Natural remedies for the common aches, pains, and health complaints
(Photo: Flickr / tillwe)
Is the economy beating you up? It’s time to get creative. Next time you
have an ache or pain, forget about a costly trip to the drugstore and
test-drive some of your grandmother’s remedies instead. It’ll save money
and be gentler on your body and the environment. Recessionistas (and gents), welcome to the DIY medicine cabinet.
1. Stop BleedingYou’d think it would burn, but a sprinkle of cayenne pepper on a cut will quickly stop the bleeding and actually relieve the pain.
2. ToothacheThere’s nothing so bad as the shooting pain of a toothache. You don’t
want to ignore a tooth problem, because an infection that close to your
brain can be extremely dangerous if it spreads. But in order to reduce
swelling and pain while you wait for a dentist appointment, try
putting a few drops of clove oil on your tooth and gums, and bite down on a smashed piece of garlic (which has excellent antibacterial properties). This has always worked for me.
3. Rashes and AllergiesPrescription and OTC antihistamines can cause some serious side effects. Before you head for the strong stuff, try green tea, which contains compounds with antihistamine properties. You’ll need to drink 2-3 cups a day to get the full effect.
4. Athlete’s FootIt’s a foot fungus, and it stinks. Air those piggies, then soak them in salty water, wash them with garlic juice, or soak them with diluted white or apple cider vinegar.
All of these things will help kill the fungus.
But you have to be
persistent, consistent, and diligent: No matter what treatment you use,
do it a few times a day and stick with it until at least a week after
you think the symptoms are gone! Fungus excels at hiding out and coming
back when you least expect it.
5. Acne and Sensitive SkinFirst, you really have to look at your lifestyle, because imbalances in
your health can show up in your skin. But in the meantime, wash your
face with oatmeal. It’s a gentle exfoliant and draws out oil and impurities.
6. Ear InfectionsEar infections can become quite serious and cause permanent damage, so
please see a doctor if your ear ache has become severe.
But if you feel
like your infection is mild and at the beginning stages, put a few drops
of garlic oil or white vinegar into
your ear canal and lay down on the opposite side to let those drops do
their work. Garlic and vinegar create an environment that won’t support
the bacteria causing the infection. Repeat a few times a day until the
symptoms disappear. (If your symptoms last longer than a few days, you
should definitely see a doctor!)
7. Sore Muscles and BruisesAfter a hard afternoon of rowing with a friend, I resigned myself to a
few days of burning muscles and soreness. But my friend saved the day
with a tube of arnica cream. He rubbed it on my
shoulders and voila, instant relief and absolutely no aches the next
day. The humble arnica flower makes an incredible cream
that no medicine cabinet should be without. Use it immediately to speed
up the healing of bruises, sprains, sore muscles, and other general
8. FlatulenceSome foods, like beans and raw veggies, are more likely to cause gas,
but if you find flatulence to be too common of an occurrence, try taking
a digestive enzyme with your meals. You can find these at any health food store.
In the meantime, make use of digestive spices such as ginger, anise, peppermint, coriander, and dill. You can make tea with these ingredients or incorporate them into your food.
9. DandruffHave you looked at the ingredients in dandruff shampoo? It seems like they contain almost everything in the Toxic Ingredients You Must Avoid list. Better to try something natural first before resorting to chemicals. Many people swear by rubbing aloe vera gel onto
the scalp (leave it on for 20 minutes than rinse it out). This will
certainly help with dry, itchy scalp.
Another remedy is a rinse with apple cider vinegar.
Try these remedies a few times before deciding if they work for you.
Even dandruff shampoo requires regular use to see results, so give the
natural stuff a chance!
10. Headache and MigraineTry rubbing peppermint or lavender oil on your temples and the base of
your neck; sniffing these oils may also help.
Rub a fresh cut lemon or
lime on your forehead. Feverfew is a good herbal remedy for headaches.
Have a little caffeine by way of green tea, and don’t forget to use an
ice pack for 20 minutes to dull the throbbing.
11. Indigestion and HeartburnIt almost goes without saying – but consider why you’re getting
heartburn in the first place. Did you overeat? Too much grease or spicy
food? Eating late at night? Scout out the cause and try to stop this
before it happens. Then, put down the antacids.
The belching, bloat, and
heartburn caused by indigestion come about because you don’t have enough
stomach acid to do the job right. A spoonful or two of apple cider vinegar will help break down the excess food that is causing you trouble and bring your stomach back to balance.
12. ConstipationFirst, drink more water and eat more
fruit and salads. You’re backed up for a reason and taking lots of
laxatives is not the answer. Meanwhile, drinking a few teaspoons of olive oil mixed with a bit of orange or (diluted) lemon juice can help things get moving.
Another surefire remedy is 1/4 teaspoon of epsom salts drunk in 1/2 a glass of water.
Sometimes calorie restriction or avoidance of healthy fats (such as the
good fats found in fish, nuts, and avocados) can worsen constipation.
And though it’s counterintuitive, some people relieve their constipation
by actually cutting back on grain consumption! True, grains contain
fiber, but some people don’t digest grains very well. Other causes of
constipation include stress, depression, inactivity, and nutritional
deficiencies. If your constipation is chronic, it may be a sign of a
more serious problem, so please seek medical advice and adjust your
13. Sore Throat
Sore, scratchy throats are usually a sign of a cold or flu coming on, so
you don’t want to ignore this symptom, but you can relieve the pain by gargling with warm salt water a few times a day and then drinking a soothing honey-lemon tea.
14. BurnsSo you bumped up against the stove again? Ouch. Rinse first with cold water, but then immediately apply aloe vera gel to the burn.
For those of us who don’t have aloe in the house, slice a potato and rub its cool, soothing juices all over the burn.
And honey, with its antibacterial properties, is also good topical ointment. If you can catch the burn immediately, mustard is also reportedly a great salve.
15. NauseaThe classic cure for nausea or carsickness is ginger tea or candied ginger. You can chew on the stuff raw, if you like, but it’s so spicy and strong it might just make you feel worse.
Sniffing real peppermint or lavender oil can also help.
Give some of these remedies a try – and share your own tried-and-true treatments, too.
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