There is great wisdom in the centuries-old belief that everything we need to heal and heal ourselves can come from the natural world around us and from many Greek grandmothers (γιαγιάδες) [yiayiathes]) have lived according to this concept of independence and self-compatibility in the toughest of times.

It is no coincidence that Greek remains the lingua franca of modern medicine. Great medical times like Theofrastos ” Investigation of Plants ” and Dioscorides ” De Materia Medica ”, to name a few, were translated into Latin and Arabic so that this knowledge would not be lost.

Indeed, Aristophanes has seasoned some of his pieces with practical herbal remedies recipes to pass the knowledge of the elite to the common people.

So let’s take a look at some of the most common and unusual natural remedies that wise γιαγι .δες have been practicing across the country for millennia and to this day.


Suck out the pain

One of the most common “Yiatrosophia tis yiayias” is the use of Ventouzen, known in English as Cupping Therapy.

This has been practiced across Greece for millennia (and is also a popular ancient Chinese treatment).

The practice became known again after the Supreme The Olympian Michael Phelps was discovered with purple cupping marks on his body at swimming events; he later claimed cupping was an integral part of his recovery program.

Gwyneth Paltrow also made headlines a few years ago about the red circles on her back – likely a treatment from one of her holistic doctors like Vicky Vlachonis.

Traditionally, Vendouzen are still widely used to improve blood circulation, stimulate the lymphatic system, remove toxins from the body, relieve rheumatic, arthritic and periodic pain, and cleanse the airways, especially for coughs, asthma and colds.


To breathe!

When a cough starts to get harsh and the runny nose is too strong, one of the grandmother’s home remedies (which can also be enjoyed just for pleasure) is “rakomelo”.

This is a hot brew made from raki warmed with cloves (which soothe respiratory tract infections and reduce inflammation) and antibacterial, antiviral cinnamon with a thick drop of antioxidant, antibacterial honey.

While this potent concoction is designed to relieve even the most severe colds, too much of this easy-to-drink potion can lead to another disease that is common to some … the dreaded hangover, so be careful!

Perhaps it is safer to rub alcohol on your chest, back, and feet. These are all popular rituals performed in villages across the country to treat bad colds, pain, and discomfort.

Greek yiayia remedies

Salt milk, anyone?

For a slightly more dubious treatment for fever, some yiayias would suggest a soothing 15-20 minute foot bath.

The catch? It consists of warm milk sprinkled with thick salt.

After soaking, one should wipe one’s legs well, put on a thick pair of socks and lie down to rest. It sounds a bit strange, but at least it seems pretty painless.


Just hit

On the other hand, there is the practice of beating yourself with nettles. This remedy is prescribed by Yiayiades in some villages, possibly to cure her husband’s wondering eyes or the kaffenion habit after work, but most common for arthritis and various skin conditions.

When nettles are coated on the affected areas, since the plant contains natural antihistamines and anti-inflammatory elements, it is believed that the sting on the leaves will help them penetrate the body, relieving symptoms.

Don’t worry about those of you who want to try the therapeutic properties of nettles. Self-flagellation is not the only way.

Making yourself a mug of vitamins that is rich in minerals can offer many benefits – Yiayia knew a thing or two when she made this steamy green concoction.

Whether for treating inflammatory arthritis, hay fever, urinary tract infections, lowering blood pressure or a whole host of other benefits – growing scientific knowledge can be found on the grandma’s side.

Greek chamomilechamomile

The gold of nature

Chamomile tea is a panacea that Grandma can use for everything too – to calm the nervous system, induce sleep, reduce indigestion or gas, or even relieve eye infections (cotton wool dipped in chilled tea and resting on the eyes).

Yiayia best remedies

There’s a lot more, of course – chicken soup, which is considered a “natural antibiotic” with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients (celery has been shown to reduce fever, lemon is antiviral and antibacterial) or treating ear infections by warming olive oil and dipping cotton wool which is then applied put in the ear at bedtime, or with a daily spoonful of olive oil or mournelaio, cod liver oil for bone and blood health.

Basically, the evidence shows that γιαγιάδες really knows best when it comes to doctor-free health needs!

* More about GCT: Students in Thessaloniki “adopt” a Pappou and Yiayia from the local nursing home

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