USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘homeopathic medicine’
Folk medicine

Spoonful of Honey Folk Medicine

The informant is marked EL. I am marked CS. She shared with me a few forms of folk medicine practices she has learned over the years over coffee.

 

EL: “Yeah, so…my mom is super into homeopathic remedies and there’s a couple of weird ones that like, supposedly relieve colds.”

CS: “Great, can you tell me a few?”

EL: “So the first one I’m always told is to always take a spoonful of honey in the winter time. I get really bad allergies, and I guess the spoonful of local honey allegedly has some of the pollen we breathe in during allergy season. So, when you take a spoonful of it, it kind of counteracts the allergies, like another method to getting an allergy shot. Not sure if it works, but I do it so often, I’m not sure if I’d even notice the difference. Can’t hurt though, right?”

CS: “Absolutely. How long have you been doing it for?”

EL: “God, it’s been forever. Probably since, like, elementary school I wanna say?”

CS: Is your entire family into homeopathic and folk remedies?”

EL: “Oh yeah, my grandmother is also super into it. She’s the one who hooked my mom. I swear it’s like a never ending tradition in our family.”

 

Context:

We met for coffee to record her different encounters with folk medicine and remedies.

Background:

EL is a first year student at The University of Southern California. She was raised in Dallas, Texas.

Analysis:

I found this remedy to be quite interesting because I had never heard of it, and my mom is also interested in many homeopathic remedies and folk medicine so I know quite a few. This one is also a remedy I could use myself, and I think is a remedy that many people could try without any potential harm. It seems to be one of those “it doesn’t hurt to try” forms of medicine.

Folk medicine
Homeopathic

Wet Socks Fever Remedy

The informant is marked EL. I am CS. She shared with me a few forms of folk medicine practices she has learned over the years.

 

CS: “So are there any other remedies or folk medicine you can tell me about?”

EL: “Hmm yeah let me think. Oh! Ok…there is another super weird one, but I actually kind of think it works.”

CS: “Perfect, can you describe it for me?”

EL: “Yeah so it’s a remedy for when you have a fever. You basically take a pair of socks and put them under cold water, and put your feet in hot water. Then, when you go to bed, you put the wet socks on your feet and I guess it like increases circulation and blood flow? Sounds kind of weird, but the next day it supposedly relieves like congestion and your fever.”

CS: “And you’ve done this before?”

EL: “Yeah my mom always made me do it when I was younger. I got fevers all of the time.”

CS: “Did you notice any results from it?”

EL: “Honestly, yeah. I always felt better the next day. Weird how those things can sometimes really work.”

 

Context:

Met for coffee to record her different encounters with folk medicine and remedies.

Background:

EL is a first year student at The University of Southern California. She was raised in Dallas, Texas.

 

Analysis:

I find this remedy interesting because I have never heard of it before, and the method seems bizarre, yet I understand the purpose behind it. I personally remember whenever I was sick with a fever doctors would tell me to cool myself off instead of warm myself up. I never used to understand the logic because I believed if I was struck with a fever and my body wanted heat, then it makes sense to give it heat. However, warming yourself up does prolong a fever’s duration, and essentially is just another catalyst to making you sicker. So off of this medical point, this method does seem to be logical and probably soothing. Compared to many over the counter drugs and doctor’s diagnoses, I enjoy learning of other methods that could similarly take care of the problem without all of the extra legwork.

 

Folk medicine
Homeopathic

Onion Sleep Remedy

The informant is marked EL. I am CS. She shared with me a few forms of folk medicine she has learned over the years.

 

EL: “There’s this other remedy too I always used to tell my friends about. Obviously in like high school everyone always has a hard time falling asleep, so my mom always made me put onions in a jar to help aid sleep deprivation.”

CS: “Interesting, where did you put the onions?”

EL: “We’d cut them up and put them in a jar and leave the jar on the nightstand. If you still can’t sleep in the middle of the night you are supposed to open the jar and breathe in the scent of the onions. Not exactly sure what it really does it help you sleep, but I guess it doesn’t hurt to try, right?”

CS: “Right. How long have you been doing it for?”

EL: “Probably from like late elementary school to high school. Obviously I’m too lazy to do it every time I have a hard time sleeping. That’d just be a waste. But here and again I do it and I still am not sure if it really works.”

 

Context:

Met for coffee to record her different encounters with folk medicine and remedies.

 

Background:

EL is a first year student at The University of Southern California. She was raised in Dallas, Texas.

 

Analysis:

This remedy was fascinating to me because I can’t possibly understand how it works, but it makes me even more curious to try it. It seems to be such a bizarre form of folk medicine that I can’t help but wonder its origins and subsequently if there are other variations to this so-called “sleep aid.” It would be interesting to see this remedy’s specific origin and if it is linked at all to heritage or particular cultures.

Folk medicine
Homeopathic

Peppermint Oil Remedy

The informant is marked EL. I am CS. She shared with me a few forms of folk medicine practices she has learned over the years.

 

CS: “Any other folk medicine you can think of?”

EL: “Yeah we also did this one that helps with anxiety. I think it is Peppermint essential oil that does the trick.”

CS: “How long have you been doing it for?”

ET: “Whenever I’m stressed my mom makes me do it, so yeah…it’s been a while.”

CS: “Does your entire family follow this folk remedy?”

ET: “Definitely, we all do this one. It’s nice to do before like a test or something to detox after. It helps kinda clear and cleanse your mind.”

 

Context:

Met for coffee to record her different encounters with folk medicine and remedies.

Background:

ET is a first year student at The University of Southern California. She was raised in Dallas, Texas.

 

Analysis:

I thought this remedy was not only interesting but something I personally would love to try. There is nothing too odd about it, and it seems very likely to work. It would be interesting to research and try to discover other similar essential oils and if they have different effects than peppermint.

 

 

Folk Beliefs
Folk medicine

The Magic Potion

”The ingredients are: apple cider vinegar, lemon, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, honey, and hot water. About a class worth for whoever is taking it. You can use it for pretty much anything. Whenever I’m feeling sick I’ll use it; all the ingredients have really good properties, so one of them is bound to help with something. I always use it when I have the flu.”

“My mom would always tell me to drink apple cider vinegar with honey and hot water, for pretty much anything that was wrong with you. I never really liked it like that. One of my friends gave me this recipe. You’d think the extra ingredients would make it taste worse, but they actually make it a lot easier to drink.”

Home remedies are often a popular way of dealing with everyday maladies, especially those which science currently has no “cure” or treatment for. The informant stated that she uses the remedy for a wide variety of ills, with the expectation that one of the ingredients is bound to help somehow. She had originally gotten a variety of the “potion” from her mother; which is common with home remedies. As parents are often a primary source of information while growing up, people have a tendency to retain lessons or advice from them, even as they grow older.

The informant stated that she never enjoyed the taste of her Mom’s remedy, though she would still use it if she got sick. Eventually she heard of the alternate form from a friend; she stated that she liked the flavor of the new formula more, and now uses that as an alternate. This shows an interesting fluctuation in the phenomenon stated above. Though she respected and followed her Mom’s advice for the remedy, she was also willing to change the recipe slightly into one which suited her tastes better. This illustrates how folk remedies can change over time: ingredients can be added (or removed in some cases) in order to better fit the sensibilities or tastes of the new user.

Customs
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Peruvian Ceremony

The informant is a 21 year old girl raised in Lima, Peru. She moved to the states 3 years ago for college. Her first language was Spanish, and she learned English in the classroom. She never spoke it outside the classroom before coming to America.  She had a more stories about Peruvian culture than I realized was possible. This specific

Informant: Peru is very diverse. It has 3 different regions. It has the highland, the coast and the jungle. It is also very diverse in terms of its different economic statuses. There is a big difference between the very very poor and the very very wealthy, which is unique… not only to Peru… but to a lot of South American countries. There is a lot of tradition.

Me: Can you pick one thing to go in-depth into?

Informant: In the jungle, particually, there is a lot of tradition in using homeopathic medicine. It is like medicine from natural resources. Back in the day, when the Inca empire existed, the Incas gave a lot of value to the sun as their god. And also the motherland as their god. So there are still these traditions going on even now, in smaller, of course, less urban areas. For example, in the jungle we have what are called shamans. We also have them in the highlands, but they are really common in the jungle. They are basically… natural doctors… that heal. But they also do a very ceremonialhealing process in which they sing a song in their native dialect. Theydress up in very traditional clothing and also use natural plants for the healing process. So everything is completely natural. Everything is based on plants and different scents that they use to heal you. There is also this tradition, that I have actually done, in which people believe in plants having a supernatural power in which they can read your future. So when I went to Couzco, I went to this small little town in which there was a woman who claimed she could read the future through Coca leaves. She would literally throw them around sing in Quechua which is the natural dialect of the Incas. And would read your future.

Me: Was she right?

Informant: Yeah, she said that a big change was coming. And it was going to change me a lot and for the better and that I was not going to want to come back. I was going to leave to a place and not come back. And I was going to be really happy and find my passion. I never mentioned that I was moving to a new country. She said it all herself. The whole ceremony occurred in this small room. She had little stands and images of the virgin Mary, as well as a lot of coca leaves and a lot of traditional plants from the highlands. Everything was in Quechua. But she told me my future in Spanish because I don’t know Quechua. It was a very traditional.

Me: So you do believe that this all works?

Informant: I mean, I do believe that it may have some supernatural power. Coca leaves, especially in the highlands, coca leaves are just the most valuable thing in the world. Back in the day, when the Incas had to work in the highlands, they would eat coca leaves because they have high caloric power and would give them energy. It is also really good in tea. It helps with altitude sickness too. Everything in Peru, coca leaves.

At this point the informant began talking about a different ceremony using coca leaves.

My analysis: I found the informant’s account of these events as fascinating.  The way she was so passionate about all the different Peruvian cultures and traditions and could not seem to say enough about any of them was a different experience compared to some of the other people I spoke to. I am personally not sold on the supposedly psychic woman.  I felt as though her predications were similar to horoscopes in that they were overgeneralized. It would be impossible not to find something relatable in that description.  That being said though, 3 years later and the informant is still looking back on what the psychic told her and comparing how similar her life is to the prediction. There is clearly still a huge respect for and abidance by tradition and ritual in Peru.  I gather this is because of its rich history.  The connection to the land definitely comes from previous cultures, as well as the dependance that the people have on the land. When something plays such a large role in so many people’s lives, it is not surprising that it becomes sacred and revered.

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