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Worth it? Americans spend $34B for alternative medicine
Echinacea, left, fish oil, center, and glucosamine pills are shown in San Francisco. Americans spend more than a 10th of their out-of-pocket health care dollars on alternative medicine, according to the first national estimate of such spending in more than a decade. Altogether, consumers spent an estimated $34 billion on those and other alternative remedies in 2007, the report found. (AP) Eric Risberg

Did you know that Grandma’s home remedies are making a comeback?

People are taking a closer look at how an assortment of human ailments were successfully treated in the olden days.

Many years ago, Granny had a “magic” potion for treating a number of ailments, conditions and incidents. Her medicine chest contained common products such as aspirin, rubbing alcohol, iodine, antibiotic salve, peroxide, Vicks VapoRub, Pepto-Bismol, Tetterine, Black Draught, eyedrops and sterile bandages.

With only a few products, Grandma could ease pain, kill germs, loosen ear wax, stop a rash, soothe a chest cold, settle an upset stomach, shrink a boil, treat constipation, moisten tired eyes and wrap up a wound.

When these medicines alone weren’t enough, Grandma concocted her own spirits. She used a combination of whiskey, lemon juice and honey to make a cough syrup strong enough to stop a cough dead in its tracks. She could take the pain and swelling out of a bee sting with a wad of moist chewing tobacco, and cover a wound with a spider web to slow down bleeding. Grandma knew that a slice of fatback would draw a splinter or briar to the surface of the skin.

Home remedies are known to produce explainable and unexplainable results. For instance, Grandma believed that placing a bar of soap between the bed sheets at night would rid a person of leg cramps. How or why this works remains a mystery today, but many people say it does.

And then there is the mystery of why Vicks salve used religiously cures toenail fungus. Folks swear that it works, and columnist Dr. Peter Gott has written about this awesome remedy in his column.

Grandma was smart enough to know when home remedies would do the trick, and knew when to seek professional medical treatment. But for the most part, her first-aid kit would take care of most brushes with everyday life.

What is so amazing is the fact that Grandma discovered the secret of longevity and good health that medical doctors are now passing on to their patients for a fee. Grandma always said, “Eat healthy foods including plenty of fresh veggies and fruits, do lots of chores so you will get plenty of exercise, go to bed at a decent hour to allow your body will get enough rest, drink plenty of water, don’t drink alcohol and don’t use tobacco.”

One other thing. Grandma always cautioned against “eating too much lard,” which translates to “don’t eat too much fried food.”

It’s good to know that Grandma’s tried-and-true home-remedies are being re-discovered in this modern age.

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