APART from lending a shoulder to cry on in bad times or spoiling us with our favourite foods, grandmothers are also a font of knowledge with words of wisdom to offer for every occasion.
Perfected over centuries and passed down through the generations, don’t just dismiss the sometimes frankly, bizarre homemade remedies as non-scientific.
Sometimes they actually work!
The Olive Press has collected 10 of the most well-known tips from Spanish abuelas.
Cure for tummy troubles
One of the simplest and most effective remedies for a bad stomach is homemade lemonade .
Mix water, lemon juice, a pinch of salt, a pinch of baking soda, and a little sugar to sweeten it.
This mixture is proven to replenish fluids and minerals lost when we have a bad stomach and can prevent dehydration.
Bananas are the most potassium-rich fruit par excellence, and Spanish grandmothers know it. This is what an abuela will advise for cramps.
Rafa Nadal – winner of 21 Grand Slams – is famously seen snacking on a banana mid-match, something we’re guessing his abuela wholeheartedly approved of.
How to remove ink stains
Ink stains on any fabric are usually difficult to remove… although not for Spanish grandmothers.
All you need is milk. Yes… milk. Soak the stained garment stand in a container of milk for at least 60 minutes. Then rinse and wash the piece of clothing as usual.
We’ve all suffered long summer nights being plagued by mosquitos.
Spanish grandmothers know best which essential oils to use to repel mosquitoes; citronella, eucalyptus, basil or lavender.
Mix drops of essential oil with your body moisturizer – whichever you prefer based on the smell you like best – and you can be sure to enjoy a mosquito free night.
There once was a time when hairsprays and hair gels weren’t widely available, or heaven forbid, hadn’t yet been invented. But Grannies had their own trick to keeping unruly hair in place.
Lemon and sugar are two natural ingredients that are both easy to obtain and are pretty good at taming the barnet.
Just squeeze a lemon and pour its juice into a spray bottle.
But be warned: A perfect trick to use at night, be careful of adding lemon during the day as combined with the sun’s rays it can have a bleaching effect and lighten the hair.
The second option is to fill a glass with hot water and dissolve three to four tablespoons of sugar in it, depending on how strong you want your homemade hair gel to be. Once it has cooled you can put it on your hair.
Canker sores or mouth ulcers are always quite uncomfortable, sometimes even painful.
Although they usually disappear on their own within a few days, grandmothers have a trick to speed up the process.
Dissolve a spoonful of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle with it. To be effective one should repeat the process three times a day.
Every time you mention a sore throat in front of a Spanish grandmother, she will always advise you to ‘wear a pañuelito‘, asking you to take care of your throat by covering it with a light scarf.
As banal as it may seem, with the throat warm and covered, the discomfort will cease a little and prevent it from worsening.
Stye on the eye
This is one of the most bizarre home remedies but there are Grannies who will swear it worls.
Rub a gold ring between your palms until it is warm and then place it on the infected eye for several seconds.
It’s actually the heat that proves healing rather than the secret qualities of the precious metal, so if you don’t have a gold ring to hand, a damp cloth warmed in hot water will likely prove just as effective (just don’t tell Abuela!).
Burns are one of most common domestic accidents. If it’s a mild burn then salt is the grandmother’s secret potion.
First, soak the wound under lukewarm water for a few seconds and then sprinkle the area with sea salt, but do not rub it in. Leave the mixture to act for a few minutes and then rinse with water.
However, if it’s a more severe burn, the salt could worsen the wound.
To lighten the hair in a nourishing and natural way without resorting to damaging bleach, grandmother’s advise using chamomile.
Boil a cup of water with between two to five bags of chamomile tea, depending on how strong you want the result.
Leave the tea to cool completely then apply it to the hair using a spray bottle.
Leave it to act for about 30 minutes using a shower cap if desired to enhance the effects and then rinse the hair.
It is quite effective, although bear it works better the fairer the hair to start with, as it could cause an orange tone with dark hair.
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