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By Maddie, Ariel, Falisha, Jenna, and Cailin


The past century has witnessed unprecedented advancements in allopathic medicine, improving the quality of caregiving and exponentially reducing mortality rates for previously incurable illnesses. Yet despite these breakthroughs, there are many who continue to rely on home remedies, for reasons ranging from a lack of accessibility to healthcare infrastructure to a preference for cultural belief and tradition. Home remedies, characterized by their simplicity and accessibility, typically involve some combination of common household ingredients to treat illness including alcohol, lemon, turmeric, tree bark, and more. In this collection of essays, we broaden the scope of home remedies to include elements of traditional medicine and alternative medicine, such as herbal remedies, acupuncture, and homeopathy, to accurately represent care practices in households that do not solely rely on contemporary medicine. While it must be noted that certain home remedies, particularly those informed by alternative medicine, may lack robust scientific evidence, they all nonetheless work to enable patient autonomy and agency in treatment. However, this does not mean that the home remedy use is individualized or isolated to a patient or even a family; it is informed by several societal factors, including socioeconomic status and cultural heritage, that have evolved over decades of medical practice. Through our exploration of the diverse landscape of home remedies, we aim to emphasize the enduring relevance of these treatments in modern medical practice.


Janette Godwin, a previous nursing home employee, details her memories of her grandpa “Ro-Ro” encouraging her to use a combination of honey and brandy when countered with a bad cough—first coating the throat, then burning it. Godwin expresses how her mother used to make her family members “fight it for a couple of days” before taking them to the doctor, waiting until things got worse.

Nancy Holt, a Mebane resident and founder of a multi-million medical billing start up, reflects on her husband’s experiences as a shaman who used alternative treatments to treat many “untreatable” conditions of members of their communities.

Carla Norwood, a co-founder of a Warren County-based Landscape company, expresses how almost all of her illnesses were treated at home by either her mother or grandparents, where she rarely went to the doctor. Norwood originally learned the sugar and bourbon remedy to stop her coughing, however she started to use cough medicine on her own around the house.

Ysaura Rodriguez, a Mexican indigenous woman who worked in the US as a cook and later as a migrant farm worker, details how her culture and childhood shaped the home remedies she uses in the present day.

Janet Sasser Ross, a public high school teacher in Albemarle, details her grandmother’s and her aunt’s experiences using homeopathic remedies in successful and unsuccessful ways in treating their cancers.

Cynthia Songs, reminisces on the role that her grandmother had in fostering her relationship with home remedies. She details her experiences blindly eating the oil boiled off of hog feet growing up, as well as using mouthwash for ant bites, just following the orders of her family members.

Talley-Brame Ebony, a business owner in Warrenton, North Carolina, reflects on how her grandparents used to make her drink strange concoctions, causing her to“go through a deep sweat in the middle of the night”, ridding Ebony of her cold symptoms. It was her family’s lack of privilege and wealth that stopped them from going to the doctor for even something as minor as the common cold.

Student Essays

Cultural and Ethnic Influences on Home Remedies

Introduction There are a multitude of reasons as to why people turn to home remedies: sometimes out of necessity, other times out of comfort. Oftentimes, after people have either made the willing decision or had it made for them, culture … Read more

Home Remedies: The Role of Family and Community

Introduction Several medicinal treatments have developed throughout the evolution of medicine, including both traditional and alternative methods. These alternative methods are often called home remedies: medications used to treat ailments at home, undergoing no professional advising (1). Whether or not … Read more

Roots and Remedies: Exploring the Historical Origins of Home Remedies in Rural North Carolina

Before the advent of allopathic medicine, healthcare was characterized by its imprecision, drawing upon a knowledge base spanning countless centuries and diverse cultures. Through trial and error, specific remedies for various ailments made their way into medical practice, evolving through … Read more

Patient Autonomy and Home Remedies

Introduction A number of medical treatments have been developed and include traditional and alternative treatments. These alternative treatments, most often known as natural remedies, are often less invasive and much more natural compared to their contemporary counterparts. They have evolved … Read more

The Socioeconomic Influence on Home Remedy Use

Introduction A patient’s decision to use home remedies may be based on personal, cultural, and historical reasons, with one of the most prevalent reasons being the lack of access to conventional healthcare. Although home remedies have been embedded into certain … Read more