’t take it internally, and it can have adverse side effects. It is especially important to stay out of the sun when using it. Nothing keeps me out of the sun. But I make a lot of my tinctures for pennies on the dollar. For example, St. John’s wort tincture runs from 30-something dollars for 4 ounces. I pick my blossoms free. The carrier is vodka. So, how much does 4 ounces of cheap vodka cost?

I grow my own comfrey and make my own formula of salve that includes several other ingredients, including calendula and wild lettuce, coconut oil and bee’s wax. Comfrey’s nickname is “bone knit.” It is well deserved. It’s amazing for helping to heal broken bones, including after surgery. But it’s also super for cuts, scrapes and such as well. But not for deep cuts, because it heals so fast it can heal over the top before the deeper part of the wound has healed. That could cause infection. Always do your research.

But these past two years, I have largely been concentrating on things to stop colds, congestion, sore throat, runny noses and flu in their tracks. First is my “penicillin soup.” I’ve been making that for decades before there were PCs, let alone a YouTube to consult. Its basics: Into a large pot of chicken broth (real broth), throw several chopped onions, a whole lot of garlic — like bulbs’ worth — thyme, ginger, rosemary, a bit of myrrh if you have it. (Easy on that. It’s musty-tasting.) Each ingredient has its job. I won’t list them here. Not enough room. (The very first article on me in The Journal was about my penicillin soup — in the early ’80s. I still run into people downtown who say they still make it when a sniffle comes along.)

Now, for this past going-on-two-years of insanity, I have concentrated on my old remedies having to do with “colds, sore throats, congestion” — mustard plaster and penicillin soup, for example. And I have made some of the new mixtures that people are using. I’ll let you look up stuff on the ‘net yourselves, but some use grapefruit and lemon peels. The process is tedious, and the end product only keeps about a week. I thought: “Hm. I wonder if grapefruit and lemon peel essential oils — a few drops in water — wouldn’t work as well. And a bottle of essential oil will last for months and months.

I have used essential oils for years. Most of them also have folk-medicine uses. I especially like them for use in diffusers. And for diffusers, I especially like frankincense, lavender and orange oils.

Part of the insanity swirling around us today affects our relations with our medical providers. They are, for the most part, hamstrung and ruled by dictates from bureaucrats. It’s a tough time for them.

In the meantime, there is much we can do for ourselves and our families while we all struggle to get on the other side of all this. And much of that day happening is up to us as “individuals together.”

Let’s take control of our lives. Let’s make 2022 “our year.”

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.

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