Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Potatoes used in home remedies

Information culled from the press, 1994-2002:

From The Times, 31 January 1994: Adrian Dickey, who worked in a factory in Bangor, Co Down, had a painful verruca, and sought the aid  of a local ‘faith healer’.  The healer ‘brandished a potato and  ‘advised … that the verruca could be transferred from his foot to the tuber, which should then be wrapped in a paper bag and buried late at night in Irish soil’.  Apparently Dickey was spotted by an army patrol burying the potato near a crossroads outside Hillsborough, the village in which the official residence of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is situated. The soldiers did not believe his story, and ordered him to dig the potato up.  When Dickey produced the potato they accepted that he was innocent, but the verruca ‘still flourishes’.

From Choice, August 1996:  ‘My mother used potato slices for burns and our family never had blisters’ [letter from Walthamstow, London].

From Sunday, the News of the World magazine, 29 March 1998: ‘A drayman who delivered beer to my gran’s pub in World War One helped to cure by abscess by telling my mum to scoop out half a potato and place the hollow over the abscess.  It worked – the abscess burst.  I use this on my husband and son’ [letter from West Yorkshire].

From Sunday, 12 April 1998: ‘Keeping a small (1in) potato in my pocket until it softens cures my sciatica.  In 10-14 days, the pain starts to go. It works!’ [letter from West Sussex].

From the Telegraph, 31 August 2002: ‘Having read the piece about midges … I have this advice: rub the affected area with fresh slices of raw potato or tie a slice on the affected areas’ [letter from Maryport, Cumbria].

Image: Tooting, London Borough of Wandsworth, December 2022.