Cure Your Cold With Vinegar Socks – Romanian Home Remedies

Fresh parsley from this Romanian garden soothed the pain of a wasp sting. Photo: Sarah Sibert

Although one of my dreams is to travel the world to visit exotic herb gardens and explore herbal remedies from far-flung locales, I’ve only had a few chances to do so thus far. That’s why I got excited when one of my new international blogging buddies wrote me a note about an unusual remedy she’d used while visiting her partner’s family in Romania.

Sarah Sibert lives in the UK – but she’s been conducting a love affair with the country of Romania every since she was a young child. And now her life partner is Victor, a Romanian. They have plans to move there within the next few years.

If you’ve got dreams of making a move abroad – especially if it’s somewhere in Europe – you will definitely want to check out Sarah’s blog, Move Me Abroad. And if you’re an aspiring blogger yourself, or looking to build a web site, you might want to take a peek at her web development services over at

Sarah and I exchanged a few emails about her experiences with Romanian herbal remedies, and I thought it would be fun to interview her for a post about some home remedies that many of us may have never heard of.

I hope you enjoy learning about these remedies as much as I did. I know that I, for one, am going to try stuffing my socks with vinegar next time I’m feeling those funky flu symptoms!


Horse and cart is a common mode of transport in smaller Romanian towns. Photo courtesy Sarah Sibert

WTNW: While you were visiting Romania, you mentioned you beat the flu by putting vinegar in your socks! How did you find out about this remedy, and how exactly did you do it?

Sarah S: Well, I was feeling pretty rotten all of a sudden (it was well into the 30s temperature-wise so it was a bit strange) and had all the early symptoms of flu – aches and pains, high temperature etc.   So, I went to lie down inside and Victor must have told his sister and his mum because his sister came in to see me and started to rub vinegar on my arms, quite hard too (the next day I had a bruise from where she was doing it!) and she also put some on my forehead.

Then afterwards his mum came in and she had soaked some socks in vinegar (I think it must have been white wine vinegar) and put those on my feet.  I had them on for a few hours, they didn’t feel or smell great but I didn’t want to cause a fuss because not only did I feel terrible but I can’t speak Romanian and they were being very kind!

WTNW: Were your flu symptoms completely eliminated after doing this protocol?

Sarah S: The next day I was 100 percent better. I was a bit stiff but that was probably the heat and the fact that I should have drank more water.  But, my temperature had disappeared and the aches in my bones had gone too.

WTNW:  You also had the bad luck to suffer a wasp sting during your visit. What was the remedy for that, and how did it work?

Sarah S: Yes, that was a bit silly of me.  We’d only just arrived and decided to walk to the shops, a friend called Victor over and I didn’t see the wasps hanging around the fruit tree.  One stung me as soon as I went near the tree and Victor and his sister immediately took me back home (which was just around the corner luckily) and quickly made up some parsley and salt mixture. The parsley was fresh out of the garden. They rubbed this on the bite and the next day there was nothing, no pain, no marks, and no lumps, all gone!

WTNW: You mentioned that St. John’s wort grows prolifically over there and that you collected it by the side of the road. What is it used for in Romania? Do people use that herb very often in the UK?

Sarah S: This happened in Portugal, where Victor and I were living when we met.  He had stomach problems and insisted we went to find some pojarnița. I hadn’t got a clue what he was talking about but after a quick search on the internet I realised he meant St. John’s Wort.  Now I was brought up in the UK during the ‘80s so it wasn’t normal for us to find herbal remedies by the side of the road.  I didn’t even know what it looked like! Still, Victor was used to finding and using it.  So we drove out for a bit and sure enough we found loads growing on the road into the mountains.

After a quick check on the Internet I found that it is actually used for depression and I know you can buy it in the UK easily enough (in packets of course). I’ve never heard of using it for stomach problems but that seems to be quite common in the part of Romania Victor is from.

WTNW: What about the hot wine remedy? This is another cure for a cold?

Sarah S: In winter Victor cooks up some hot wine on the hob/stove (I think any red wine will do, it doesn’t have to be any particular sort). He adds cinnamon and pepper and then after heating it up he drinks it. It tastes pretty hot (as in spicy) but you get used to it and I can understand why he uses it to clear colds!!

WTNW: What are some of your UK family’s favorite (and unusual) home remedies?

Sarah S:  The only remedy I have used from my childhood is when I have a cold.  I loathe the Lemsip type powders you can buy in shops; they just taste of chemicals to me.  Instead, I juice a lemon, add a spoon of honey (depends on your taste) and then mix that up with some hot water. This tastes wonderful and is great for colds. The honey soothes your throat and both honey and lemon have antiseptic properties which help the cold.

WTNW: Did Victor use many traditional remedies while he was growing up in Romania? Are there any that he still turns to?

Sarah S: Apart from the ones I’ve mentioned the only other one I have come across so far is chamomile tea.  He uses this not for drinking (which I do before I go to bed to help me sleep) but for skin conditions.  Basically it dries the skin so if you have a skin condition which makes your skin weep (or similar) then if you put camomile tea on it it will dry the skin so it can heal better.  I have tried it and it certainly did help!

WTNW: Tell me a little about yourself and background.

Sarah S: Well, I guess the simple answer is that I’m from England but I lived in Portugal for 4 years where I met Victor who is Romanian. I went to Portugal to have a more chilled-out life, he went to find work (there is very little work in Romania and especially the area where he is from). We’re back in the UK now but we hope to move to Romania within a few years.

I guess a more complicated answer is that ever since I was a child and watched the gymnastics on TV I have always supported Romania.  They were always my favourites and I loved watching them.  Just for fun, my sister and I went on holiday there in 1993 (it had only been a democracy for a few years at that point) and it still had some communist feel to it, but I absolutely loved it – the countryside, the scenery, the people, everything.

After that holiday I kept saying that I wanted to go back but never got around to it. I thought about moving there instead of going to Portugal but Portugal was much easier at the time. So, when I met Victor I couldn’t believe it – a real life Romanian!! Totally silly I know but it really does feel like fate that we are together.


How about you? Do you know of any exotic or unusual home remedies, from your own country or elsewhere? Share your favorites in the comments!

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