The idea of natural remedies has suddenly become very popular now. With this increase interested in holistic health, a whole slew of natural remedies have invaded store shelves. Suddenly there are entire aisles dedicate to “natural health” products. I think we’ve jumped the shark a little bit. You don’t need to fill your pantry with specially made natural products or expensive processed oils. Everyday kitchen items can provide some of the most basic remedies. Here’s a quick reference for some common ailments.
Acid Reflux- A glass of milk can soothe a throat that’s sore from acid spillage. Brown rice and white bread can help calm an upset stomach (but not if the reflux is caused by overeating). If the reflux has caused some nausea, look below for recommendations.
Ant Bites, Bug Bites, Bee Stings- Make a simple paste of water and baking soda about the texture of toothpaste and slather it on the bite/sting. Let it sit until it dries. This will help reduce redness, swelling, and itching. Wash off with a moist towel and repeat if needed.
Burns/Sunburns- Aloe vera is the absolute best ointment for minor burns. Your best option is to keep an aloe plant. When aloe is needed simply snip off a leaf of the plant and squeeze out what you need. Note: Do not put anything on an open or blistered burn without seeking medical attention.
Congestion- The first step would be to remove the cause of the congestion, but in the meantime there are things you can do to keep your sinus passages clear.
Sit in a bathroom with the hot water running, or to be more water-friendly, boil a small pot of water on the stove, remove from heat, put a towel over your head and lean over the steam. Be careful not to get too close and injure the delicate skin on the face. This is not a good choice for children.
Hot tea is also a good option. Any tea will do, but peppermint is especially good for clearing a stuffy head. Add some raw honey to help calm any throat soreness that may occur and help prevent allergy symptoms.
A simple sinus massage can also help get mucus flowing. Use your first and second fingers and gently rub in small circles through the eyebrows and over the tops of the cheek bones.
Coughs- Licorice root tea is the absolute best thing I have ever used for a cough. It’s gotten me through colds, bronchitis, even asthma coughs in the winter. It may not taste the best, but it works.
Another good option that is preggo-safe is honey tea. Take a little bit of raw honey and put it in very hot water. Stir until the honey starts to dissolve.
Diarrhea- Maintain hydration with watered down fruit juices, preferably without any added sugars. Eat the BRAT diet until stools return to normal. (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast)
Headache- Massaging the muscles along the back of the neck and the shoulders can help release tension and allow for better blood flow. Massage the sinuses if that is the source of the pain. A cool rag will help drive blood away from an area that hurts (especially good for sinus headaches).
Insomnia– Skip the crazy drugs and warm milk. Chamomile tea is still the best option out there. Brew it extra strong if needed.
A deep relaxing yoga sequence or breathing meditation will be helpful as well. To prevent insomnia, establish a good nighttime routine, avoid caffeine through out the day if possible, and don’t eat or exercise within an hour of your scheduled bedtime. Also, make sure the bed is only for bed activities, not reading, watching television, playing video games etc. and avoid any unnatural light in the bedroom.
Muscle Aches/Menstrual Cramps- Eat a banana and some saltine crackers. Also, make sure you’re getting enough water on a regular basis. If you’re drinking water when you get muscle pain, it’s too late.
A sock filled with rice and warmed in the microwave makes a great heating pad to relax tense muscles.
Red Raspberry Lead tea can help reduce cramps in some women. Start drinking the tea about 1-3 days before your period is expected.
Nausea- Peppermint tea or real ginger ale are best here. Watch out for imitation ginger ale, the bubbles might help some people, but fake ginger doesn’t really do much good. Some people will have better luck with peppermint or ginger hard candies. This is especially true for morning sickness!
A BRAT diet can also be helpful for recovering after a bout of vomitting. Another post-heave tip: start an empty stomach with apple juice not water. Water can upset the acidity of a delicate stomach. Once apply juice stays down, move on to other liquids and gentle foods.
Rashes (Eczema, psoriasis, etc.)- In my family, we know skin problems. I have both psoriasis and eczema. My mom has full body psoriasis, and my son has had terrible eczema since birth. (You can read about Alex’s eczema here.) Prevention is obviously your most successful solution, but should a break out occur, you can help the skin heal quickly and with as little discomfort as possible.
Coconut oil or olive oil can be used to bring moisture back into the skin while also forming a protective barrier. Be mindful of allergies or sensitivities though as you don’t want to make things worse by using an oil you’re allergic to.
To soothe rashy skin, try a sea salt bath, or take a dip in the ocean if it’s nearby. This helps to soothe the skin, bring healing blood to the surface, and can help prevent infection in the open skin. Another option that is especially beneficial for psoriasis and eczema- get some sun. Put on your sunscreen and go worship the yellow god of summer! This is my mother’s lifelong secret and it’s helped to clear my skin many a time.
Sore Throats- The honey tea I mentioned under coughs is also good for a sore throat. If you’re of age, a hot tottie can also be a good option.
Our tried and true standby for a sore throat has always been to gargle with warm salt water. My mom swears this can even cure strep throat (I wouldn’t go that far). Mix some table salt into warm water and gargle with your head tilted back. You want the salt water to hit the back of your throat. Gargle until it’s no longer warm then spit it out. Repeat as needed.
Viruses (Cold/Flu/etc.)- The only way to stop a virus is for your body to produce enough white cells to kill off the virus. You can help your white cells along the way though. This doesn’t take any special gimmicks or supplements, just some good old fashioned food. Your best bet is to up your vitamin C and folic acid intake, but not just with oranges, also get plenty of leafy greens, citrus fruits, and pineapples. Garlic is also known to have immune-boosting properties, and could help keep you from developing a secondary infection. Now, your body will respond best to getting these foods in their natural, unadulterated forms. For example, eating an orange will be more easily recognized and used by your body than taking a vitamin C supplement or using a processed oil.
For a final note- I am not a doctor. I have never been to medical school. These remedies are simply what has been handed down in my family and it works for us. Always be mindful of your own medical history and conditions. If any ailment persists or doesn’t get better on it’s own, seek out the advice of your health care provider. Be particularly cautious if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if treating a small child.