How do people discover home remedies? Who decided, for example, that nine is the correct number of gin-soaked raisins to eat each day to relieve the pain of arthritis? Who thought of daubing castor oil on warts to make them disappear?
In most cases, the origins of home remedies are unknown. Somebody somewhere tried a little experiment and found the results helpful. He shared it with friends and neighbors. They in turn passed the word along.
The most important part of a chance discovery is recognizing its value. The famous French scientist Louis Pasteur once said, “chance favors only prepared minds.”
That was certainly the case when Alexander Fleming noticed some bacteria in his laboratory had been ruined by mold. Instead of throwing the experiment out, he investigated the mold and came up with penicillin.
Donald Agar’s discovery may not rank with penicillin, but judging from our email it has made a difference to a lot of people with chronic diarrhea. In November of 1998 we received the following letter from him:
“I have had Crohn’s disease for 40 years, and during that time I have had a never-ending battle with diarrhea. Lomotil helps some, but it doesn’t eliminate the problem. Three months ago, I bought a box of Archway Coconut Macaroon cookies. I’ve been eating two a day and I have not experienced diarrhea in that time. If by chance I eat three in a day, I get constipated. Believe me, I have a new life now.”
Donald’s remedy surprised us, but we offered it in this column so other people could try it. Since then many people have written about their experience with two coconut macaroons against diarrhea. Here is a more recent letter:
“For the past 22 years, I have had Crohn’s Disease, which causes a great deal of discomfort. Most of us look normal but hidden inside is a terrible disease that has definitely changed my life style.
“I have had 2 bowel resections as a result of the disease. I still have bouts with diarrhea. As a result, I have taken Imodium every morning for the past eight years. I honestly laughed at the suggestion that eating two Archway Coconut Macaroons could stop this diarrhea, but a thoughtful co-worker clipped the article out for me. My mother also saved it, so I thought I would give it a try.
“The area grocery stores were out of Archway cookies for a few days. Finally, my wife bought a package and I ate two. To my amazement, I realized immediate, very positive results. The diarrhea stopped and normal functions resumed. In addition, I didn’t experience the cramping I usually get as a result of the disease.
“For the first time in 22 years, I am not taking any prescription medication to control one of the most irritating, embarrassing and uncomfortable effects of Crohn’s disease. I hope the word gets out because no one should have to suffer the discomfort of chronic diarrhea.”
Not everyone will benefit from this simple approach, and people with diverticular disease should avoid such cookies. But because one person was prepared to notice and test the effects of coconut macaroons, many others have benefited.
We have collected a number of other folk treatments in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. We find it fascinating how people stumble across treatments that are affordable and sometimes surprisingly effective with few, if any, side effects. They are delighted to share their discoveries with visitors to our website.
Share your own favorite home remedies in the “What Do You Think” section below. And if you liked Donald Agar’s story, please vote for this post at the top of the article by clicking on the stars.