An “old wives tale” that is a supposed truth, which is actually untrue, may have originated from suspicion based on fear. These tales concern ways to handle life to keep unwanted things from happening, are passed down orally by older women in society to the young in decades and centuries past. People once thought that a dark red birthmark called a “port wine stain,” “firemark,” or “strawberry mark” happened because the pregnant mother had eaten something red.
On the other hand, folk medicine, now called “traditional” medicine, amassed remedies in many cultures over centuries, passing them down similarly. They were first assumed by Western medicine to be incorrect. Some have now been scientifically proven and are readily accepted as being effective. Drug companies have no vested interest in providing expensive research on those, since their business is strictly in developing and selling patented drugs.
If you ask a doctor or pharmacist about most “folk” cures, they will often suspect a placebo effect if it’s been successful. That could be a factor, since belief is a powerful thing. It’s widely accepted in medicine that a patient’s attitude toward healing is powerful enough to change the course and speed of recovery. Yet in the same breath, many dismiss home remedies out of hand.
Almost three months ago, I started eating a few golden raisins soaked in real juniper berry gin. You soak the raisins for a week or two, then eat nine every day. It is touted to relieve pain from arthritis and sometimes other chronic aches. After six weeks, I did notice a reduction in pain, and now it’s even better. Was it the raisin-gin remedy? Was it because it had rained so much that I’d not been as active? Was it because my research showed it had been successfully used for over one hundred years? I do tend to believe, hoping for the best. Was it a combination of all the above?
The answers aren’t important to me since I have no way of proving the actual remedy itself worked. I don’t concern myself with things I have no control over. I’ve lessened my pain, and now I’m satisfied to continue treatment.
There are a few traditional remedies now accepted by a large body of medical professionals, like eating chicken soup during a cold. There is irrefutable evidence it helps relieve symptoms, rehydrate, and shorten the length of the illness. Another saying widely known is, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” It’s been proven recently that apples are a superfood, not only full of nutrients and antioxidants but even that apple trees adapted themselves to be tasty to humans so we would spread its seed widely.
I’ve known folks who blindly believed that if a doctor or scientist said something, it must be true. Science and medicine are always revising their treatment or viewpoint with any new discovery. Decades ago, it was common to accept professionals at their word since we had few other resources for information, except old wives or folk healers. With seemingly endless information at our fingertips now, we understand that just because a person has a degree doesn’t make them infallible or more perceptive than we are. The fact that so many professionals disagree on everything from global warming to how life began shows they are human and subject to bias. Unfortunately, if we act on a false premise in a crucial condition, it can lead to an undesirable outcome.
I guess it is time to buy more gin. Should I just pour a glass or add it to the raisins?