Folk Medicine – Norway

“If you have a cold what you should do is take a sock, I think a wool one, and wrap it around your throat before you go to bed.  Also, rubbing oil on your neck helps as well.”

Sigurd said that his mother used to do this to him when he was sick, had a sore, throat, or had been coughing a lot.  Sigurd grew up in Norway his entire life and his primary language is Norwegian, yet he speaks English very well also.  He told me that his mother sometimes would rub lotion on his neck as well, which was supposed to help clear out his throat.  He said that the lotion smelled very strong sometimes and that it would help clear his sinuses too.  I was able to find similar versions to this remedy in Folk Medicine in Norway and the New Land by Kathleen Stokker.  There are two versions in the book that involve wrapping a woolen sock around a person’s neck when they are feeling sick.  One indicates that camphor oil should be rubbed upon the person’s throat, so I believe that the lotion that Sigurd was speaking of was most likely camphor oil.  The other version says that, ”You should wrap a black wool sock around your throat before you go to bed.  A warm one from your foot works best.”

Sigurd told me that he did not know where his mother learned the remedy, but he assumed that someone from her family had done it to her when she was young.  Sigurd also mentioned that because there are a lot of sheep in Norway, there is a bountiful amount of wool, which is probably why a woolen sock is recommended to wrap around the throat.  The camphor oil likely clears out the nasal passages and throat and the warmth of the sock may make it easier for the blood to flow freely to the throat area and help aid the recovery of the ill person.  I believe that this folk remedy is probably very old tradition in Norway, and due to the fact that Sigurd’s mom had used it in him, the remedy must have a positive effect on the person that is sick.