On the lookout for Great Depression Era home remedies? Looking back at history, there’s a lot that we could learn, especially from the individuals that lived during the Great Depression. When there weren’t enough doctors to go around, families had to figure out how to treat and cure certain sicknesses on their own. And although some of the remedies that they used may sound absolutely ridiculous to us today, they actually worked!
Maybe you’ve had the privilege of your mother or grandmother passing some of them down to you? But even if they didn’t take the time, I’ve got you covered. These are Great Depression-era home remedies that your grandparents and great-grandparents used to fight common ailments during some pretty dark times.
Processed Foods Weren’t Common for the Great Depression Era
What we eat has a lot to do with how healthy our bodies are and how well they function. One of the biggest differences between the Great Depression era and now is that there weren’t as many processed foods back in the 30s and 40s as there are today. For the most part, people back then stuck to more of a “whole foods diet”, such as whole grains, poultry, meat, vegetables, and healthy fats.
This meant that they had more energy, looked healthier, and didn’t struggle with food-related diseases like we do today. And what I find absolutely surprising, is that life expectancy also increased significantly during this time.
Great Depression Home Remedies
You’d be absolutely amazed at how much your grandparents and great-grandparents knew about home remedies and how to use them. Let’s take a look at what some of them are. I’m sure a few of them you’ll recognize.
Chicken Noodle Soup
When you were a kid, you probably remember your mom placing a bowl of hot chicken noodle soup (or just chicken brother) in front of you when you weren’t feeling the best. You may have thought that eating a bowl of soup to feel better sounded silly at the time, but as it turns out, there’s some truth to it. Chicken noodle soup has been scientifically proven to work as a remedy to help cure colds and other sicknesses. Your mother knew what she was doing after all.
A Simmering Pot of Water
Doctors were a lot harder to come by during the Great Depression so moms and dads had to make do with the remedies they already knew. And, sticking your head over a simmering pot of water to breathe in the steam was one of them. This would help open up sinuses while clearing congestion when they were having difficulty breathing. Today, steam baths can also help loosen up stiff joints and muscles, reduce stress, as well as lower blood pressure.
Back in the day, mustard plaster was another popular remedy for sore muscles, chest congestion, runny noses, and colds. And it actually worked too! But if you do decide to give mustard plaster a try, be cautious. Those that are allergic to it will suffer from side effects that are equally as uncomfortable as the original ailment.
The people that lived through the Great Depression knew a lot about medicinal herbs and their many purposes. They also took the time to teach their children how to forage for these medicinal and edible plants. This was an excellent way to create a bond with nature while providing the family with free and healthy remedies.
Some of the most popular medicinal herbs used during the Great Depression include:
- Chamomile – Used to relieve stomach pain, diarrhea, gas, and bloating. It can also be brewed as a tea to help with insomnia and anxiety.
- Ginger – A key ingredient in many home remedies, ginger can be used to relieve nausea, stomach pain, and inflammation. It’s also great for boosting immunity.
- Peppermint – Used to treat colds, headaches, indigestion, and cramps. It can also be helpful in relieving stress and tension.
- Eucalyptus – Used to relieve colds, congestion, and sinus infections.
- Lavender – Often used as a natural sedative, lavender can help with anxiety, insomnia, and depression. It can also be used topically to treat burns and wounds.
- Licorice Root – Used to treat stomach ulcers, indigestion, and bronchitis. It’s also a great immune booster.
- Rosemary – Used to improve circulation, relieve muscle pain, and boost mental clarity.
- Sage – Used as a gargle for sore throats and canker sores. It can also be used to treat diarrhea.
- Thyme – Used to relieve coughs, chest congestion, and respiratory infections.
There are many other herbs that were popular during the Great Depression, but these are just a few of the most commonly used.
More Home Remedies
Are you still wanting to find out more about common home remedies that people used during the Great Depression? I’ve got plenty more! You may even find yourself still practicing one or two of these. Here’s what I found.
- Baking soda and water paste to relieve pain from bee stings
- Eating prunes and dried fruit when you’re constipated
- Gargle warm salt water for a sore throat
- Whiskey and honey for congestion (check out my Hot Toddy Recipe)
- Take witch hazel for hemorrhoids
- Ginger tea to relieve nausea
- Castor oil for an upset stomach
- Lemon and honey water for a cough
- Gargle with warm water and vinegar to get rid of a mouth sore
- Make a poultice out of flour and water to draw out the infection
- Wrap a cloth around your head soaked in vinegar to relieve a headache
- Sip on hot water with lemon to soothe a sore throat
- Calamine lotion for poison ivy, bites, and skin irritation
As you can see, people during the Great Depression knew a thing or two about home remedies. And while some of them may sound a bit strange to us today, they actually worked. So, next time you’re feeling under the weather, why not give one of these old-fashioned remedies a try? You just might be surprised at how well they work.
What Great Depression Era home remedies are your favorite?