Way back  when man lived in caves, like Bob the stick thrower, and crafted simple tools of stone, he still looked for spiritual and natural remedies to heal his many ailments. After all, a good HEB Pharmacy was still a few millennium away, and there wasn't much to talk about in the way of local medical care providers either.

But Bob, while crude and simple, wasn't as dense as he looked. It wasn't long before he discovered certain plants and fungus could help him with a host of medical conditions, from stomach aches to topical treatments for wounds and sores. Pretty soon Old Abe the corn grower told Bob that the reason the plants worked to heal him so well was because the plants were a magical part of Mother Earth. Bob was impressed with how much Abe knew, and soon became a follower of his divine philosophy.

By the time Abe's great grandson, Rick the fire starter, reached adulthood, he had learned to question everything, and he often experimented with different plants, different remedies, and furthered the belief there was great magic at work. In fact, he correlated the night sky with the coming of the seasons, and he discovered the effect on the growing plants and crops. He knew there was great art at work in his surrounding environment. Before long Tom the animal tanner learned he could stretch hide across a wooden rim and create a melodic beat that seemed to add mystery and emphasis to the words of Rick, who was getting old by now.

Many seasons came and went and by the time Atlantis sunk into the sea and the land they called Texas blessed the world with abundant resources and majestic beauty, Bob and Abe and Tom and Rick's descendants had learned to harness much of the magic in the herbs of the land, and they had also learned of the inner light of the spirit and how to connect with things that could not quite be seen, but certainly felt. These spiritual guides and medicine men learned great things from the Earth and sky, and soon their fame and notoriety came to be known far and wide.

In the years to come some of these spiritual healers claimed to discover many of the great secrets that were buried in the Earth, and furthered their discipline and became great leaders. Meanwhile, across the ocean another society of men were learning to read and to write and to build cities and ships and discovered a profound need to explore the world and brand it with their own form of religion and belief. In years to come they would discover their own medicines and would further the study of the human anatomy, eventual developing medical journals and crafted surgical procedures that could take a man's heart and replace it with another. We should call these men doctors of the modern world. They have furthered science, have brought great remedies to the world, and continue to grow in their knowledge and craft.

Meanwhile, with the expansion of these explorers and eventul settlers, the descendants of Bob and Abe became fewer. So often persecuted, they fled from the rush of civilization and took refuge in the mountains and the deserts until eventually there was no place else to hide. Today they are but remnants among us, and much of their art and science is lost.

But alas! Small tidbits of their great knowledge still lingers, and among the more simple folk of the near past and the modern world, there are still herbal remedies known. Through our research and with the assistance of our readers, we have collected a number of traditional remedies that are no doubt rooted in the ancient art of medicine. We offer them to you as historical information only and do not recommend you try them for yourself. We make no claim to knowledge of whether any of these remedies work or not, or whether they are dangerous or not. We do not know. What we do know is these traditional herbs are still revered and used by many, especially the Native American and older Hispanic communities of the Southwest.

ALAMO, or Cottonwood Tree
A certain variety of the Alamo tree has been used since prehistoric times to relieve pain and inflammation and to reduce fevers and water retention. The bark of the tree contains properties that convert in the body into a substance that closely resembles synthetic aspirin. A bitter tea made from the bark is taken for pain. A poultice of Alamo and comfier root is said to be a reliable remedy for sore muscles and arthritis.

 ALEGRIA (Amaranth)
The dried flowers of the red Alegria are used primarily as an astringent. Steeping the flower caps in hot water and drinking the tea is said to be good for stomach ailments, including diarrhea.

ALHUSEMA (Lavender)
Most often used as a mild stomach tonic for infant colic, the sedative effect of the herb provides relief for adults with migraine headaches or with trouble sleeping. Chest congestion is often treated by making a tea and soaking a rag in it, then placing it on the chest.

Certain varieties of this Southwestern shrub is highly pungent. A cold tea is made of the smelly sagebrush and drunk as a stomach bitter. Native Americans use the herb regularly in their sweat lodges to cleanse their bodies by excreting wastes and toxins through the skin.

LANTEN (Broad Leaf Plantain)
Lanten is often used in the treatment of bee stings, rashes and skin irritations. Many Native American tribes use it as a poultice for wounds and even snakebite.

One of the best known and widely used herbs in Native American and Hispanic populations, Osha root is a potent medicine often used for sore throats and gum irritations. A tea of the boiled root helps to combat viral colds and flu. Osha has also long been considered a powerful talisman to ward off snakes, evil spirits and curses.

Yerba Santa is used in general for all lung disorders. The leaves are either boiled or smoked for treatment of bronchitis, laryngitis, and sore throat. A tea of the herb is effective when bladder or urinary tract infections are present.

These are but a few of the herbal remedies we have stumbled upon. Watch for more on this subject in issues ahead.

But wait! Many of might be wondering where you pick up a supply of Yerba Santa or find just the right kind of cottonwood tree to use as prescribed above. Well, there's the catch. A few of these herbs you may find available at larger herbal and health stores, like Whole Foods Markets. Be careful that the product you are buying is as fresh as possible, and authentic.  Otherwise, progress to the section below about modern home remedies. But be warned, these remedies may sound even stranger than the ones listed above, and we certainly don't endorse any of them. We acquired most of these from readers or from other Internet portals. We tried to research them for you, but whether to believe in them or not is a decision that belongs only to you. With that warning in mind, here go:

Cold Sore Cure
Marge writes: Apply an ice cube at the first sign of a cold sore or fever blister. Stops it in its track! The outbreak is minimal and they seem to be less frequent over time. Apply off and on for about 15 minutes, for a few minutes each time. The trick is to get the ice to it quickly when you first notice it coming on.

For a Fever
Misty writes: When a child has a high fever, chop up onions, put them on the child's feet and then cover with socks. Kinda smelly, yes, but it works. My grandmother swore by it, and when my 9 year old daughter recently ran a fever of 103, I did this, and her fever broke in an hour, and did not return.

Calm Constipation
Donna writes: When I was younger I suffered from severe constipation. My pediatrician told my mom to put a teaspoon of Karo syrup (white not brown) in a bottle of warm milk. It relieved the constipation every time.

For Menstrual Cramps
A writer says: For those monthly cramps, I've found that sucking on a ginger candy (the ones made with real ginger) can help reduce the pains. Safe, easy, and legal.

Make Gas Go Away
Don Johnson (not the movie star) writes: For indigestion or gas, a tablespoon of baking soda in a glass of lukewarm water works better than any antacid I've ever tried. It's gross, but it's worth the wincing at the taste.

Help Hiccups
Jim Knowles says: Try a spoonful of vinegar or lemon juice. It works for me every time.

For Bee Sting Pains
Take the sting out of a bee sting with a dab of toothpaste on the area. Works instantly, but keep the tube of toothpaste handy, so you can apply another dab if it starts to hurt again.

Cut Coughing
A writer says: I have no idea why this works, but everyone I know swears by this: Whenever you have a persistent cough, rub generous amount of Vick's VapoRub on your feet, then cover with socks. The cough is gone almost immediately. This works especially well at night. I just got over pneumonia about a week ago, and this worked for my cough better than the cough medicine I was taking.

Stop Sinus Pain
When sinus pain won't go away, try a teaspoon of regular table salt in 6 ounces of warm water. Breathe it in through your nostrils. The salt dissolves any mucous buildup. (Ever put salt on a slug? Same thing happens with built up mucous in your nasal passages.)

Banish Headaches
To relieve a headache, soak your feet in a basin of warm water at the same time apply a cold compress to your head. It really works! Or, Gatorade has electrolytes magnesium and potassium and are necessary for the control of blood pressure which is effected by headaches and vice versa. Try it for minor headaches due to weather changes and every day stress factors.

Beat Breakouts
Jessica says: Plagued by boils and acne, I found eating broccoli helps get rid of it almost over night (especially if you do this right away after a break out occurs!). Also vitamins with lot's of "B" does the trick too!

Another writes: For my rare acne outbreaks I resort to hemorrhoid cream (new tube, mind you). It relieves the irritation/soreness and the blemish is gone within a couple days (sometimes overnight).

Yet another writes: Honey works wonders on acne, put a little dab on the pimple and cover overnight with a bandage, wake up the next day pimple free.

And another: If you have a pimple or a boil that needs to come to a head try this. Crack open a raw egg and gently remove the membrane from the shell. Quickly (before it dries out) lay it over the top of the boil or pimple and the next morning it will be ready to open (sometimes it is already open) with much less pain.

Soothe Rash Pains
For poison oak try a soak in a warm bath laced with apple vinegar.

For Baby's Comfort
Lori says: My family uses Bag Balm for diaper rash. Any Tractor Supply will have it and it wipes off easily and moisturizes. Works great for cuts and scrapes and is great for dry skin.

For Pain Down Below
Minnie writes: To relieve hemorrhoid pain apply a generous amount of "Vicks" salve. (Menthol salve of any brand will work but I like Vicks) It feels great. It may burn a little at first but in seconds you begin to feel cool RELIEF. My mother told me to do this. I was reluctant, but desperation won! I am so glad I listened.

Home Cures for Burns
In the good old days just plain tea bags would and still do to soothe a sunburn. Make a cup of tea, drink the tea and use the tea bag on the burn. Or try soy sauce. Yes, no scars and a quick heal, also, fast pain relief!

Granny writes: I burned my thumb taking something out of the oven and my grandmom scraped a peeled potato and placed it where the burn was. No blister no redness no pain after a while.

James says: For sunburns, put honey on the burned area. As it pulls the fever from the skin it will turn to water. Keep applying until it stops turning to water. It prevents blistering.

Suzy writes: Use vanilla extract on it a couple of times a day and it will soothe and keep from scaring. Keep doing this until you don't see the scar anymore. Use this for any kind of burn.

Soothe Sore Throat
Drink about a 1/4 cup of pickle juice. Takes the sore throat away immediately. If it is a severe sore throat you may need to repeat this once or twice. Or, for sore throat, gargle about every 45 minutes or so with one tablespoon of clear Karo corn syrup dissolved in glass of warm tap water. Or you can try using a tablespoon of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 honey. It is said the vinegar will kill the infection and the honey will soothe your throat.

Whether any of these work or not, most are harmless to try. But use your better judgment. And good luck.