Folk Remedy – Sweden

“Whenever your cousins in Sweden get ear aches, they dice onions into small pieces, put pieces into a paper towel, and hold the towel against their ears until the pain goes away.”

My grandmother told me that when she first visited Sweden with my grandfather over fifteen years ago, she was very shocked to see onions used as a treatment for earaches.  She said that she thought it was incredibly strange, but she noticed that the people stopped complaining of ear pains after putting the onions against their ears.    She said that she asked my relatives why they used onions and they said that the juices from the onions helped sooth earache pains.  They said this remedy was common knowledge and the practice had been around for many years.  Even though my grandma learned about this remedy, though, she did not use onions when she would get earaches.  She said she would feel too silly to use the onions, and would rather take a pain reliever instead.

It seems like the popularity of medicinal folklore depends on the culture and context in which it is used.  In Sweden, the onion remedy is normal and socially accepted, but in America, people like my grandmother would consider onions a food, not a medical tool, and would feel uncomfortable using it to relieve ear aching.  Since my grandmother was raised in a society that believed in the power of Western medicine, she does not consider folk medicine to be a legitimate way to cure illnesses.

The last time my Swedish relatives came to visit, my little cousin had an earache that my aunt treated by using the onion remedy.  I thought it was strange, but I was fascinated by this form of remedy and wanted to try it on myself.  Unfortunately, I still have not had an earache and have been unable to test its legitimacy.  Even so, I feel that it is important to try natural remedies for illnesses before resorting to ingesting chemicals or other unnatural products.  Many cultures use folk medicine and I think that despite the advances made by science, modern society should not ignore what folk medicine has to offer.