Mountain Healing: Treating Earaches with Urine

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My city-slicker mother was a Navy brat who spent most of her childhood days in the city of Norfolk, Virginia.  Late in her teenage years, she moved to the coalfields of Southern West Virginia, met my father and in short time, she would find herself married to a West Virginia coalminer with a newborn son at home, living in a land that was completely foreign to anything she had ever known.

She would soon realize that it wasn’t just the landscapes and accents that were different in hills of Appalachia, but also the healing techniques.

According to my mother, I was about one-year-old when I got an earache and so she did what most mothers she grew up watching would do in this situation: She loaded me into the family’s car and drove me to the nearest pediatrician.

While visiting with my father’s West Virginia bred granny who was mountain to the core, my mother casually stated that she had taken me to the doctor due to an ear infection.  The words of my dad’s granny, in response, nearly knocked my mother completely out of her chair: “You should’ve just collected his pee and poured a little bit into his ear… that would’ve worked just as well and saved you a lot of money.”

Even when she left a few hours later, my mother still wasn’t certain that my granny wasn’t just pulling her leg (and no, she never did put urine into my ear… that I’m aware of); however, a handful of years later, while visiting the old mountain woman’s house, one of my cousins was suffering from such an ailment and to my mother’s horror, the women of the house did just this — the child’s urine was somehow collected and a few drops were placed into his ear.

Though mountain folk from previous generation practiced several questionable healthcare traditions, such as flipping newborn babies or rubbing cow manure on a pregnant woman’s breasts… yes, they actually would do this… research shows that they may actually have been on to something with regard to the urine in the ear.

Apparently, multiple doctors and PHDs now claim that there are properties found in urine that may be able to successfully treat several types of ailments, ranging from earaches to foot fungus to acne.

According to medical professionals, mid-stream urine is supposedly the cleanest (and we’re using this term very loosely).

Though I have absolutely no plans to trade in my pharmacy purchased eardrops for urine, it’s interesting to realize that the early settlers of the Appalachian Mountains lived weeks away from the nearest drugstore and were forced to fine home remedies for everything — though these remedies may seem bizarre or disturbing to us, they may very well have saved lives in previous generations.

Like articles like this? Then you would love Appalachian Magazine’s Mountain Superstitions, Ghost Stories & Haint Tales: A Collection of Memories & Commentaries from the Mountains of Appalachia!  Click here to check out the book on Amazon!

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