Farm Remedies

Most of these actually work, believe it or not.

Here are some quick hits on each of these recipes:

Boil Remedy

Epsom signs on Woodcote road by satguru, on Flickr (CC license) (cropped)

Named after a spring in Surrey, England, Epsom salt is a colloquial name for magnesium sulfate. Eating it can have laxative effects and it can be an effective treatment for barium chloride poisoning (to a point–the two combine into an equally toxic, but less soluble compound).

Boils, however, are caused by a variety of things, comparatively few of which are internal. They’re typically treated either topically or surgically.

Drinking lemony magnesium salt water will do nothing interesting except give you fresh breath and maybe the runs. Your boils will remain unchanged.

For Hog Fever

Asafoetida’s name comes from the Farsi word for resin (aza) and the Latin word for fetid (foeditus), which is an apt description; it’s the pungent latex extruded by the root of the ferula plant. In Indian cooking, small amounts of dried and ground asafoetida is sometimes added to clarified butter to impart an onion-like flavor to food. In large amounts, it’s also known by the charming name “Devil’s dung.”

It has been long used in Eastern medicine and in the Arab world, however, as a medicine. In China, it was used to fight the 1918 influenza pandemic; in 2009, scientists confirmed that some of the odoriferous compounds in asafoetida (sesquiterpene coumarins) actually have greater antiviral efficacy in vitro against H1N1 strains than commercial antiviral products.

Lactated Pepsin

Usually called Pepsin-A these days, it’s an enzyme that helps break down protein; it could easily help babies digest milk.

Potato for Burns

A 1990 study found that “[c]ompared with treatment with plain gauze dressings, the application of the potato peel dressing reduced or eliminated desiccation, permitted the survival of superficial skin cells and hastened epithelial regeneration.”

Meal Poisoning

Sorghum and other grasses can develop cyanogenic glycosides–that is, cyanide–under certain weather conditions. Hyposulphite converts cyanide to thiocyanate, which safely passes through the body.

From a notebook originally from somewhere in the general area of Sterling, Colorado from the 1930s.

This recipe is from the 23nd page of the notebook; here’s the page in full (click to enlarge).

Click to expand a longer explanation...

In the words of the seller:
I acquired this book from the great granddaughter of the woman who wrote this book back in a small Nebraska town in the 30’s. She belonged to that generation of rural housewives who worked tirelessly to make ends meet and “keep body and soul together” for their families working the farms.
Later addendum:

[A]fter a conversation I had with a friend’s sister who used to live in North Eastern Colorado, given the type of recipes listed we decided it might be from a small town there, i.e., Sterling or Fort Morgan. Also North Platte or Scottsbluff, Nebraska. Even Cheyenne, Wyoming. If you Google a map of Sterling, Colorado and pull back, you will see all these little towns in that tri-state area.

Boil Remedy


  • 4 oz. Epsom salts
  • 2 oz. cream tartar in
  • 10 [times?] warm water
  • Juice of 3 lemons

Take 1 to 2 tablespoons every morning before breakfast. Keep on taking until no more boils appear.

Ed Glover


For Hog Fever

Asafoetida size of a pea dissolved in 1 Tablespoon water; mix with 1 Tablespoon Listerine; use in atomizer.

From Mrs. Koeller


For Babies

2 oz. lactated pepsin; 8 or 10 drops in water to stop throwing up feeding.

Mrs. Koeller


For Burns

[Grind?] raw spud and put on burn right after burned and when it starts burning take off and put more spud on.

From Mrs. Ball


([Meal?] Poisoning in Cattle)

Hyposulphite 1/2 lb. to dose in 1 pt. water.

When ordering, get 10 pounds from drug store.

One Comment

  1. Angela Goldsmith

    It says for weed poisoning in cattle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.
Required fields are marked:*