My maternal grandma passed away at the age of 98 years old. She lived a long and healthy life. I never heard her complain of any aches and pains. She was a very strong woman.

Whenever I was sick as a child, my mother did not take me to the doctor. Instead she took me to grandmas house to care for me. My grandma would diagnose me and heal me with natural remedios (remedies).

wooden board with fresh herbs and other common traditional Mexican remedies mint chamomile Vicks rosemary

These are my grandma’s home remedies, I’d love to hear your own home remedies in the comments below.

Vicks VapoRub

If I had a cold or a fever she would smear Vicks VapoRub on my chest. She would also spread vapor rub on the soles of my feet and have me wear socks to bed.

jar of Vick's Vapor Rub on a wooden surface

Homemade rubbing alcohol

If I had a fever she would soak a towel with a homemade green rubbing alcohol and placed it on my forehead. The homemade alcohol had floating herbs inside the bottle including romero (rosemary) and marijuana (interesting, right?!).

fresh rosemary sprigs on a wooden surface

Hot Herbal Teas

If I had a stomachache she would either brew some manzanilla (chamomile) or hierbabuena (mint) tea. The herbs she used were fresh from her garden — she never used tea bags.

cinnamon sticks, rosemary, chamomile and mint on a wooden board

Té de manzanilla (Chamomile Tea)

There’s just something soothing about chamomile, and it’s not just an old wives’ tale.

Té de manzanilla (chamomile tea) brings back so many warm memories. My grandma grew chamomile in her backyard and she always made me a warm cup of manzanilla if my tummy hurt or before bedtime.

Té de manzanilla (Chamomile Tea) in a clear glass cup with a honey stick. The glass is on a vintage doily on a wood surface

I continue to drink chamomile at night to wind down and, when my children have a tummy ache I make this chamomile tea for them. Even when they were babies I’d make them some té de manzanilla sweetened with honey and gave it to them in their baby bottle. A warm cup can be just the ticket to calming your child.

This is a great tea to drink after dinner, before bedtime. Chamomile tea has soothing, calming, and relaxing properties. You can either use dried chamomile flowers or chamomile tea pouches. Chamomile is best served hot and is delicious with a bit of honey.

Hierbabuena (Mint Tea)

Mint relieves digestive symptoms, such as gas, bloating, and indigestion (read more science-backed benefits).

Hierbabuena (Mint Tea) in a Mexican pottery cup on a vintage white doily and wood background

Té de Oregano (Oregano Tea)

If I had a cough or a sore throat, she would make me Té de Oregano (Oregano Tea) made of dried oregano and would have me gargle with salt water, and for dinner I knew delicious caldo de pollo would be on the menu.

dried Oregano sprinkled on a wooden surface

Té de canela (Cinnamon Tea)

Both my grandmothers drank té de canela (cinnamon tea), as well as used the aromatic spice in savory and sweet dishes. After researching, I realized there are surprising health benefits and unique healing abilities associated with this beloved spice.

three cinnamon sticks on a vintage doily on wooden surface

Evil Eye

Sometimes if I was sick for no apparent reason she would say, “Alguien te dio el mal de ojo” (Someone gave you the evil eye).

hand holding a bouquet of fresh herbs and wearing an evil eye bracelet

She would sweep an egg over my body and begin to pray, then she would crack the egg in a glass of water and place the glass on the floor under my bed, and in the morning she would say the evil eye was gone, and magically I felt better.

basket of farm fresh eggs on kitchen table

Empacho

There were other times that she blamed illnesses on empacho, literally meaning an impacted stomach. She would crack a fresh egg (over-easy style) on my tummy and roll the yolk back and forth until it broke. Then she would smear Vaseline on her hands and massage my legs to work out any knots. It was a deep tissue sobada (massage) that was quite uncomfortable as a child.

She especially did this if I accidentally swallowed my chewing gum because she would say the gum would go down to my legs and needed to be worked out before it caused other stomach issues.

More home remedies 

Then there were the common cuts and scrapes that were treated with fresh aloe vera squeezed from her aloe plant accompanied with “sana, sana, colita de rana…”

Of course, if I was really sick like when I had the chickenpox in the second grade then I was taken to the doctor. I remember the doctor recommending some pink calamine lotion for my itchy body. My grandma ended up making her own concoction that relieved the itching far more than the pink stuff. I’m not sure how she made it, but it worked.

No matter what remedy grandma tried, I knew she would always make me feel better. As a mother I make herbal teas for my children and rub their chests with Vicks, and make them homemade chicken soup if they are sick.

I even bought my children some evil eye bracelets to keep el mal de ojo away. I’m all about trying the tried and true first before running to the doctor. My children love the extra attention and I prefer to try simple old-fashioned remedies first.

I’ve always thought that I could write an entire book on the home remedies grandma had for any ailments. She was such a wonderful healer in more ways than she knows.

Check out more home remedies

If you have natural home remedies that work for you, please let me know in the comments below. I love hearing from you!

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Photography by Raemi Vermiglio