There is something to a lot of folk remedies. Sometimes there’s a good reason you feel better after drinking some herbal tea – if made with willow or wintergreen, the salicylic acid in there will help clear up your headache. That’s how aspirin was discovered : isolated from plants then modified in the lab. We did that in chemistry class once, though if you ate some of the resulting product it was more likely to cause a headache than cure one (perhaps we weren’t very good chemists yet).
So while I am sceptical of a lot of folk remedies and old sayings, some stuff does work, certainly. Just show me the evidence. What makes me laugh is the idea that the more you dilute the active agent, the more powerful it is, and so if you dilute it down to nothing at all, that should be the best way to go, right? Not that you want to go the other way, and concentrate something to toxic levels.
Serendipitously, a test of a particular old wives' tale came along.
I was doing some late laundry yesterday, getting cat barf out of some pillowcases. Not all 6 were barfed on (that would be prodigious !), but I tossed them all in the wash anyway. Out on the clothesline they weren’t dry yet when I went out to water the garden around 10 pm, so I left them out all night.
We had a full moon last night, and a clear dry sky. They say that laundry left out under a full moon will get a ‘coup de lune’, or moonburn (like a lunar equivalent of sunburn) and turn yellow. I have been seriously warned about this.
Six white pillowcases left to suffer moonburn the entire night. How many were yellow in the morning ? None. Not one the least bit yellow. As control fabric, there are the matching sheets that were not put out in the moonlight.