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Herbal & Home Remedies

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Oct 04, 2017
Marion Tucker-Honeycutt's homemade St. John's Wort oil.

Grammie Tucker, back when I was little, in the '30s and '40s, largely used home remedies. I remember well the mustard plaster for congested lungs! It worked then. It worked for hundreds of years before. It works now. Such is the nature of nature, as it were. And every spring, we kids would get her spring tonic of sulfur and molasses. There was also, often, a spoonful of Father John's Tonic.

Besides all the things I grew up with, I have, over the decades, learned much more about nature's natural "medicines" and preventatives. It has saved me countless hundreds of dollars, and kept me from many illnesses. Besides watching my Grammie back then, I was led into further research and use of herbs and home remedies involuntarily, you might say.

I was raising a parcel load of young ones 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 bad side effects."

Now my young ones have young ones. (I have 15 grandkids and two great-grands.) They use many of the same "treatments."

Let me say, right up front here, if some guv'ment lurker — think NSA — looking to arrest me for "practicing medicine," I'm not going to be advising you on anything. I'll just be relating things folks have used, i.e., folk medicine, for hundreds of years and some that I use and that I find "work for me." (I once wrote a weekly column in another paper on this stuff titled: "It Works for Me.")

So you all remember now, do your own research. Don't take only one person's or book's word or YouTube video 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 and there are some plants, like penny-royal, that I won't use. But you know what I mean.

Right here in Maine we have lots of "wild medicine," starting and ending with the mighty dandelion that's first up in the spring, giving us a mess of greens to late fall gathering and drying its roots for eating and making teas and tinctures. This wrongly maligned plant of plants, the dandelion — or, as the French call it, "Pissenlit" — is known not just for a bowl of greens, but 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, loaded with vitamins and minerals, has in store.

I figure God must've meant us to use it 'cause He sure made a lot of it and He spread it around the world. (Dandelion is not indigenous to the Americas but it spread like wildfire after it got here.)

Today, I gathered a bunch of my comfrey leaves, also called "knit bone," to steep in oil — I used coconut oil — that is excellent for bumps, bruises and to help heal bones. I also grow my own calendula flowers and have them steeping as well. These are super good for preventing infection from scrapes and bruises.

I gathered St. John's Wort blossoms in July. They grown in profusion all over Maine throughout July, the month of St. John's birth, and I made oil that is also great for cuts and scrapes. Note: I do not make or use St. John's Wort tincture, which is widely used for depression and anxiety, as taking it can pose risks, including light sensitivity (to the sun) and nausea. No thanks, especially as I am addicted to the sun.

I also already have golden rod dried for winter tea and I also need to get out there and pick my rose hips from the Rosa Rugosa rose bushes before a frost sneaks in and zaps 'em. I cut them in half, those that I don't eat on the spot like little apples, and dry thoroughly. These both make a potent and natural Vitamin C cup of tea for warding off fall's colds and flu.

The list goes on and on. Indeed, my good buddy, Tom Seymour, has the best books on foraging for wild foods in Maine, bar none (available on Amazon). They should be in every Mainer's library — or maybe in the medicine chest and kitchen.

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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