Seven ‘Boererate’ people still swear by today
Many old wives’ tales have come and gone, but these South African ‘boererate’ have stood the test of time, often coming in handy when you’re at your wits’ end.
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With trends leaning toward holistic healing and living a more sustainable life, people tend to look for alternative ways to heal wounds and other ailments. Ice on your forehead for a bleeding nose and a baking soda paste for burn wounds are but two of the many remedies that have been passed down from generation to generation.
According to radio and television personality, Su-An Muller-Marais, who did a lot of research on the topic a couple of years ago, there were some rather strange boererate in the olden days, which might not be so well received among Gen-Zers today. One of those included two or three ticks on toast for a very bad headache or migraine. Still, there are some that stood the test of time and even some modern boererate which many people swear by.
There are also certain products and ingredients that seem to have special properties that make them popular go-to options for various ailments – easy alternatives to over-the-counter medicines. Some of these include Rooibos tea, English salt and baking soda. Not to mention herbs like sage, which is said to enhance cognitive function, rosemary which apparently helps to inhibit formation of free radicals, mint which helps with nausea and basil with its anti-bacterial properties.
Over the years, Rooibos has become synonymous with various remedies. According to the SA Rooibos Council, there are many ways in which this unique tea can be used. Apart from the aromatic cup of tea you indulge in daily, you can also use it to rinse an itchy scalp or a scalp with eczema. You can run a bath with Rooibos when you suffer from sunburn or rinse your eyes with the tea when you have itchy eyes or a mild eye infection. Add Rooibos to a spray bottle and apply it to eczema or rashes throughout the day, and when you’re tired and have puffy eyes, cooled Rooibos bags on your eyes will do wonders. There are even Rooibos boererate for pets. Wipe your dog’s infected eyes with cotton wool soaked in Rooibos and if your pets have sensitive skin, rinse them with Rooibos after they’ve been bathed.
South Africa’s herb queen, Antoinette Pienaar, is known for sharing her incredible herb knowledge and boererate on RSG’s Kruie Kraai Koning and VIA’s Kruitjie Roer My. She learned about herbal healing after almost dying from cerebral malaria. Upon meeting the Karoo-based Oom (uncle) Johannes Willemse, she experienced complete healing and since then, the two of them have been instrumental in preserving the Karoo’s herbal heritage. Oom Johannes’ knowledge on herbal boererate comes from his grandfather, Hansie.
Pienaar’s advice for restless legs almost caused a potato revolution in South Africa. She suggested putting a potato in your bed when you go to sleep and since then, people have been swearing by it, with some even naming their in-bed potatoes!
Rachie van Rensburg-Badenhorst says she has been suffering from pain due to osteoarthritis and was given the advice to drink a mixture of raw ginger, raw turmeric, and a bit of cayenne pepper. She makes the mixture like she would make tea and sometimes even adds green tea to the mixture, which she then drinks on an empty stomach every morning.
“I don’t know if I am imagining things, but it helps for the pain,” she says. “It really helps for the inflammation caused by arthritis.”
Antoinette Burger says castor oil helps to lessen carpal tunnel pain. Her husband puts the oil on cloths which he binds around his hands and joints when he goes to bed.
Muller-Marais swears by eucalyptus oil. She says when nothing else seemed to work when she was very ill with the flu, the one thing that helped instantly was to take in a few drops of eucalyptus oil.
She also mixes eucalyptus oil with cream and applies it to a sore throat, or she puts a few drops in her bath when she starts feeling the slightest hint of a cold.
A more modern take on boererate for breastfeeding has been doing the rounds: Milk stout for the stimulation of milk production. Muller-Marais says she can vouch that this one really works. That, and bubbly – something she learned from her husband’s grandmother. “I can swear it has increased my breastmilk supply.”
One of Pienaar’s haemorrhoid boererate – an ointment – is said to work wonders. Mix one jar of Vaseline and one bottle Haarlemensis well and apply it often.
She claims Kaneelbol works best for haemorrhoids. As it doesn’t work as quickly as over-the-counter medicines, the idea is to use it as preventative measure rather than a cure if you know you are prone to haemorrhoids.
“Take a teaspoon Kaneelbol, put it in a glass bowl, pour a litre of boiling water on it, let it cool and decant in a glass bottle (complete with pieces). Drink a quarter cup three times a day. When it’s finished, wait three days, and make another litre. Continue doing this for three months,” she suggests.
According to *Catharina Smith, her mother used to have a boereraat that worked wonders for constipation. The moment her children complained about feeling constipated, she made suppositories from a Sunlight soap bar and mere moments later, the constipation was cured.
Pienaar says: “When one listens to the list of complaints people have about their digestive systems, it looks as if modern life with its many challenges is difficult to digest.”
Apart from Daniel Reid’s cabbage recipe which feeds the good bacteria in your digestive system, her boererate also suggest that one uses natural supplements that can be easily digested.
Etta Peyper says her late doctor from Aliwal North, Dr Haward, had a special recipe for children feeling nauseous:
Once cooled, drink one tablespoon every 15 – 30 minutes.
Whether it is the history behind these boererate or the holistic way of healing that sparks your curiosity, one thing is certain: There is a reason why people still swear by certain remedies and ointments today.
*Name was changed to protect the identity of the source.
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