The Dirt Cure for a Winter Cough


Natural Cough Remedy

In 1849, a farmer prescribed a “dirt cure” that was said to be a miracle cure for any winter cough. Janice Stillman, editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, demonstrates this natural remedy. (Warning: Humor required!) 

The remedy goes something like this:

“On a frigid day—one that’s as cold as the north side of a gravestone in winter—find a piece of land with some blueberry or other small shrubs growing on it. When that land is covered with about a foot of snow, but before the ground is frozen solid, get out there with a shovel and clear off some of that snow. 

Pull out any bushes, clear out any rocks, and dig down deep with your fingers and pull up some of that fresh, pure earth. Bring it up to your face with your mouth open and breathe in that fragrant aroma. Do this for about a quarter of an acre and you’ll feel hail and strong and your cough will be gone.”

Now, whether this is an actual cough cure or simply a way to get one’s field plowed and ready for spring, we cannot say. However, we do know that it will get your blood moving on a cold day!

→ See more home remedies for cough relief.

About The Author

Carol Connare

As the 14th editor of The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Carol Connare works with writers and other editors to develop “new, useful, and entertaining matter” for the annual Almanac as well as books, calendars, and other publications. Read More from Carol Connare

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GC (not verified)

1 year 5 months ago

If you seriously want to put a dent in colds, at the first sign of one use a multimodal approach as follows: 800-1000 mgs cimetidine, 18 mgs zinc lozenges, 1000 mgs vitamin C, 5000 U vitamin D, 50 mgs DHEA, a capsule of turmeric, 4000 mgs garlic, 2-4 scoops of whey protein, and a pill of melatonin. Take those daily ( the melatonin at night before bedtime) until the symptoms start to abate. Yes, I know the concoctions sound strange, but they all have antiviral/antiinflammatory properties that work well together. ( And don't forget the hot chicken soup - no joke.)

Anne (not verified)

2 years 5 months ago

The soil (hummus) has Beneficial Bacteria; most likley;

Michelle Boucher (not verified)

6 years 5 months ago

At first I was intrigued, then after the third shovel of snow, thought it was a joke. Inhaling the smell of dirt was interesting, but nonsense as a medical or natural cure. Then, you totally lost me at "do this for a quarter of an acre".

Bombshell (not verified)

11 years 4 months ago

its a joke.. they don't really "cure" it.

preacher1981 (not verified)

11 years 4 months ago

it is possible there could be
pro-biotics in the soil or certain fungus that could have made the diff.

farmerboy96 (not verified)

13 years 4 months ago

I'll have to try next winter because right now the ground in my backyard is pretty solid.

Thanks for sharing a “dirty” secret for staying healthy. It sounds like it might be easier to dig in the medicine cabinet instead.