It used to be that using natural remedies to treat minor illnesses was just part of a well-managed household. But today many minor ailments are being seen by a doctor and treated with pharmaceuticals. Why? Natural remedies often do the job just as well, if not better, and at less cost and with far fewer side-effects. Shouldn’t we take responsibility for our own health whenever we can and leave the more serious problems to be dealt with by doctors and drugs?This article discusses the use of natural remedies to treat many minor ailments, always keeping in mind that the purpose of treatment is to relieve discomfort and to do no harm. I’ve only included safe, familiar products, easily found in the home or at a health food store, to be used in treatment. When dealing with serious illness, severe allergies, chronic medical conditions, or if in doubt, always call the doctor.
Acne is most prevalent during the teenage years, just at the time when looks are considered to be important. As a result, teenagers afflicted with this skin condition can really suffer. Rather than go into detail here, anyone interested in further information can visit the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/acne/basics/definition/con-20020580
While there are drugs available to treat acne, trying natural remedies first is always the better choice. Many may find relief by adhering to the routine below:
- Acne is caused by the excess production of sebum, the oil that lubricates the skin. Naturally, this means the first step is to get rid of the excess oil by keeping the face super-clean. Only oil-free, non-drying soaps, like Dove or extra-sensitive baby soap, should be used. Lavender has natural anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and regenerative properties. This would suggest that Yardley Lavender Soap cleans the skin while promoting healing of the acne lesions. Be careful when trying any new product – if a rash or redness develops, stop using it immediately.
- Once a day, fill a sink with hot water. Position face over the steam and drape a towel over the head to keep the steam in. Steam away for about five minutes, then lightly pat dry. Soak a cotton ball with basil vinegar and pat on face. Do NOT dry off, but allow it to evaporate.
- Apply a yogurt mask once a week. Mix together 1 tsp. each of plain yogurt, honey and finely ground oats. First steam the face as above, then apply the mask, using all of it. Leave for 15 minutes, rinse off with warm water and finish with a splash of cold water to close the pores. Carefully pat dry.
- Finally, do not wear make-up. It will aggravate and highlight the problem.
To make basil vinegar, click on my previous post: http://frugalforeveryone.ca/culinary-cosmetic-antiseptic-and-more-basil-does-it-all/
A severe or sudden outbreak of acne could be a symptom of a more serious health problem or a drug side-effect. Consult a doctor immediately.
Fall is the beginning of the cold season and sooner or later most of us will fall victim. Fortunately there are natural remedies that work, both in preventing and treating. The best preventative, as far as I’m concerned, is mullein tea. Mullein is a large plant that grows wild in farmers’ fields. We always dried enough of the large mullein leaves to see us through the fall and winter. Every night, when our boys came home from school, they would have mullein tea, sweetened with honey. As long as we had the tea, they never had a cold. If we ran out though, which often happened around April, the colds would start. Mullein is now available from most Health Food Stores.
Garlic can be used as a preventative and a treatment – as a preventative, its active ingredients actually fight the viruses that cause colds; as a treatment, it helps relieve congestion by expelling fluid from the lungs. It’s best to use fresh garlic – raw or cooked. Garlic powder or garlic pills do not seem to have the same effect. For some tasty ways to use garlic, check this link- it’s got some interesting recipes: www.greenmountaingarlic.com/cooking-with-garlic/Once a cold has started it’s going to run its course, no matter what you do. But there are natural remedies that can make this more comfortable. The best thing is to stay warm, get plenty of rest, and eat vitamin-rich foods. Homemade chicken soup is ideal as it’s comforting, nourishing, full of vitamins and soothes the throat, all at the same time. Drink plenty of fluids sweetened with honey. This includes teas made with mullein, echinacea, ginger, lemon balm or sage (the ginger and sage in your spice rack will work just fine). Warm lemon water, sweetened with honey, will soothe the throat and loosen congestion.
Do not give honey to children under a year old.
Sage tea can be used as an effective gargle for a sore throat and the facial steaming, mentioned under acne, can relieve congestion. Adding a few mint leaves (or a mint tea bag) to the steaming water may provide extra relief.
Many of the natural remedies used for colds can also be used to treat flu. The difference is, most colds aren’t accompanied by fever, while flu is. Other flu symptoms may include: a dry cough, painful eyes, weakness, muscle aches and pains, and a sore throat. The most important treatments for flu are bed rest and staying hydrated. Bed rest, preferably in a dark room, helps avoid spreading the flu; allows the body to gain the strength it needs to fight the flu virus; and the darkness provides relief for painful eyes. As fever causes dehydration it’s important to stay hydrated. Drink lots of warm lemon water sweetened with honey, herbal teas (mullein, echinacea, lemon balm, ginger), or chicken broth. Eat plenty of citrus fruits and berries. For the cough and the sore throat, gargle with sage tea, drink warm lemon water and herbal teas.
A headache is a symptom that something is wrong – it is not in itself an illness. Many headaches are caused by stress or sinus problems and most may be relieved using natural remedies. But not all, and in those cases, it’s important to call the doctor. Natural remedies for headaches include:
- Wrapping bags of frozen peas in towels, then applying these to the neck and forehead. Adding a few drops of lavender essential oil to the forehead towel may provide additional relief;
- A cup of chamomile tea may relax tension muscles, bringing comfort and relief;
- For a migraine headache, relief may be found by bed rest in a dark room;
- A lavender bath often lessens tension or migraine headaches;
- Adding mint to the bathwater may lessen sinus headaches;
- Steaming the face over mint-infused water may open the sinus cavities to provide relief.
High-Blood Pressure and High-Cholesterol: I don’t feel comfortable discussing natural remedies here as these two conditions should always be monitored by a doctor. Since garlic is known to help regulate those conditions, the only safe thing I do to help myself is to add garlic to many recipes.
A skin rash should always be taken seriously. It’s an indication that something is wrong, whether it be poison ivy, chicken pox, fifth disease or more serious health concerns. For mild rashes, the oatmeal bath is the natural treatment of choice. I first learned about the wonders of the oatmeal bath years ago. One of our boys came down with Fifth Disease, a viral illness that causes a horrible itchy rash. The doctor suggested giving him oatmeal baths and those worked so well, I’ve been using them myself ever since. The reason it works – oatmeal normalizes the skin’s pH level and has anti-inflammatory properties, both of which relieves the itch.
To prepare the oatmeal bath: Grind the oatmeal to a fine powder, place 1/2 a cup or so in a cone-shaped coffee-filter and seal with elastic bands. Place the filter inside a bath bag or old, clean sock and hang under the tap while the water is running. One extra step you can take – just prior to the end of the bath, remove the oatmeal-filled bag from the tap and rub gently over the rash area.
Because oatmeal is so mild, oatmeal baths are a gentle way to treat a baby’s dry skin and alleviate itchiness.
Basil vinegar revitalizes and softens the skin by also balancing the skin’s pH level. It can be added to the bath water – add 1/2 a cup of basil to a tubful of water. This is an effective antiseptic and is especially good to use for relieving itch from insect bites.
Natural remedies can be used effectively to treat the non-serious causes of stomach-ache. Herbal teas are best as they relieve indigestion, mild constipation, menstrual cramps, gas, and tension or nervous stomach.
- Catnip Tea – good for colicky babies (without honey), eases menstrual cramps (not to be used by pregnant women), relieves indigestion;
- Chamomile Tea -contains a mild, non-addictive sedative which may provide relief for problems caused by tension or nervous stomach. It keeps the digestive system functioning properly and relieves gas pain. Its anti-inflammatory properties soothes ulcers and speeds healing. Chamomile tea is a good gentle remedy for children’s diarrhea.
- Mint Tea – soothes upset stomach, aids digestion, relieves cramps, and dispels nausea.
OTHER: Stewed prunes and/or rhubarb or a blend of apple and grape juice may relieve constipation and gas.
CAUTION: If the symptoms persist, don’t fool around. Any stomach-ache accompanied by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, serious constipation or tenderness requires medical attention. Immediate medical attention is required if the vomit or stools contain blood or if the patient has difficulty breathing.
In many cases the problem is short-lived and easily treated with natural remedies. But again, as in all cases, when in doubt, call the doctor.
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Talk to you again next week,
All images Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos:
- Mortar & Pestle by lemonade
- Chicken Soup by tiramisustudio
- Thermometer by Ambro
- Chicken Pox by Papaija2008
- Chamomile Tea by Serge Bertasius