Amish Folk Remedies

A buggy sits beside a barn.
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The Amish community has garnered much recognition in recent years due to reality programming and documentaries. While once dismissed as "simple," it is more evident that the Amish culture is a fascinating and substantial contrast to what is typically found in the Western world. This community has an established history of healing.

1 Today

The Amish have many natural remedies.
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The Amish have a profound respect for the human body and maintain an acute awareness for health. They believe the physical body is the "temple of God." This consideration for physical needs manifests in a variety of folk remedies. Their treatments consist primarily of herbs, flora and other organic means. There is no religious impediment to seeking medical care for the majority of Amish communities. Some groups limit their interaction with modern world, which includes physician consultation. Some sects don't have health insurance and can't afford medical care. Transportation also limits the Amish from seeking modern medical treatment. Distances too great for horse-and-buggy require alternative transportation arrangements.

2 Origins

A "powwow," also called a "sympathy cure," is a practice originally associated with the Pennsylvania Dutch. The word is often confused with the Algonquian gathering of medicine men, which is also called a "powwow," but the two are not related. German author John George Hohman's "Powwows or The Long Lost Friend" instructs on a variety of European cures, remedies and even spells. These faith-healing practices are accepted by some Amish communities, but a few groups have banned them, but the folk remedies are regularly practiced by both Amish and non-Amish today.

3 Onion

Onions are used for a variety of ailments. The stringent liquid is a purifier and is believed to pull irritants away from the skin. To treat an insect bite, you first gently clean the area. Then, apply a slice of raw onion to the bite. If you don't have sliced onion, you can also wet a bar of soap and rub the area. The soap will stop the itching as it disinfects the skin.

Onions are also used for congestion. You can prepare a chest rub if you fry a chopped onion in ½ cup vegetable shortening or lard. When the onions are caramelized, strain to remove the vegetables from the drippings. Rub the liquid on the chest as needed. Children may also benefit from an Amish cold medicine. Combine 1 teaspoon of brown sugar with ½ cup of finely chopped onion in a pint jar. Mix the ingredients and allow to stand for at least 1 hour. Give the child 2 or 3 teaspoons of the mixture every hour.

4 Honey

Honey has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times. It has natural antibacterial and antiseptic properties. In Amish folk medicine, it is just as versatile. To help control high blood pressure, consume 1 teaspoon of honey with each meal. This same practice can also aid individuals with anxiety problems. People who suffer from insomnia can take 1 tablespoon of honey, alone or in a cup of water, before bedtime. If you experience a nighttime cough, try 1 teaspoon of honey before sleep. Honey can also be used to soothe minor burns. Coat the injured area carefully and cover with a soft cotton bandage.