4 Historical Remedies We Still Use Today

4 historical remedies
Written by Risa Schulman
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2 minutes

A lot has changed over the centuries, including incredible advancements in science, technology, and healthcare. Before modern healthcare, many ailments were addressed  through food or spices. Interestingly enough, we still incorporate some of these “treatments” into our diets or use them as at-home remedies. Read on to learn what historical “treatments” have become part of our modern diet.  

Citrus Fruits to Treat Scurvy

In the 1700s, scurvy was a common ailment for sailors. The disease causes severe pain, gum bleeding, reduces the ability to heal wounds, and can eventually lead to death. 1 Luckily, Dr.  James Lind discovered that access to citrus fruits, like limes and lemons, prevented scurvy. 2 Today, we know scurvy occurs due to a lack of vitamin C, but this type of Vitamin C deficiency  is no longer a public health problem in the U.S. 1 In modern times, incorporating citrus fruits into your diet can have several health benefits, like providing plenty of vitamin C and possibly reducing your risk of kidney stones. 3  

Bread & Milk for Boils

Homemade bread was sometimes used to treat boils. The heel of homemade bread was soaked in boiling water, squeezed out, and mixed with a pinch of baking soda to create a poultice. Then, it was wrapped in a moist cloth and placed on the affected area. Today, homemade poultices are still used as an at-home remedy.4      

Ginger Root 

Ginger has been used as a remedy since ancient times. 5   Historically, ginger powder, syrup, or tinctures were used to treat everything from the common cold and nausea to migraines, arthritis, and high blood pressure. 6   Today, ginger is still used as an at-home remedy for nausea and indigestion. 7 


Historically, garlic was thought to provide strength and help laborers complete more work. In fact, in ancient Greece, garlic was sometimes given to the early Olympic athletes to help them better perform. 8   In ancient India, garlic was thought to cure weakness, cough, skin conditions, and lack of appetite. 9 Modern science has confirmed that garlic contains many beneficial  properties, like the ability to reduce the length of a cold or flu, 10 improve cholesterol levels, and may help to increase exercise capacity 11 and reduce fatigue. 12   

Eating a balanced diet composed of nutrient-rich foods (like the ones listed above) and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you live a longer, healthier life. If you’re looking for additional ways to nourish your body with healthy meals, download our Heart Health Cookbook.

Written by:

Risa Schulman


Risa Schulman, Ph.D. has been helping companies and people build wellness for 25 years.

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