By Dianne Weaver

We've often written about West Virginia mountain talk, the way we speak in the hills of West Virginia, often described as hillbilly lingo, but more accurately evidence of more "refined" language from far away lands.

Those of us who sprung from these hollers were introduced to home remedies for the treatment of whatever ailed us, an experience that has been spared by a more recent generation that goes to physician's offices, clinics and emergency rooms.

It's risky to start publishing home remedies in fear that someone will really use them.

While a few might be pretty good, others shouldn't be tried on your worst enemy.

WARNING: This list is for your amusement only, a look back at remedies used by our ancestors. PLEASE DO NOT USE THEM.


Drink a mixture of honey, vinegar, and whiskey or make a tea from either the seeds or leaves of Alfalfa.


Suck salty water up your nose (Ugh!) or smoke or sniff rabbit tobacco. Another, swallow a handful of spider webs rolled into a ball.


Place a spider web across the wound or use a weak solution of cider vinegar applied to cuts and wounds, stopping the bleeding. Apply a poultice of spirit turpentine and brown sugar to the wound or use a mixture of soot from the chimney and lard (others said use pine resin).


Put hot coals on the burned place and pour water over them. The steam will draw the fire out (Huh?) or just put warm powder on the burn, or use the scrapings of a raw potato to "draw the fire." Put axle grease on the burned area, or lard and flour (Huh? again)


Drink whiskey and honey mixed (six times a day and you forget the cold); FORMULA: make a tea from powdered ginger, or ground up ginger root. Do not boil the tea, but add the powdered root to a cup of hot water and drink. Add honey and whiskey, if desired. Another, boil pine needles to make a strong tea or take as much powdered quinine as will stay on the blade of a knife, add to water, and drink. Another, eat onions (better yet lots of raw garlic) or drink tea made from wintergreen fern.


Gather the roots of Mayapple, cut out the joints, dry the middle of the root and place in a cloth and beat to a powder. Add a few drops of Castor oil and roll into pills. They keep very well. You can also put a pinch of the powder in food, or put in some syrup to get a good movement.


Mix one teaspoon of whiskey with a pinch of sugar, heat over a fire, and drink.

Eat a mixture of honey and vinegar.

Put some ground ginger from the store in a saucer and add a little sugar. Put it on the tongue just before bedtime. It burns the throat and most of the time will stop coughs.

Take some rock candy with tea.

Take a teacup of roots and stems of red horse mint, boil in a pint of water for two or three minutes, strain, and drink.

Dissolve four sticks of horehound candy in a pint of whiskey and take a couple of spoonfuls a day.

Drink a pint of whiskey and think about putting four sticks of horehound candy in it.

Boil one cup of wild cherry bark in a pint of water. Add some syrup and cook until it gets thick.


To cure cramps in the feet, turn your shoes upside down before going to bed.


Squeeze the juice out of a roasted onion and drink.

Add a little vinegar, lemon, or onion to honey and eat.

Put a drop of turpentine in a spoonful of sugar and eat.

Drink a thick syrup made of onion juice and honey.

Boil an onion, some turpentine, and some lard together. Pour the juice on a cloth and put it on the chest.

Smear Vicks salve over your chest and neck.

Dip your finger in some Vicks salve and swallow.


Take a tea of red oak bark.

Drink some blackberry juice.


Pour drops of juice from the buddie blooms (Sweet Shrub) into ear.

Dissolve table salt in lukewarm water and pour this into ear. This dissolves the wax which is causing the pain.

Put either wet ashes wrapped in a cloth, or hot ashes in a sack on ear and hold there.

Save the liquid that boils out of the ends of hickory and persimmon wood when burned, and pour this liquid into ear.

Pour Castor oil, or sweet oil into ear.

Break apart a Betty bug at the neck, and squeeze one or two drops of blood into ear.

Put a few ashes in an old rag. Dampen it with hot water and sleep with your head on it.


Snakeroot tea will bring it down.

Boil two roots of wild ginger in a cup of water, strain, and drink.

Boil a cup of Pennyroyal leaves in a pint of water and drink.


Gather some Boneset, put the leaves in a sack, and put it in the sun to dry. Make sure it has air or it will mold. Then cook the leaves in some water, strain, and drink.

Chew rabbit tobacco.


Take a spoonful of pure corn whiskey and Black Draught.

Roll your tummy over a round hassock to relieve attack.


Bind wilted beet leaves on the forehead.

Tie a flour sack around your head.

Put several ginseng roots in a piece of brown paper and tie to your head.

Put turpentine and beef tallow in a bandage and tie it tightly around your head.

Smear brow with crushed onions.

Rub camphor and whiskey on head.


Take a teaspoon of peanut butter. (this always works for me).

Put half a teacup of dried apples in a teacup of water in a pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Strain out the remains of the apples, and drink the juice while hot.


Roast some poke roots by the fire. Scrape them clean with a knife and grind up. Make a poultice out of the powder and apply to the bottom of the foot. It will draw pain out of anywhere in the body.


Put drops of vanilla straight from the bottle on the tooth.

Use burned alum.

Hold whiskey or turpentine on the tooth.

Put a few ashes in an old rag and dampen it with hot water. Sleep with your head on it. (Apparently, sleeping with wet ashes on your head was considered somewhat of a cure-all.)