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Five Southern Remedies for What Ails You

As the old folk wisdom goes, health ain’t something you can find in a bottle or a pill; instead, it’s something that comes from making proper choices and living the right way. For those with the South bred deep into their bones, many of those decisions are instinctual and automatic. We learn our remedies and treatments from our mothers and grandmothers, who learned it from theirs and so on.

From the medicinal uses of honeysuckle and lavender to the trick of a dab of whiskey on a piece of clean cotton for a toothache, Southerners know their way to good health. There are secrets that are hidden in the wisdom of the South, that modern medicine still hasn’t caught up to. But just in case you forgot, pull up a chair and listen for a spell, as here are five of the best Southern remedies you may already have in your pantry or garden.

Feeling Sour? Try a Bit of Lemon Balm

Mental health is critically important. Many people look at the South as a place of rural backwoods stereotypes, where men are stoic and unfeeling and ladies are prone to the vapors, but despite that unfair reputation, we’ve always known how important it is to treat stress and other mental issues. If you’re looking to prove that Southerners are happier, a little bit of lemon balm goes a long way. You can add it to teas or simply infuse it in hot water—or just cook with this herb directly to give meals a little extra pep.

Best of all, it doesn’t have any of the chemicals or additives that other treatments have. No caffeine, no pharmaceutical compounds, no list of active and inactive ingredients. Lemon balm is strong enough to treat insomnia and depression, but gentle enough that you can give it to babies to help with their teething pains and settle them down when they start throwing a tantrum.

Feeling Meek? Fenugreek

You don’t need to be able to pronounce this word to use it for your health. Fenugreek has been around for a long time and has some wide-ranging benefits. For men, the herb can help with testosterone levels, libido and strength. For women, you can use fenugreek seeds to help with weight regulation, treat inflammation and cramping, and increase breast milk production. For everyone in general, it is a low-fat source of fiber and essential nutrients that may regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol and overall reduce the symptoms of heartburn and ulcers.

Keep it around the house and incorporate it into your daily routine. The extract from the seeds has a vague “maple and nuts” flavor profile perfect for home cooking, and soaps and lotions made from fenugreek have a pleasant odor that is subtle, but persistent. You can steep it as a delicious tea, grind it into spices for your next soup or curry, or just use it as a natural thickening agent for homemade goods.

Low Testosterone Is a Ginger Subject

In a weird way, testosterone levels have always been intertwined with masculinity identity. It is an uncomfortable, borderline taboo topic that most fellows avoid discussing. Many men would rather get testosterone testing done at home, discreetly, instead of scheduling a visit with the family doctor to get checked out. Low testosterone can cause mood swings, aches and pains, hair and bone loss and chronic weakness. In short, it is to adult men what nightmares about going to school naked are to college students—a source of anxiety, discomfort, fear and shame.

Try a bit of ginger root. Not only is it delicious (and just the right amount of spicy that nobody will question why you’re always chewing on it), but it has many proven links to testosterone production in men. Research is still ongoing, in fact, with new discoveries being made constantly. Plus, it tastes great with other testosterone-boosting foods, such as oysters and fatty seafood, leafy greens like kale and anything with onions in it. Put down the beer (which actually lowers T) and pick up a ginger ale instead. Your missus will thank you for it.

Garden Your Way to Wellness

Tottering around in the garden all day is already healthy enough to count as a home remedy, but take a look at what grows out there. Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants and vitamins to keep your immune system strong, and that sprig of mint over there can help with back pain. You can grow calamine for bug bites and irritations, and not only does lavender smell great, but it also treats migraines and other headaches.

In short, a Southerner’s garden is their own personal pharmacy, stocked full of home remedies, with aisles for everything from toothaches and ingrown nails to incontinence and family planning solutions. Nobody knows the bounty of nature better, and there are so many options and solutions, a better question to ask would be what out there isn’t a home remedy?

Water Water Everywhere

Wait, water is also a home remedy? Darn right it is. Southern states are host to extreme temperatures, and many old homes down here are known for their beautiful artisanal wells and aquifers that have been around since the place was first built. With everything else on this list, it is important to remember the original panacea.

Is there really anything that water can’t do? From clearing out mucus buildup when we get sick to keeping focus and energy up—to being the best medium to prepare other remedies in—water is vital for our survival. Remember to stay hydrated, and good health will follow.

Many home remedies are often mocked and belittled by those who don’t understand them. We Southerners pride ourselves on self-sufficiency, efficiency and rugged individualism, and those qualities are reflected in our quick-and-dirty but amazingly useful treatments. Next time you’re under the weather, avoid a long line at the pharmacy and instead turn to some of these classic remedies that work just as well today as they did for our grandparents.

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