Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
February 29, 2024 ·  5 min read

10 Bizarre Home Remedies Our Grandparents Used That Actually Work!

In today’s world, we tend to rely heavily on modern medicines and prescriptions for every ailment. However, our grandmothers have passed down to us a treasure trove of folk remedies that were used for centuries. Although some of these remedies were considered a bit bizarre, they were trusted by our ancestors and had proven track records of success. Surprisingly, many of these crazy cure-alls prescribed by our grandparents have some scientific backing. Check out these ten bizarre home remedies that our grandparents used that actually work.

10 Bizarre Home Remedies Used By Our Grandparents

That’s right: That weird trick your grandma had for helping you feel better when you were sick isn’t actually as crazy as it sounds. In fact, there is actually some scientific evidence to back up many of the strange home remedies our grandparents used to bestow on us when we were sick or hurt. These are some of the strangest home remedies from our grandparents that actually work.

1. Rice Sock for Ear Infections

In South Africa, grandparents would fill a sock with uncooked, dry rice warmed up on the stove. This sock was then placed on an infected ear for about 20 minutes. The heat from the rice acted as a natural heating pad, and the procedure always worked. It is important to note that this is not a cure for ear infections, but rather to help with pain relief. You should still see your doctor actually to get rid of the infection. (1)

2. Cold Water and Vinegar for Fever

In Romania, grandmothers used a sheet soaked in a mixture of vinegar and water to reduce a fever. They wrapped the baby’s body in the soaked sheet and left the head outside to help lower the body temperature. You can make vinegar and cold water compress to help lower a fever quickly. It is still important to see your doctor, however, especially if your fever is quite severe. (2)

3. Lettuce Tea for Sleep

Puerto Rican grandmothers boiled lettuce leaves in water, added a bit of sugar, and then let the mixture cool before giving it to the child to drink before bed. This remedy had a tiny bit of scientific basis, as lettuce contains a natural chemical compound called lactucarium, which is believed to induce sleep. Depending on how severe your insomnia is, this may or may not help you. (3)

4. Onion and Garlic Cough Syrup

Dominican Republic’s grandmothers would boil a blend of onion, garlic, and honey that served as a cough suppressant, throat soother, and decongestant. Honey, especially, has a property to coat the throat and is proven to be a helpful cough suppressant for children over one year old. While this trick hasn’t been studied much, anecdotal evidence shows that it does help. From what we know of the antibacterial properties of onion, garlic, and honey, this is not surprising. (4)

5. Parsley and Olive Oil for Constipation

In Southern Italy, grandmothers advised their daughters and granddaughters to soak a parsley stem in olive oil until soft. Then, they inserted it into the baby’s bum and turned it clockwise and counterclockwise for a couple of seconds. This remedy could promote bowel movements in children. (5)

Read More: 10 home remedies to help with bronchitis and painful coughing attacks

6. Cotton Ball with Olive Oil for Mild Ear Infections

In Lebanon, grandmothers used lukewarm olive oil to treat mild ear infections. They soaked a cotton ball in olive oil, put it in a spoon, and heated it gently over a stove. Once the oil was warm, they applied the solution to the baby’s ear. (6)

7. Cold Dairy Products for Sunburn

In Ukraine, grandmothers believed that sour cream could act as a natural remedy to soothe sunburned skin. The pH, fat, and protein in cold dairy products felt soothing and helped reduce swelling. According to dermatologist Dr. Tsippora Stainhouse, cold milk contains proteins that help soothe inflamed skin, lactic acid that helps the burned skin peel off easier, and the temperature is soothing to help stop the burn from continuing to, well, burn. (7)

8. Fennel and Cardamom for Diarrhea

In Pakistan, grandmothers boiled fennel and cardamom and served them to their babies every hour. They believed that this home remedy would help with dehydration and stomach upset, especially if kids were throwing up when drinking milk. (8)

9. Chamomile Tea for Clogged Tear Ducts

In Paraguay, grandmothers used chamomile tea to help cure clogged tear ducts. They would soak a cotton ball in the tea and massage it into the baby’s inner eye where it’s clogged. (9)

10. Honey and Lemon for Sore Throat

A popular home remedy used for sore throat is a mixture of honey and lemon juice. Both honey and lemon have antibacterial properties and can provide temporary relief from throat irritation. (11)

The Bottom Line

Our grandmothers’ bizarre home remedies may seem peculiar and outdated, but many of them have stood the test of time. It turns out that many of these crazy cure-alls did have some scientific evidence to support them. In some cases, modern medicines and prescriptions can be replaced with home remedies that have proven benefits and fewer side effects. It is important to remember, however, that not all home remedies have scientific backing, and it is essential to consult a medical professional before trying them. Our grandmothers may have been onto something with their quirky remedies, and sometimes the old ways may be the best ways.

Read More: 11 Natural Toothache Remedies You Can Do At Home


  1. https://www.forbes.com/health/conditions/ear-infections/ear-infection-treatment/#:~:text=To%20make%20a%20warm%20compress,area%20of%20the%20ear%20only.
  2. http://article.sapub.org/10.5923.j.nursing.20120204.03.html
  3. https://www.health.com/condition/sleep/lettuce-water-make-you-sleepy
  4. https://www.seattletimes.com/life/wellness/onion-syrup-is-surprisingly-popular-to-calm-coughs/
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313416
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/olive-oil-in-ear#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
  7. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/best-ways-to-treat-sunburn-dermatologists_l_5efb4817c5b6ca970915355d
  8. https://www.maxhealthcare.in/blogs/stop-loose-motions-with-these-3-simple-homemade-remedies#:~:text=Fennel%20and%20ginger%20powder%20are,a%20day%20to%20relieve%20diarrhea.&text=A%20cup%20of%20strong%20black,cardamom%20or%20nutmeg%20to%20it.
  9. https://canadianfirstaid.ca/blocked-tear-duct/#:~:text=Apply%20a%20warm%20compress%20using,day%20until%20the%20blockage%20disappears.
  10. https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2018/02/23/586515159/tea-honey-and-lemon-does-this-classic-trifecta-actually-help-a-sore-throat

    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.