Old Fashioned Remedies: Peppermint….More Than Just an After Dinner Treat.

Since the beginning of time, people have relied on herbs and plants to treat every day ailments.  Now, most people rely on pharmaceuticals to do the job, but there are some who stand firmly behind these naturally occurring plants and their healing properties. Today, we take a look at Peppermint.

Peppermint has been used in cooking and as a medicine since 1500 BC and is thought to have originated in Northern Africa and the Mediterranean.  Early Egyptian texts state that it was even used as currency!

Eventually, peppermint was brought to Europe around 1240 A.D.   It was listed in the Icelandic Pharmacopoeia (basically a cookbook containing directions for the identification and preparation of medicines) as an herbal remedy.

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In 1721, peppermint showed up in the London Pharmacopoeia and by was being cultivated on a much larger scale by then. Farmers went from growing a couple acres of the plant, to several hundred acres.

When Europeans began settling in North America, they soon discovered that the Native American’s were already using the herb, although it was a slightly different variety.  Settlers brought their European variety with them and soon that began growing naturally as well.

Today, the United States produces over half of the world’s commercially grown Peppermint. Michigan is the top producer, although it is also found in the northeast from Indiana to New York and the very southernmost areas of Canada. Much of what is produced is made into Peppermint oil.  Although the United States may produce the largest quantity of oil, it is generally agreed upon that the best quality oil comes from England.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil

Throughout the years, Peppermint has been used for the following:

Relieving toothaches.  When peppermint oil is applied directly to the sore tooth, it soothes the inflammation.

Whitening teeth.  People during the Middle ages used to chew on Peppermint leaves to help keep their teeth white.

Killing bacteria. Mint has long been used as an antiseptic, particularly for the mouth.

Calming an upset stomach and relieving gas.  Peppermint is thought to have anti inflammatory properties.  It calms the muscles in the digestive tract, helping to relieve a stomach ache.  The Romans grew peppermint specifically for this reason.

Getting rid of the common cold. Inhaling peppermint oil will alleviate the symptoms of the cold.  When applied directly to the skin, it is also a painkiller.  The surface heat it produces relieves pain beneath the skin.

See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]

See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]

                                     Relieving itchy skin.  Peppermint has been used to heal rashes and bug bites.                                                                           When put in shampoo, it also relives a dry, itchy scalp.

Perfume.  Peppermint oil applied to the skin gives off a clean, sweet, and refreshing aroma.  For this same reason, it was a used as ground cover in Europe during the middle ages.

After looking at this list, you can see how things like after dinner mints, toothpaste and mouthwash have developed over time.  What is your favorite use for peppermint?  Let us know in the comments!

Old Fashioned Remedies: Apple Cider Vinegar

The best thing about old-fashioned, natural cures is that one product can solve – or at least soothe – multiple problems. You can keep them around the house in case of any issue.

Apple cider vinegar is one such solution. This all-purpose vinegar is different from regular vinegar because it’s made from the juice of apples and fermented into vinegar.

It’s important to use unpasteurized ACV to get the full benefits.

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So what can apple cider vinegar do for you? Let’s start with the basics:

  1. Apple cider vinegar improves digestion. Dissolve a tablespoon into a large glass of water and drink it 15 minutes before a meal. This will help break down the food in your stomach for easier digestion.
  2. Drink ACV to improve your immune system. Doing so helps the growth of good bacteria in your body and helps prevent illness.
  3. Got heartburn? ACV helps. As usual, don’t drink it straight, but if you’re suffering from heartburn, dilute it in water and drink up to stop the burn. ACV helps balance stomach acid and in doing so calms down heartburn.
  4. ACV reduces bacteria that cause bad breath. Just gargle some diluted ACV to kill the bad germs and the bad breath will go away.
  5. Drink ACV for energy. It’s considered very healthy with lots of nutrients that will give you energy throughout the day.

These are just the start of the solutions that apple cider vinegar can give you. You can go here for more information.

Do you take apple cider vinegar, or use it externally? Let us know in the comments what apple cider vinegar does for you.

Old Fashioned Remedies: Make Your Own Toothpaste

Modern medicine has come far – but in some cases when you look at the chemical list, it doesn’t sound so great.

For instance, look at the chemicals in toothpaste. Glycerin coats teeth but it also stops cavities from self-healing. Do you really want that?

Homemade toothpaste is worth a shot. It has a different taste that you have to get used to that’s a different sort of minty freshness, but you can also change around the flavors yourself.

A popular ingredient for homemade toothpaste is coconut oil. Coconut oil is all-around great for you; it’s heart-healthy and lowers risk of heart disease. Plus it gives that tropical flavor!

Another important ingredient in homemade toothpaste is baking soda, which helps effectively clean teeth.

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Channel your inner historian with this vintage sterling silver toothbrush. We don’t recommend using it to brush your teeth — who knows whose mouth it’s been in?

Want to try some homemade toothpaste of your own like they used back in the day? Here’s a recipe (adapted from familysponge.com):

6 tablespoons coconut oil
6 tablespoons baking soda
25 drops peppermint essential oil
1 tsp stevia (or more based on taste)

Just mix together and store in a jar.

You can also replace the drops of peppermint oil with any other essential oil of your choice! That’s the fun part of making your own toothpaste. Enjoy!

Have you made your own toothpaste? How did it turn out?

Old Fashioned Remedies: The Magic of Honey & Cinnamon

For years, the combination of honey & cinnamon has been touted for its beneficial properties. Both cinnamon and honey individually have wonderful attributes, and putting them together doubles the benefits.

Some go so far as to claim that honey & cinnamon will cure any disease. While we wouldn’t dare to assert that claim, science does suggest that the combination is still a pretty powerful medicine.

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What will honey & cinnamon do for you, you ask? Here are just a few things:

Antioxidants. Want to boost your immune system? Honey & cinnamon were born to do just that. These magical ingredients help the immune system fight off viruses and colds.

Fight off cancer. Some say that honey & cinnamon will help prevent cancer. Honey has chemicals said to prevent cancer and cinnamon prevents tumor growth.

Help arthritis. Got arthritis? Take this combination twice a day in a cup of hot water. The anti-inflammatory properties will reduce any arthritis pain.

Bug bites. As well as witch hazel, honey & cinnamon work wonderfully for treating bug bites. Just combine the two and put the solution onto the itchy bug bite or an itchy patch of skin and the itching should disappear!

Digestion. Honey & cinnamon in hot water are sure to ease any stomach upsets. This combination will help the digestive system work better and relieve indigestion.

Skin care. Both aging skin and skin that suffers from breakouts will benefit from a simple paste of honey & cinnamon. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help soften skin and get rid of spots.

These are just some honey & cinnamon remedies! There are plenty more out there — what would you use this miraculous pairing for?

Sources:

Snopes

Natural Cures

Surprising Benefits

 

Old Fashioned Remedies: Do-It-Yourself Lavender Oil

Is there any herb more well-loved than lavender? Its healing and calming properties make lavender the perfect herb to keep in your cupboard.

For thousands of years, people have used lavender for its relaxing properties. Smelling lavender has a calming effect on the brain, and rubbing lavender oil on wrists and temples carries that calming scent with you for high-stress situations. It’s also said that smelling lavender lowers blood pressure.

A man named René-Maurice Gattefossé discovered further healing properties of lavender when he was the victim of an explosion at the laboratory in his workplace in the 19th century. He applied lavender oil to his infected wounds – and they were completely cured.

Other benefits of lavender include:

1. Insomnia. Smooth lavender oil on your pillow and inhale to help you fall asleep.
2. Bug bites. Put lavender oil on bug bites to reduce swelling and stop itching.
3. Cuts. Put lavender oil on a wound to stop bleeding and kill bacteria.
4. Dry skin. Rub lavender oil on dry skin to relieve it – the same also goes for chapped lips.

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Lavender also adds great flavor to baked goods!

Lavender oil is not hard to find at your own local health store, but making your own oil at home ensures oil with quality ingredients.

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Lavender Oil Recipe

If you’re in the right climate, look for fresh lavender bushes in your area (be sure to ask first before picking if the bush doesn’t belong to you!). Pick your own fresh lavender flowers.

Ingredients

  • large glass canning jar
  • a mild base oil, enough to fill the container ½ inch from the top over the plants (see here for a list of carrier oils)
  • a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
  • a dark glass bottle with a stopper
  1. Put your fresh lavender in your jar and fill with the base oil. Secure the lid and put the jar in a warm place, shaking occasionally. The lavender and oil will infuse together. Let sit overnight.
  2. Strain the oil through your strainer or cheesecloth to get rid of the plants. Add more lavender to the jar and repeat step one 2-3 more times until you’ve reached the desired infusion of lavender.
  3. Store the oil in a dark glass bottle in a cool dark place. Mark the bottle with the date and store the oil for up to a year.

There you have it: your very own homemade lavender oil like they would’ve made in the olden days. It’s a useful thing to have around; you never know when lavender oil will come in handy.

See here for a fascinating history of lavender!

What’s your favorite property of lavender? Let us know in the comments!

Old Fashioned Remedies: DIY Rose Water Lotion

Nothing says nice weather like a dab of homemade rose water in your very own homemade recipe. Its light, fresh scent will make you feel refreshed.

Roses have been used for medicinal and nutritional uses since ancient times.

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The Rose Water

Making rose water is simple. All you need are fresh rose petals, preferably without pesticides, that have been rinsed off. It’s best to pluck your own, but make sure you aren’t doing anything that would anger your neighbors.

Also grab a pot, gauging the size by how much water you want.

Put the petals in the pot and fill with enough water to cover the petals (not too much!). Cover the pot and let it simmer until the petals lose their color. This is the simplest and most traditional method.

Drain the liquid into a container and you have your rose water!

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The Lotion

Now your rose water is ready to mix in with the lotion.

It’s a simple recipe: mix half rose water and half vegetable glycerin together.

Put the mixture in a nice bottle and voila! You have your old fashioned rose water lotion.

You’ve bottled the smell of spring!

 

Old Fashioned Remedies: Witch Hazel & A Bonus Bug Spray DIY

Many seem to have forgotten the almost magical qualities of witch hazel, but it deserves so much more recognition. Victorians used to keep gallon jugs of witch hazel on their vanities for the extract’s multi-purpose use.

Wondering what witch hazel can do for you? To start with:

  • Witch hazel reduces inflammation, making it ideal for treating acne and under-eye bags
  • Use it on bruises to help them heal faster
  • Treat itching & swelling from poison ivy or poison oak
  • Soothe a sunburn with witch hazel to help it feel better & heal faster

…And more!

Summer’s coming up, and that means it’s almost mosquito season. For many of us, however, the chemical-laden bug sprays on the market are a little suspicious.

Witch hazel offers a solution that doesn’t leave your skin smelling like chemicals for hours. It’s a natural bug repellant (but if you’re caught out without bug spray, it makes for a soothing bug bite treatment, too). People in the olden days probably used witch hazel to keep away the bugs.

A mint plant with a flower.

A fresh mint plant.

DIY Witch Hazel Bug Spray (from this source):

1. Ingredients:  your choice of essential oil, witch hazel, and water.

2. The essential oil can be any combination of citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, cedar, catnip, lavender, or mint. Using at least one oil from the mint family is recommended.

3. Fill the spray bottle half full of boiled water, then fill almost the rest of the way with witch hazel. Add 30-50 drops of your oils of choice. The more drops of oil you add, the stronger the mixture will be.

That’s it! Now this old fashioned remedy will repel bugs and help you smell really good at the same time.

Do you have any natural home remedies you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

Vintage Insulators: From Phone to Home

For some collectors, purchasing a Hemingray No. 42 insulator completely makes their day.

But what exactly is an insulator, you might ask? Let’s start with the basics.

An insulator is a glass item originally made to insulate telegraph and telephone wires against their wooden poles. You would see these on telephone poles especially in the 1920s through the 1940s.

An oddly-shaped insulator in-store at SNC-ETC.

An oddly-shaped insulator in-store at S&C-ETC.

Insulator collecting is a niche market which, for those involved, incites great enthusiasm over these beautiful pieces.

The most common insulator colors are clear and aqua thanks to insulators’ natural iron content. But many, many colors exist for insulators, which is part of the fun for collectors.

The earliest insulators were “Ramshorn” and “Glass Block” designs in the mid-19th century, following Morse’s invention of the telegraph line in 1844.

Clear and teal Hemingray insulators, available online.

Clear and teal Hemingray insulators, available online.

Put a battery-operated light inside the insulator for a dreamy lighting effect!

A lot of change in insulator design occurred through the years, as people had not yet figured out what worked and what didn’t. This led to many different insulator designs: all the more for collectors today.

The popular “Ramshorn” pattern held the wire suspended beneath. This design held for a while, but soon it was replaced by the superior “pin-type” insulator.

Louis Cauvet patented the last major insulator design in 1865, which marked the last big change until the end of insulators’ production in the 1970s.

Interesting insulator shapes abound.

Interesting insulator shapes abound.

All this flip-flopping did lead to a big number of colors and designs available out there. One is called the “Gingerbread Man”, with a rounded top and pointed arms. Another is the “T-Bar”, which resembles a robot with its square top and grooved, outstretched arms. However, the most popular design by far is the Hemingray No. 42. Hemingray made the biggest variety of insulator styles.

Insulators can be found in many an antique store today, and they also make great pieces for home décor, whether stand-alone or as do-it-yourself projects.

Make sure to keep an eye out for these special pieces the next time you visit an antique store.

Sources:

Collecting Info

Insulator Summaries

In-depth Website