It’s wild to think that knowledge and information wasn’t as easily and readily available just a few decades ago. Thanks to the internet, it now reaches billions of people on demand, and the world is better off because of it.
Now, old wives’ tales were among the many things that worked before the internet in terms of spreading information. Granted, they were often dubious or even superstitious, but their prevalence was strong.
Well, turns out, not all of it was hogwash as folks on Reddit were recently sharing old wives’ tales that turned out to be true. Thanks, internet!
Gathering herbs by the light of the moon.
Some plants, pollinated by moths, have their most potent oils at night to attract night insects. So if you need it at its strongest, pick it at night.
So, old wives’ tales as a concept originated centuries ago in the form of the oral tradition of storytelling. The whole idea behind old wives’ tales was to teach lessons and make concepts like death or aging easier to understand.
These tales were primarily aimed at children, but once they grew up, it was easy to understand why some grownups began picking them up too.
I can’t believe there are over 400 comments and nobody has mentioned one of the most valuable old wives’ tales: That garlic had medicinal powers for a wide variety of ailments.
When rain is coming, your joints hurt.
I used to roll my eyes and laugh when Granny said her arthritis was acting up because it was going to rain. I was 10 years old.
I’m now 53 and not laughing. Granny 1, me 0
“Doomed is the child who, when kissed on the forehead, tastes salty. He is cursed and will soon die.”
It’s cystic fibrosis. Nowadays, we know that cystic fibrosis is due to a non functional protein that regulates salt transport; when that protein doesn’t work, you get thick, sticky mucus clogging up every membrane… and a whole bunch of salt being pumped onto the skin.
Many diseases existed for a looooooong time before we had the framework to understand them, but our ancestors were paying attention and trying to understand these tragedies through the lenses that they had. And sometimes, that’s how you get an old wives’ tale that is right on the money!
Now, one of the major reasons why old wives’ tales were usually fake was because of the fact that they were most often propagated by illiterate women and communicated to children. If they were trying to scare kids off from a particular behavior, it didn’t have to be true—they just had to stop them from doing something. And it was really hard to fact-check them.
Pregnant women should not be near cat litter. Source: am blind in one eye from toxoplasmosis acquired in utero.
More of an old nurse’s tale, but redheads need more anesthetic. Turns out that there is a linked gene to red hair that increases resistance or metabolism or something to the drug.
At any rate, waking up in the middle of a full colonoscopy sucks. Hearing the doctor say, “Ah, s**t, she’s awake, give her another one…”
And the nurse, all melodramatic as she pushes another syringes worth into your IV, saying to him, “Are you *SURE*, Doctor???” as your eyes slowly close again is especially awesome.
Red sky at night, sailors’ delight
A red sky appears when dust and small particles are trapped in the atmosphere by high pressure. This scatters blue light leaving only red light to give the sky its notable appearance. A red sky at sunset means high pressure is moving in from the west, so therefore the next day will usually be dry and pleasant.
— Met office
As the centuries went by and human progress was ever so surely moving forward, old wives’ tales started getting debunked. One of the biggest oofs out there is the idea people can catch a cold from the cold.
That has since been proven to be false because a cold is caused by an infection, and not the temperature.
Nurses used to put Jaundices babies on window sills until their color returned. No idea how they figured it out but it’s actually a legitimate cure!
Honey as topical medicine. It’s actually used in hospitals now for certain kinds of wound dressings. It’s anti microbial and keeps other s**t from getting in the wound.
A lot of the ones about herbal remedies. You can grow a lot of things that pharmaceutical companies deconstruct and reconstruct to make into pills. Common weeds are edible and good for your health. It’s crazy how much we’ve forgotten about the benefits of plants.
Other cold-related myths include: vaccinations can make you sick (they don’t, it’s a killed virus), heaps of vitamin C will keep away illness (studies can’t prove it), and chicken soup cures colds (nope, wrong again, it’s just comfort food that hydrates you, and perhaps can help ease congestion, but otherwise doesn’t have any specific effect on a viral infection).
Nowadays, old wives’ tales are quite literally a thing of the past and anything can be proven or disproven in just a few moments online without having to rely on dubious maiden wisdom.
However, the fact that something is an old wives’ tale doesn’t mean it’s automatically fake. This listicle is proof of it.
Drinking gelatin to up amniotic fluid during pregnancy.
They wanted to schedule a c-section at 32 weeks for my kid, due to low amniotic fluid. My friends midwife told me to mix gelatin packets into apple juice and drink it before it started to thicken.. 3x a day. Brought my levels up from a 3 to an 8.. and managed to keep the kid baking for another 4 weeks.. she was born at 36 weeks, weighing 4lbs 3oz.. so, the gods only know how tiny she would have been at 32 weeks..
She was discharged with me three days later, at 4lbs 1oz.. perfectly healthy, besides being as tiny as a doll.. and she didn’t wear clothes for four months because I was terrified of breaking her..
But, yeah, I *never* thought it would work..
A while back, scientists set out to prove false the old wives tale that if a pregnant woman has lots of of heartburn, her baby will be born with a thick head of hair. Except…they ended up doing the opposite. Turns out heartburn really is associated with a baby having lots of hair:
For example, older folks experience joint pain right before rain because the barometric pressure tends to decrease, which in turn might make the muscles, tendons and other tissue around joints expand and put more pressure on the joints. Hence the pain.
My mom had what she called an old Indian trick and was able to predict if it was going to rain within 30 minutes.
In college I learned that is it got closer to raining leaves would cup to catch the water and when my mom would go outside and look at the tree leaves she could like look and see if they were cupping and she would be able to predict if it was going to rain.
People can smell illness (at least in babies). I cant link a paper because I’m busy proving it! So far in my research people can smell the difference between a well baby vs a poorly baby
My grandmother always insisted that a new mom in the family get up and walk as soon after delivery as possible. Said if you stay in the bed alot after giving birth your hips would spread and stay that way. Turns out the hormone changes during childbirth cause your cartilage to become flexible so your hips can widen some. It wears off fast though so if you stay in the bed for days, like they did back in the day, your cartilage hardens back up spread out. When you walk your center of gravity is in your pelvis and pushes it back together. I’ve never seen a medical study on it but none of the women in my family have wider hips after having kids.
Another cool trick is to rub ammonia onto a mosquito bite to stop it from itching. The idea lies in the ammonia solution equalizing the counter pH of the itching caused by the bite.
Beer makes breast milk drop. I had never heard of this before giving birth, and a couple people had asked me while pregnant if I had my beer lined up for after I gave birth and just laughed it off. A few days after giving birth my milk still wasn’t coming in and at the pediatrician, she said, “Listen it’s an old wives tale but I swear by it, drink a beer. Preferably non alcoholic because you just need the hops.” After the appointment I grabbed a case of Heineken 0 chugged two and within hours we were breastfeeding. I now give Heineken 0 as a gift to expectant moms.
If you ever feel dehydrated get a pinch of salt put it in your water and add lemon (no sugar) and just drink. It helps.
Letting a baby eat after you will cause them to get cavities. When my sister told us not to let my nephew eat something we’ve taken a bite out of, I thought she was full of s**t. It turns out adults really can transfer cavity causing bacteria to babies.
Since it’s easy to fall prey to a fake kind of thinking, then the same tricks that apply to identifying fake news also apply to old wives’ tales:
Always check the source because if it looks fake or it has a dubious reputation, its content is probably fake too. It also helps to run the information against a quick Google search to see if others confirm it.
Looking at something too close (like the TV) for too long will strain your eyes.
You need to exercise your long distance focusing muscles to prevent myopia. If you always look at things close up, you can develop it. Studies show that myopia is more often linked with behavior and environment rather than genetics.
Ammonia on a mosquito bite.
Dab a bit of ammonia on it, and don’t touch it, count to 120 seconds, and the bite is ‘gone’ (inflammation etc).
When I first heard of it, I didn’t believe it. Now, just a touch of kitchen ammonia and don’t scratch and it’s beyond gone. Completely.
If anything, be skeptical of everything you hear and ask yourself how and why? The more you try to ask and answer these questions, the more likely you’ll find reason to deem something false or true.
In other words, deem it fake until proven true.
You really don’t want to touch that frozen metal pole with your tongue.
Note: this post originally had 50 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.
So, have you heard any old wives’ tales lately that you were mind-blown to learn are actually real? Why not share yours in the comment section below!
And if you need a fix of more tales, be sure to check out the original Reddit thread.