USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘folk wisdom’
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A homemade cocklebur tea will cure a horse or cow of constipation

This informant spent his youth on a farm in Madison County, Nebraska.  His parents farmed many acres and they raised several kinds of livestock.  He first learned this folk remedy from one of his friends in high school.  He is not sure how it came up, but it’s never difficult for immature minds to reach constipation and other digestion problems as their source of conversation.  My informant has only heard of this remedy and doesn’t know anyone who has ever tried it.

The cocklebur is a plant with spines at its leaf bases.  As far as other properties, it is poisonous to livestock, and animals will avoid it while foraging.  Less picky animals, such as pigs, will commonly eat the plant, get sick, and die.

To make the tea, one just has to mash up cocklebur leaves, add water, and mix the combination.  The plant is sickening, so when it enters the animal’s system, the animal will do what it can to reject the poison. In the process of cleansing the animal’s body, all of the other stomach contents are emptied, curing the livestock’s constipation.  In fact, it gives the animal a case of diarrhea.

The consequences of using the tea may not seem beneficial at first, but without treatment, constipation could be fatal or cause serious health problems for the animals.  This folk remedy and others are commonly shared among farmers to prevent the death of livestock when a specific medicine cannot be procured.  Oftentimes, the wellbeing of a farmer is dependent on the health of his livestock, and this sort of information could really be helpful.

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