WILL PINKSTON | The Sun
Ray Koehne, owner of Der Dutch Merchant in Murray, scans over a shelf of gluten-free all-purpose baking flour, commonly used as an alternative for people on specialized diets. Among the home remedies Koehne recommends, many edible concoctions have health benefits all their own.
MURRAY — In the modern era where there’s a prescription medication for nearly every ailment, don’t be so quick to throw out grandma’s tried-and-true traditional home remedies.
Some of the simple, but seemingly strange, herbal remedies passed down for generations of families still remain beneficial to everyday maladies, and at a cheaper cost than newer pharmaceutical options.
So while drug store prescription medications remain vital in circumstances like infections, major wounds and diseases, the treatment of simple symptoms can be solved with a trip to the garden. Furthermore, many home remedies can help people be proactive in their health care through simple dietary solutions.
“There’s about 20 percent of ailments that are really emergency type things,” said Ray Koehne, owner of Der Dutch Merchant in Murray. “We have the best trauma system in the world, so if I was to be injured in a motorcycle accident, I’m going to a trauma center, not an herbalist.
“But about 80 percent of ailments are diet and lifestyle based, and that we can do a lot with, with natural things.”
Like many people growing up before the widespread usage of modern pharmaceutical medication, Koehne’s childhood household medicine cabinet contained three items: aspirin (made from concentrated white willow bark), an all-purpose salve, and an antacid solution made of bismuth.
Before modern medications, people turned to what had been passed down for generations and that’s what Koehne hopes to pass along.
“Many of these products have thousands of years of usage,” he said. “They have been used traditionally, especially in Chinese medicine and ayurveda — Indian medicine — and they’re 5,000 years old, so what doesn’t work has long since been abandoned.”
For burns, stings, scrapes and bites, bentonite clay — used as far back as the Mesopotamian civilization — remains an all-purpose remedy, fit for any first aid kit, Koehne said. The topical clay dries on the skin and can act as a shield against urushiol, the oily allergen found in poisonous plants or as a poultice wrapped around a burned site.
In use for nearly as long, the herb turmeric has historically been used to treat numerous conditions such as inflammation. Koehne said many people opt to take turmeric in a proactive manner to reduce the risk for heart disease, in the same way that many people consume cinnamon daily for its blood sugar leveling properties.
Patsy Lampkin, owner of Peach Blossom Health Foods in Murray, said many people grew up using castor oil as a natural laxative, although folk medicine touts its usage as a topical ointment for drawing out pain.
“Everybody wants that fast fix, that pill that will take care of something and they won’t have to worry about it,” Lampkin said. “They don’t want that long-term fix that will take care of it and keep it away.”
While home remedies seem strange for many in the modern era of medicine, Koehne said he’s seen more people beginning to use natural solutions in lieu of more costly drugs and more doctors willing to work with their patients’ wishes, as well.
“People should listen to their own body and, of course, you have to go to the doctor for some things, but some things you can take care of on your own with just simple things that grandma used to use,” Lampkin said.
Call Will Pinkston, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8676.