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PEOPLE & VOICES - Home Remedies

Home Remedies, Mexican Style

by La Huerita

Everyone knows, or ought to know, that the best remedy for a hangover is a big steaming bowl of pozole. There are restaurants all over Mexico that serve only pozole, quite naturally called "pozolerias." They do especially good business on weekend mornings when customers come in for a bowl to cure what ails them.

But did you know that a cure for a bad cough is a glass of warm milk with honey and garlic in it? I found that out the hard way when I had a bad cold and my cough kept my neighbor awake all night. She knocked on my door the next morning with her offering and a gentle smile, and I had to drink it right there on the spot. It wasn’t good, but maybe it helped a bit.

And did you know that the fastest way to stop the itch of a mosquito bite is to rub it with a piece of bar soap? Being a mosquito magnet, that one I can vouch for!

Diarrhea, of the short-term type that we’ve all experienced from time to time in our lives, can be stopped dead with a teaspoon of ground nutmeg in a glass of water. That usually works within a couple of hours. Don’t ask me why.

One of the really fun things about living in Mexico is learning all of the great home remedies and fixes that people know. Mexicans are endlessly inventive and, besides the store of cures that have been handed down through generations, they can fix just about anything, at least long enough to keep things going until a better fix can be arranged.

Want to know the fix for a hole in your radiator? Well, that requires a short story.

Once I lived in a small Mexican town that was short on many amenities. One of those amenities was money, and I had a gringo friend who suffered from that shortage. She drove an old pickup truck that suffered not from a shortage but from a surfeit of holes in its radiator. She did not have the money for a new radiator. What to do?

While discussing the problem with a neighbor one day, the neighbor’s grandfather came out to see what was going on. He sized things up and told her he could fix it. “Wait here,” he said. “I’ll be right back.”

He disappeared into the house and returned with a box of oatmeal, which he calmly poured into the radiator. Then he filled the radiator with water and told her to start it up. It WORKED! And until she could finally afford a new radiator, she always carried extra oatmeal and water in her truck.

Of course, there was always a film of oatmeal covering the front of the truck and the windshield, and it didn’t do much for what was left of its paint job, but HEY! Whatever works, right?

Oatmeal and nutmeg—home remedies to stop the leaks that plague you. Viva Mexico!

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