During the summer I was a judge at Temple Math Science Upward bound science symposium. One student named Summer had an excellent research project studying remedies for the common cold. What she found was that natural products such as honey and lemon had the same effect as using cough syrup, natural products have less side effects and cost much less. So I wanted to find out more about other natural products that can remedy some illnesses, but my research came to a holt as the memory of my childhood resurfaced. When I was maybe three or four years old I can remember the strong smell of onions in my brother’s room and him chasing me around with the onions in his socks. And another memory which even now is hard to bear, the big brown castor oil bottle in the refrigerator. My mom would chase me around with a spoonful of this pure disgusting liquid and make me drink it. So why did my mom make me and my siblings suffer with her homemade concoctions and did they really help?
Research by Lynn C Smitherman found that one tenant of the health belief system of African-Americans is that illness is caused by “impurities” in the body and these impurities must be purged through the urine, the stool, or the skin. This belief lead to folk remedies for health care, such as the use of castor oil, onions in the sock, wrapping up in a blanket to sweat out a fever, drinking garlic juice (another one of moms home remedies) to stay strong etc.
But do these remedies really work?
I found that onions are rich in sulfur which makes it a strong antiseptic and antibiotic. Current research shows that onions taken internally or externally lowers fever, cures coughs and colds.
In vitro studies (outside the cell) of garlic has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal activity. However, these actions are less clear in vivo (inside the cell) but it has been proven to reduce cardiovascular disease. Garlic is a vasodilator that reduces aortic plaque deposits that causes heart attacks.
Castor Oil is a vegetable oil obtained from the castor bean, it is known as a GRASE “generally recognized as safe and effective” laxative. It’s major site of action is in the small intestine causing an explosive diarrhea. This will definitely purge you of any impurities.
Overall, these folk remedies have been passed down from generation to generation and the use of these natural products can only prevent and treat ailments. They also have less side effects than OTC medications and cost less money, so go to your kitchen cabinet instead of your local drug store or better yet go to my mom’s house where a pot of garlic is always brewing.