Shakespeare’s witches, with their "Eye of newt, and toe of frog”, could well have been related to some of our ancient Irish ancestors if some of these remedies are to be believed.

From healing dead hands, hair clippings, ancient feng shui and disgusting drinks and potions, ancient Irish superstitions and remedies were certainly strange.

Here’s our selection of the top ten:

1.    A dead hand

The hand of a corpse was believed to be a cure for all diseases. Sick people would be brought to a house where a corpse was laid out so that the hand could be laid on them.

Similarly, the corner of the sheet used to wrap a corpse was used to cure a headache or a swollen limb.

2.    How to cure burns

The candles used at funerals were also thought to have curative powers. The butts of the candles would be saved to cure burns. Another Irish cure for burns is said to be raw potato.

3.    Minty fresh immunity

A bunch of mint tied around your wrist was thought to cure stomach disorders as well as warding off infection and disease.

4.    Ancient Irish Feng Shui

The Irish believed that a sick person’s bed should face north to south and never east to west.

5.    Graveyard cure

Nettles gathered from a churchyard and boiled down were believed to cure water retention when boiled down into a drink.

6.    Curative nature of the sea

The ancient Irish believed that if a person had a fever they should be placed on the shore when the tide is coming in. When the tide retreats it would carry the fever and the disease with it.

7.    Iron ring

 An iron ring worn on the fourth finger would ward off rheumatism.

8.    Fertility remedy

It was thought that the seed of dock leaves (rumex) tied to the left hand of a woman would prevent her from being barren.

9.    Pure blood

They believed that boiled down carrots would purify the blood.

10.    No more fitting

Our ancestors believed that the clippings of the hair and nails of a child tied in linen and placed under the ill person’s bed would cure convulsions.


Originally published in 2011.

Some seriously old-school homeopathic remedies from ancient CeltsGoogle Images