19 Traditional Medicines & Old Home Remedies From Times Gone By

by Lizzy

Today is all about old home remedies used in the past for illnesses, discomfort, hygiene, and the maintenance or improvement of health in times gone by. Old home remedies can still work today, and many people will turn to them as a first course of action. Read on to find out what might work for you.

Using steam for health

1. Steam

The healing power of steam inhalation for treating colds has been recognized for the last 300 years. Inhalation treatments have a soothing effect on sensitive mucous membranes, which become inflamed and heavily swollen when you have a cold.

Steam moistens the respiratory tract helping reduce swelling and making breathing easier. 

Inhaling to unblock a nose

2. Inhale, hold, exhale

Another way to help unblock a nose is to stand up, hold your breath for 15 seconds, walk around while counting to 15 in your head, then sit down and exhale. With this short 15-second inhalation, hold, and exhale, the respiratory system opens up the tubes.

This can help you breathe through the nose better. This is effective, especially if you're trying to sleep and it's challenging because you've got a blocked-up nose. 

Hot lemon drink

3. Lemon

Lemon is a popular alternative remedy to help soothe a sore throat and boost your vitamin C. Take hot water with a squeeze of lemon, add some dried thyme, brew it for a couple of minutes, and then sip. It is very soothing for relieving coughs and helps make breathing easier.

There is also the hot lemon drink which is lemon, hot water, and a teaspoon of honey to help soothe sore throats. 

Rose hip plant

4. Rose hip

An excellent tea for colds is rose hip tea. These are from dog roses or the English Rose. Rose hip contains 20 times more vitamin C than an orange. Make rose hip tea by boiling rose hips for 10 minutes, draining, then sipping the tea.

Add water, lemon juice, and honey, and you've got a vitamin C-packed drink perfect for fighting colds and soothing throats.

Avoiding dairy

5. Avoiding dairy

Another one of the old home remedies from the 1940s was not to have milk when you have a cold. Dairy has been proven to promote phlegm production, which can add to congestion. If you have a cold or flu, stopping dairy may help.

Medicinal herbs

6. Herbs

Nature provides many herbs for common coughs and colds. This includes camomile, lavender, and mint. They are all perfect to use as hot tea.

Cabbage leaves

7. Cabbage leaves

Nursing mothers can use green cabbage leaves from the fridge to relieve sore breasts. Put a few leaves inside each cup of your bra. Cabbage seems to draw away inflammation and make the breasts feel better.

Another old home remedy for using cabbage is cutting thick stems of cabbage leaves, then using a rolling pin to bruise them, and then steeping the leaves in hot water for three minutes to soften.

Having anti-inflammatory properties, they can help soothe a toothache. Very carefully press them against the swollen gum line or a tooth that that's painful. It won't heal the tooth, and the likelihood is that you will need a dentist at some point very soon, but they can soothe your mouth in the interim, which is what you want.

Clove oil

8. Clove oil

For teeth, if there's a cavity or very sore gum in adults, clove oil is powerful stuff. It tastes very spicy but gets rid of the pain for half an hour at a time.

Flowers used in tea

9. Teas

Tea good for circulation is Hawthorne flowers, dried lemon, and hot water brewed together. Brewed as a tea and sipped for relaxation are plain chamomile flowers steeped in hot water. Sift out the flowers after brewing and then sip.

Using rosemary as a home remedy

10. Rosemary 

Rosemary is a wonderful herb. Not only is it a powerful antiseptic, but it's also perfect for stimulating circulation. You can use it in products for beauty, such as shampoo. 

Hot water bottle

11. Hot water bottle

In times gone by, they would use a warming pan, heated bricks, or a copper hot water bottle. They were traditionally used to alleviate painful torn ligaments or damaged tendons, stomachaches, earaches, and backaches.

Using daisies as a home remedy

12. Daisies

The flowers and leaves of the daisy have been used since the Middle Ages to alleviate numerous ailments, including gout and arthritis. Two teaspoons of dried daisy flowers and leaves steeped in hot water with half a teaspoon of honey and then sipped can help you.

Lavender has traditional medicinal properties

13. Lavender 

Not only does it smell beautiful, but you can make a lavender oil to soften the skin, or lavender seeds can be used dried and popped in little pillows and packets to make clothes smell nice in wardrobes. The scent can also deter moths attracted to natural fabrics and linens.

Senna pods and senna tea

14. Senna pods

The consumption of senna pods, usually made into tea, was very popular as an old home remedy. It is a very effective plant laxative. The tea is quite strong and shouldn't be used more than once a week.

Dried prunes

15. Dried figs and prunes 

These were also popular for their effective laxative properties without any harshness. 

Rosemary leaves in hot water

16. Menopause remedies

Historically, when treating things like menopause, natural treatments, and remedies were used. This included raspberry tea that alleviates a range of complaints. Dried rosemary leaves steeped in hot water were used to combat hot flashes.  

Thyme bath

17. Thyme

Putting thyme into a hot bath can help ease menstrual cramps. Using four tablespoons of dried thyme, leave them in your bath for 10 minutes before you step in and let their soothing powers work.

Oatmeal is good for the skin

18. Oatmeal

Oatmeal baths were very common, where the bath water was run through oatmeal. This helps with itching and skin irritation. Even today, some name-brand companies make moisturizers and cleansers with oatmeal as a base due to its emollient properties.

Old home remedies

19. Onion

A slice of raw onion could be used for many things. Place on a pimple to act as an astringent. Chop up an onion and put it into a small muslin bag, then hold it over the ear if you have an earache.

Old home remedies

In times gone by, they didn't have access to the medicines that we have now. Some of the above are still great alternative medicines, and many ingredients are free. Do you have any alternative remedies that you use? Share your old home remedies in the comments below.

Join the conversation
  • Sandy Sandy on Jun 28, 2023

    I found that grating a few Tbsp of ginger into hot water makes a healing tea for menstrual cramps. It works so well, I only wish I'd discovered it as a teenager, instead of my late forties. Hope this helps you!

  • Carol de la Fuente Carol de la Fuente on Jun 29, 2023

    Using warm salt water as a rinse and gargle for your mouth and teeth will help gum issues as I have found that it helps to heal my gums. My mother used this when we were children.