Trope Workshop:Horrendous Home Remedy

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Doctors don't know everything. Some families have cures for anything that ails you, handed down from Uncle Jack or from generation to generation, usually requiring nothing more in ingredients than things one can find around the house -- or, at worst, in a grocery store.

For most families, this is something like a good chicken soup (which has been shown to be Truth in Television.[1])

For some other families, well... the cure might be worse than the disease.

This trope covers any home-brewed/folk "medicine" or remedy that is positively disgusting in appearance, taste and/or ingredients -- and usually all three at once. These remedies don't just taste like feet, they might actually be made with them, with the occasional toe popping to the surface.

Effectiveness has no bearing on this trope -- only the "yuck factor". (Although if they do work as advertised, that's an amusing bonus.) If the remedy or its ingredients don't make you say "oh, hell, no", it doesn't belong here. This can overlap with I Ate What? if it's not immediately obvious what it's made from, whether It Tastes Like Feet or not. And people will take a Horrendous Home Remedy even if it smells or tastes putrescent, because, of course, If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You. (In fact, that may be all the logic that exists behind the choice of ingredients and their preparation.) But don't expect them to be happy when you tell them they just chugged a pint of bat guano and goat urine thoroughly laced with Durian juice, filtered through an old pair of gym socks.

Naturally, this is (usually) a comedy trope.

Super-Trope to the Hideous Hangover Cure. If it's actually effective, it's likely to be an Improbable Antidote to something -- or everything.

Not to be confused with a Radish Cure.

No real life examples, please; some things are better left unknown.

Examples of Horrendous Home Remedy include:

Film

  • In the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap, the bartender hands Elizabeth a mysterious red substance as a Hideous Hangover Cure. Upon consumption she coughs out "I think I just drank tar." What qualifies it for this page is the bartender's claim, "This'll cure anything you've got. Just don't ask what's in it", suggesting that it's not specifically a hangover cure but an all-purpose remedy.

Live-Action TV

  • The title character's family in the South Korean TV show Strong Girl Bong-soon has a guaranteed cure that's been handed down from mother to daughter from time immemorial: "poop liquor" -- an alcoholic beverage made from fermented shit. Amazingly -- or maybe not, given how much Functional Magic there is in the series -- it actually seems to work on everything including physical injuries.
  • Most of Grandmamma's cures on The Addams Family will be this to "normal" people (not to mention possibly poisonous). The Addamses themselves will enjoy them, of course.
  • Played with in one episode of Monk, when Natalie is afraid of a voodoo curse and Monk takes her to a shaman to help her "get rid" of it. The shaman initiates a complicated ritual with a potion made of... questionable ingredients. When she hurries to drink it, the horrified shaman tells her it was supposed to be applied to the skin. Cue rush to the hospital.

Oral Tradition, Myths and Legends

Other Media

Real Life

  • "Tiger Head Bee Wine", an Asian folk remedy made by steeping whole live Asian giant hornets in potato vodka for weeks or months and described as smelling like "rotting flesh", can be found described in American Entomologist Volume 60, Issue 1, Spring 2014, Pages 5–7. It also makes an appearance in the Teraverse story Buzz Kill.
  • Chinese medicine, when it comes to herbal cures you have to boil at home (or boiled and sealed into packets if you can't brew it at home). While the dried plant material that makes up the bulk of it can drive those with allergies insane, the resulting mixture will have your nose and tongue wishing to commit suicide (especially the tongue). There's a reason why a lot of Chinese pharmacies -- or stores hosting a Traditional Chinese Medicine area - will drop in a few sweets in the bag at the register.


  1. It doesn't need to be chicken soup specifically – anything that keeps you hydrated and well-fed improves your ability to get better – but a decent chicken soup is good at doing both those things and is easy to eat.