Honey Helps Common Ailments

Chistmas 2017

Christmas 2017

A Christmas Get-together

A Christmas get-together reminded me that historically honey is part of our families’ wellness heritage. Family history is often recorded as grandmother’s hearsay;  reminisced stories from her youth. These stories are told over holiday meals, embellished, polished, repeated until they resemble a tale that no one ever doubts however, can no longer prove. I stumbled upon a note from my father’s past. This note cemented my belief. Honey is and was a significant piece of our family heritage.

Dad was 6 years old when he entered St. Michael’s Parish School. He could not speak English and recited “The Lord’s Prayer” in German. His English speaking classmates humiliated him. Grandpa forbade German to be spoken in the household. Such a stressful situation for the young man! Dad’s forceful tears of humiliation, together with  anxiety and exposure to a classroom environment, assaulted his immune system.

Shortly thereafter, dad succumbed to diphtheria, a deadly infection. Its decline in popularity is largely attributed to the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis shot, a vaccine more commonly referred to as DTaP, which doctors recommend for all children. Although diphtheria is treatable, it is a very serious infection that can result in hospitalization and even death if proper medical care is not received. One of the first signs of a diphtheria infection is a sore throat. This infection is more serious when a child contracts it, with the mortality rate nearly double, so it is important to take any sign of a sore throat very seriously.

In 1938, this vaccine was not yet discovered. For immigrants on the west-side of Cleveland, Ohio, doctors were last resort medicine. Grandma’s skill as a nurse mid-wife failed to compliment dad’s treatment plan. What did impact his recovery, was grandma’s knowledge of folk remedy attained on the Ramstiener family farm.

Dad’s throat was swollen and breathing was painfully difficult. Grandma is reported to have made cotton swabs saturated in raw honey and vinegar solution. She swabbed his throat deeply with the solution, repeating this treatment through several days and nights. Finally, his breathing eased and his fever broke. He survived using folklore medicine! I do not recommend or support using folklore in place of medical care. My goal is to illustrate the use of honey as a safe adjunct to medical care.

So this past Christmas day, our family retold Papa’s story. My nurse, daughter-in-law was recovering from a cold.  After the story finished, she went to the kitchen’s honey pot and took a spoonful of the nectar. Witnessing her, the group ceased conversing. Startled, she noted our eyes watching her. When she returned to the group she coyly commented, “What? It can’t hurt!”





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