Posted in Remedies

Another gory story

Saving a thumb … literally.

Once upon a time there was a student who had some pretty screwed roomies, one night roomy came home having lost parts of the thumb in a cab-door, or so was the assumption as memory had gone down the drain of alcohol and other intoxicating substances. Not being the cleanest piggy in the sty, the following morning a nasty inflammation had started to attack the limb, the flesh started getting the colour dead and dying flesh takes on. A fear supported by biology expert roomy. The thumb was hot, swollen, inflamed, missing parts and on top of all bruised heavily. As roomy vehemently refused to go to a doctor, the rather stern farm approach to avoid blood poisoning and start the healing had to be suffered.

After somewhat provisionally cleaning the wound with hand warm water, student sacrificed some of her best (and highest proof) whiskey stuffed the battered thumb into it – and to be honest watched somewhat smugly the poor roomy squirm as the strong liqueur did its job. Student then applied a mixture of Manuka honey and highly concentrated chamomile tincture, put a thin cotton gauze bandage around. After half a day carefully washed the lotion off and repeated the procedure, leaving it over night. The next morning after washing off the lotion the wound looked already much better, although still inflamed. Another day of treatment, see before, with intermittent letting air on the wound (Opa was a strong believer of letting wounds breathe) the flesh had turned a healthy pinkish colour.

Eventually on day three roomy decided to go to the doctor, who told him that the thumb look really good and there is nothing he could do.

Posted in Remedies

A Gory Story

Common Horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

In the student dorm I was about to pack my stuff and head home for the weekend, when my granddad (Opa) called me. He told me he would need my help, two weeks ago a sort of gadfly had stung him and the puncture inflamed badly. A hand-sized patch of skin was swollen, red and hot, whilst a massive suppurative focus had developed around the puncture. He was in pain, and – here it comes – he voluntarily went to the doctor the week before, who prescribed him some antibiotic powder.

So the antibiotic powder had not helped at all, subsequently Opa was at his wits end, not wanting to go back to the doctor again – you know once every ten years is enough et cetera.

Normally I go for chamomile and honey maybe some whiskey for skin inflammations, but somehow as soon as my granddad had told me about his issue, the picture of horsetail popped into my mind and did not let go. On arrival at the farm, I scanned through my herbal books, yet still could not find any other application for common horsetail, than cleansing of kidneys and so forth.

Well, by now I was used to listen to the ‘visions’ and decided to raid my herb larder for horsetail and give it a go anyway. When using herbs for an infusion that are wooden you need to let them simmer for about 5 minutes to break them open. So I made an infusion let it cool down a little, then still warm put it as a compress on the inflamed leg.

Opa told me that within half an hour the pressure from the wound had ceased. He renewed the compress several times throughout the night. At some point during this night, the wound opened and the pus came out. When he showed me the leg the following morning, the swelling was reduced significantly as well as the inflammation. The thing healed completely within the next five days.

I later found another herbal book that stated the use of common horsetail for wounds and acroedema – time to get new books!!

Although I never found sources stating that marsh horsetail (Equisetum palustre) is poisonous for any other than live stock, the rule of thumb from my great granddad – who was a homeopath and passed that on to my granny, who passed that on to my mom and both passed that on to me – was not to use any other than the common horsetail for infusions, because (so goes my family lore) the marsh horsetail is poisonous.

Measurements: I never measure weight or volume when preparing remedies. This has several reasons. Depending on the weather of the year, or the time of harvest the herbs have different strengths, so sometimes I need more, sometimes less. It also always depends on the suffering family member – if they have a strong constitution or are weakened by stress,  the dosage has to be adapted. Opa for instance had a constitution like a Clydesdale – so with him I could go for one off strong dosages, whilst other family members need long term smaller doses.

Warmth and Inflammation: normally don’t go together, as a warm and moist environment is a happy living place for germs. However, warmth opens pores of the skin, so family lore goes if you want to draw something out the initial bandage has to be warm. It however cooled down during the application, any further fresh bandages were room temperature.

Posted in Facemasks, Remedies

The Versatility of Quark (01)

If quark would rhyme with anything more interesting than squawk I would probably write an Ode to Quark. While not all poems should rhyme, an Ode is the exemption … och well, I might try it at some point. Here we go:

Granny used quark as remedy, cosmetic product and well food. I think I start with one of the remedial uses of this.

As children we always had scratched knees covered with scab and puss. Mostly we were too busy running around to clean the scratches properly, only if caught, granddad would insist on rinsing the bleeding knee under the garden hose. We tried to avoid this because picking out little stones and ‘what nots’ from a wound really hurts.

So if the infection got too bad and stuck underneath the scab. Granny would slab a good helping of quark onto it. Whilst drying, the quark pulled out the inflammation and puss. Rinse CAREFULLY with warm water and repeat as necessary. This works with most skin blemishes and inflammations as well as pimples. Just ensure you rinse and clean the skin thoroughly after the treatment.

Quark Face Mask

For stressed skin, red and inflamed skin, pimples & blackheads

makes about 2-3 applications

about 100 gr quark

1 teaspoon honey

mix until creamy

apply a thick layer and leave on your skin for about 15-20 min

If you want to draw out black heads and pimples leave on until the quark is dry

rinse with warm water

Posted in Remedies

Sore Throat, Losing Voice

you only need a glass of warm water

and a teaspoon of real honey (mind you the processed sugar water that sometimes is sold as honey won’t do the trick)

the water should not be warmer than 60°C else the enzymes and vitamins that are health beneficial will be destroyed

dissolve the honey in the water and store the water on a warm place (e.g. radiator) keep drinking small sips throughout the day

TIP: honey should not be stored in a fridge else it can turn sour (go bad)

Posted in Remedies


When autumn began, so did the season of sore throats and sniffles.  Thus, I shall start this Blog with some family remedies. Today I start with a small but effective compress.

Sore Throat & Swollen Glances

You need:

1 wash cloth (or a small cotton or linen scarf)

1 small towel

1 wool scarf

Take the wash cloth and rinse it thoroughly with cold water. Wring it semi-dry and apply around the neck. Then put the towel and the wool scarf over it. Leave around the neck for a couple of hours and repeat several times. It creates a sauna effect around your neck.

The cold water cloth is really uncomfortable and feels counter-intuitive but as soon as the wool scarf is over it, it becomes comfortable.

A not proven remedy: put an old dirty wool sock around your neck and then a scarf over it apparently works wonders against a sore throat. … I have to say though, my granddad had always a mischievous twinkle in his eyes when he, straight-faced as a billboard, recommended this particular treatment.

Now there is a coincidence I just started reading The Red Church or The Art of Pennsylvania German Braucherei by C.R.Bilardi (2009, Pendraig Publishing, L.A.) and found out that a herb called asafetida was used against colds and sore throats. To treat sore throat it was placed in a woolen sock and then applied around the neck. Over time, so Bilardi, the usage of the herb slipped out of the lore and left was the sock.

For more information about this plant check out Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages.