How to Restore Your Health With Food. Estonian Tips #folkmedicine

Estonian climate should be perfect, we have four season. But, as we use to say, we have  in real life 9 months of the “bad skiing weather”… so. runny nose and cough are usual and normal..

We use a lot of herbs, you can find tips from my blog. But food is also very important to restore health.

Just so you know, most of these methods are not scientifically proven so try them out at your own risk 🙂  I’m still alive and kind of healthy… maybe it was my faith that helped me? 🙂

When I was a teenager my constant diagnose to everything used to be ’’a major respiratory disease”, therefore I have quite a few tips for you whenever img_20180819_132654

you feel like you’re starting to get sick:

Classic recommendations are usually to sleep a lot, drink lots of water and wash your hands as often as possible. But there are few more things to try.

Your goal is to boost your blood flow and digestion in order to ‘’sweat the sickness out’’. The safest choice is probably a sauna.

Estonian Black Rye Bread


You might think that if it isn’t some deadly disease it’s not worth your time to take action…- wrong! My family believes in garlic and its ‘’superpowers’’. Nb! We are talking about real strong garlic, not some mild Chinese… 🙂

Some people put it in their nose or pillow BUT… being sick gives you a wonderful excuse to enjoy some garlic bread with lots of dip sauce. Also, feel free to try a combination of cheese, garlic and mayo on a slice of black bread.

You can make a healthy salad with beet and garlic. I always find those cooking shows where everybody faints when they see raw garlic so hilarious … I mean baked garlic doesn’t even have any taste or health benefits.

Vodka helps. Or any other strong liquor.  In Estonia we have a saying: if there is not death disease vodka helps..
It makes you hot inside and numbs the pain but you need to treat it like a medication, so – bottoms up!

A common treatment in our family was a mustard foot bath. Just pour some hot water (not too hot) on mustard powder and hold your feet in the mix. Mustard compresses and band-aids are also proven to be helpful. A good alternative is goose grease. When applying it on your back and chest can help to keep your bronchus warm and increase the blood flow. At least, I think it’s suppose to work this way 🙂

My mother’s favorite way to treat cough was with soda steam. Nowadays we have all these modern inhalers but back in the day we would just boil water with a spoonful of soda. A child needing treatment was standing next to the soda pot wearing a towel on her head so that the hot steam couldn’t escape. If mum didn’t feel like messing with soda she would just let us breath the steam coming from boiling potatoes and it worked equally well. Just be careful when you decide to try it out. Don’t leave children unattended near the boiling water!

Estonian Sauerkraut. Hapukapsas

If your throat is sensitive from coughing go ahead and take a spoonful of honey.

I know that lot of Estonians used herring to treat angina. In my family we used less extreme solutions. But I can share this tip :

salted herring should be taken (if there is fillet, then OK). Put on a piece of gauze and heat slightly in the fryer or above boiling water.
If the herring is warm, then put it close to the neck . Still have a food wrap film/plastic bag and towel to keep it warm.
Especially effective for angina.

In case of a fever
My father, who was also a doctor, was never concerned about a 38 Celsius degree fever.
I also found that a fever is something that helps to fight with the sickness and you shouldn’t worry about it too much. You shouldn’t push your sick kid to eat because human body knows exactly when is the right moment to start eating again.
When your temperature rises be sure to cool it down. You can use vodka to rub your skin for example (NB! If you’re putting it on a child mix vodka with water)

There are other ways to lower the fever: raspberries and blackcurrants. Before the freezer was invented (*cough*), parents would put these berries or pedicles in teas for their sick children to drink. I didn’t torture my daughter with this tea I just gave her some frozen berries to snack on.

A couple of years ago people were talking about Superfruits that were full of vitamins and antioxidants and help you strengthen your immune system. Estonia is rich in those ‘’fruits’’: rosehip, seaberry, cranberry, blackcurrant

My father’s vitamin mix: seaberries + blackcurrants + honey.

Gastrointestinal disorders
I think I’ve had like tons and tons of pumpkin seeds which apparently helps to avoid cestodes. I don’t know if they worked or not but I never got any cestodes and these seeds are so delicious!

Something to eat/drink to relieve constipation
My parents believed in black dried plums and blueberries. My mother used plums or blueberries to make custard which with some whipped cream tasted like heaven. All my problem were gone right away 😉

To be quite honest with you I don’t know much about constipation as I experience it rather rarely. There are couple of foods that usually have an impact on me like pâté and xylitol gum.

To treat diarrhea drink lots of (mineral) water, eat salted breadsticks, rice porridge and hard boiled eggs.

Estonians knew what is good for their health. In order to treat the digestive system it was crucial to restore the microflora and add so called good bacteria.
You can obviously buy all types of probiotics and supplements from your local pharmacy but you’ll get everything you need from sauerkraut, pickles (not marinated!), traditional Estonian leavened bread, fermented diary foods, sour cream, plain yogurt, sour milk…

Estonian Quark

When you’re abroad check the labels. Avoid UHT or ESL products, these are thermized and the good bacteria in these products is dead.

Treat tooth ache with either vodka or salty water. Chewing clove helps surprisingly well. But…please go to the dentist though.

And finally some healthy sleep tips.
It is scientifically proven that B-vitamins may help achieve good sleep as they make you more relaxed. So go ahead and drink a cup of warm milk (with honey) before bedtime. On the good side, milk doesn’t make you pee as often as tea does 🙂

Because of B vitamins’ calming effect, the ‘’old Estonians’’ used to give their babies some pieces of bread (from rye and whole wheat) to snack on.

Some ‘’brave’’ parents even added a pinch of poppy seeds…but don’t try this at home, please 🙂


9 thoughts on “How to Restore Your Health With Food. Estonian Tips #folkmedicine

  1. Pingback: How to Restore Your Health With Food. Estonian Tips #folkmedicine — Estonian Cuisine. Eesti Toit. – SEO

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