Earache Remedy

Interviewer: Did you learn any helpful remedies that you passed on or that you used yourself?


Informant: For the babies with the ear infection, what they used to do is they would make a cone of the newspaper, a big cone, and then they put the point of the cone in the baby’s ear and they light the outer rim so it would slowly burn and send smoke up into the ear.  And supposedly the baby would get better and the infection would go away.


Interviewer: So there was just a clear pathway for the smoke to go into the ear?


Informant: Well they would put a cotton ball with Castor oil in the baby’s ear and then the heat and the smoke would heat up the cotton ball but not too close.  And then the baby would sleep with the cotton ball in the ear and stay with it for a little bit and eventually get better.


Interviewer: Have you used any variation of that on your kids or grandkids?


Informant: Well, you used to get bad infections so your dad lite a special candle and they used a funnel to point the smoke towards the ear.  You were little so we didn’t want to give you harsh medicines right away if we knew another way that could also work.  Later on you grew out of your ear infections so if you got them when you were older it was usually from a bad infection that needed stringer medicine.


Interviewer: That’s actually a really interesting point. Thank you!


Background: Alicia Juarez is the grandmother of the collector and grew up in Mexico City for a time and then outside the city on a small ranch with her father and step family.  She immigrated to the United Stated once she was older and has lived here ever since.  Some of the more useful remedies she still uses today, but also uses remedies in tandem with more westernized medicine.

Context: Interview took place during a weekend at home with family.  Alicia Juarez speaks both Spanish and English and choose to speak in English for the purposes of direct translation.  The context of these examples of folk medicine was the fact that whole communities has no easy access to westernized medicine and doctors and had to develop different ways of healing everyday ailments.

Analysis: This was an interesting remedy to look at because a version of it was used on me. And it was interesting to see the variation of the remedy being passed down from my grandmother and then adopted and changed slightly by my parents.  The process of folklore at work.  It was also interesting because I remember having terrible ear aches and my parents trying different things but it was helpful to know the meaning behind what they were doing and the tradition it developed from.