Posted by on Aug 31, 2014 in Do-It-Yourself, Frugal For Everyone, Green Living, Herbs | 38 comments

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, 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?Natural Remedies

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.


  1. Acne:

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:

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:

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.

  1. Colds:

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 for 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, 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: Remedies - frugalforeveryoneOnce 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.

  1. Flu:

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.

Natural RemediesThe flu is much more serious than  a cold, especially now with new strains appearing all the time. Close monitoring is important – don’t hesitate to seek a doctor’s advice if at all worried.

  1. Headache:

A headache is a symptom that something is wrong – it’s not an illness in itself. 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.

       5.  Rash:

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.

       6.  Stomach-Ache:

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.Natural Remedies Frugalforeveryone

  • 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.

Talk to you again next week,


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All images Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos:

  • Mortar & Pestle by lemonade
  • Chicken Soup by tiramisustudio
  • Thermometer by Ambro
  • Chamomile Tea by Serge Bertasius


  1. Lenie, I love the point you make that natural remedies should be a normal part of a well-run household. I wish I had known about chamomile tea yesterday when my youngest had a tummy ache. Funny story – the last time I did an oatmeal bath, the rubber band came off the paper and I was fishing gazillions of little outmeal bits out of the bathtub! 🙂

  2. Chamomile tea for headaches really does work! You offer very valuable natural remedies here.

  3. Loved this one. It’s getting cold and the kids are back in school. Will be stocking up on garlic and mullein 🙂

  4. Lenie- Love your natural tips. I am one who doesn’t like to take medications of any type. I also use ginger for nausea.

  5. Lenie, I actually wish you had done separate posts for each one – each ailment is worthy of plenty of commentary.

    Two weeks ago I caught a cold. I did a little internet searching, and I discovered sage, thyme and rosemary tea are good remedies. Luckily, all three are growing in my yard! It may be a coincidence, but two days after sipping that homemade herbal tea (with a little hot sauce and fermented garlic, too), I felt much better.

  6. Thank you Lenie for these tips. I hate being a pill popper, even if I need to take maintenance meds for my diabetes and hyperthyroidism. I agree that there are some home meds that offer faster and better relief than prescription drugs. Let me share some with you too. When I was a little girl, my mom used to pound some ginger and rub it on my skin to relieve the itchiness brought about by insect (mosquito) bites. Tea made out of guava leaves cure diarrhea. The same concoction can be used as an antiseptic wash for cuts and scrapes. I guess there is really truth to the saying – “Mothers know best.”

  7. I grew up with the Balch “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” in every room of my house. Even when I went to my aunt’s house, everywhere. It’s still one of the most beneficial books.

    Natural remedies are a great cost effective and earth friendly way to soothe what ails you!

    As a kid, I suffered from acne pretty severely, and as an adult, it can still plague me. I’m definitely going to try your basil vinegar method!

    I’ve also heard recently that raspberry leaf tea is supposed to be good for menstrual cramps. Have you heard anything similar?
    -Mrs. Duke Stewart

  8. I have always been against taking medicine if I could avoid it and every year I pound these wellness formulas to prevent becoming a victim of cold season. Maybe I should pound some garlic instead. I have no sense of smell so at least I will have no problem with the smell. I am also going to look for the mullein tea.

  9. Great list. I am a huge fan of natural remedies. I try to take the least amount of medicine as possible.

  10. I’ve always thought that the power of using garlic to prevent cold is that it keeps those people spreading it to a safer distance, especially if you eat large amounts… LOL

    I’ve never heard of mullein either, but it sounds really interesting. Have to take a closer look! Thanks Lenie!

  11. Thank you for the tips! I use a lot of natural remedies and I was also fortunate enough to find a doctor that also uses natural remedies and listens to that if I’m having an issues we discuss the best options. That is rare.

  12. Very helpful information, Lenie. I just had a rare cold and found that Yogi Throat Comfort Tea was very soothing. I have also found that my headaches can be caused by muscle tension in the neck. The goal is to try and stay balanced!

  13. Thanks for the ideas! Chamomile tea is also good for relaxation and I have to be careful because it can cause me to be very sleepy.

  14. I love the idea of using more natural remedies for illnesses. Sometimes you just have to wonder about the side effects of certain drugs they list on TV. It’s almost better to not use anything than deal with those awful side effects.

  15. I am all for using natural and if possible home made remedies when anyone in the family is unwell. The oatmeal bath is a new one for me.

  16. In this part of the wold that I lived, herbal or natural medicine are given high priority and consider the first aid before seeking for medical doctors help.

    And I have to say this…they’re really helping out both in terms of cost and effectiveness.

    You’ve done a beautiful work here Lenie, I have to bookmark this page for a read again.

    Thanks for sharing.

  17. I’ll have to give some of your tips for headaches a try. As for garlic, my grandma used to eat it by the bucket and rarely caught colds, so it must have been doing the trick. Alas, nobody ever wanted to ride alone in a car with her 😉

  18. I have to admit that I had never heard of mullein tea until I read your post. I looked it up on WebMD and learned that it is used to make medicine for is a variety of ills. When I was a child, I recall that my best friend’s grandmother used to put tea bags on her legs for open sores. This home remedy worked very well. I like the idea of the oatmeal bath. It’s something I might try myself.

  19. Hi Lenie. What an insightful post! I’ll definitely bookmark it as my go-to source for natural remedies when I’m not feeling well. I experienced a bad cold the other week and found that drinking tons of herbal tea helped bring me back to life. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Brilliant post Lenie, I am interested in herbal remedies, especially teas. I want to do my best to avoid getting sick this winter, so I am going to take note of your advice.

  21. I know most of these remedies, and they indeed do work. I was unfamiliar with catnip tea, that one I will need to try.

  22. I love using natural remedies and your list is very helpful.

    • Thanks to all of you for your comments and very much appreciate you sharing your remedies. I will be adding those to my collection. There are some neat ones to try – Andleeb’s headache remedy and Ramona’s oregano oil. I love this sharing of information.

  23. Lenie, you are one practically-wise individual! As regards colds, something I do as soon as I feel one coming on is take a few drops of oregano oil a few times a day. It is remarkable how potent it is to either vanquish the oncoming cold or to lessen its effects. It all depends on how early I start. After a cold is full blown, the oregano oil is not nearly so effective.

    I love what you say about chicken soup. From my own experience I know its reputation isn’t all hype. Indeed, it is a comfort food. I also find the process of making it comforting. There is much to be said about the comfort aspect of combating an illness.

    Thanks for sharing your gems.

  24. We reach too quickly for a pill or potion, when often the best remedy is in the kitchen. I swear by peppermint tea for any kind of stomach ailment – don’t have anything else in my medicine cabinet, and haven’t ever needed it. Love reading about new naturally sourced remedies, and am intrigued by mullein tea. Will have to check it out!

  25. Hello,

    Very impressed with your post!! I am all for natural healing!! I am bookmarking your blog.
    Have a sweet day
    Thank you,
    Marjorie xo

  26. This is a well spring of wisdom Lenie. I envy you for this knowledge, and its quite coincidental your post is similar to Mazino who wrote on herbal remedies. As I stated there, many grandparents here in Africa know a lot of natural herbal remedies and they know how to get rid of most of these ailments in a flash. Thanks for the post.

  27. Lenie, enjoyed reading this all the way through. I appreciate knowing what more can be done at home, as my ‘new’ insurance policy has a very high deductible and doesn’t offer coverage for doctor visits until that’s been met. It’s good to add these home remedies to my healthy living practice. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  28. Lenie, you give great tips. I just got a big bunch of mint. I am drying some to make tea later. Few branches are kept in a glass of water to keep fresh longer. The rest is just ground into a paste and kept in ice cube tray in the freezer. Oatmeal for rashes is new for me.

  29. Hi Lenie, We’ve always gargled with warm salt water growing up for a sore throat. I had never heard of gargling with sage tea. Interesting! I’m sure it probably tastes whole lot better than salt water. 🙂

  30. Quite informative. I tend to use some of these remedies for colds and Flu and I have bookmarked your page to refer to for other ailments. Thanks for sharing.

  31. Lenie, you are singing to the choir with this one! I am such a non-pharma person, though I admit that they do serve some purposes. But I will always try a natural remedy first. Honey heals everything…laugh! But UI have never heard of mullein tea! That’s a new one but I just put it on my Whole Foods list. Thanks Lenie! Great information as usual!

  32. Great post. I’ve never heard of mullein tea, but will look for it. When my daughter was young and had chicken pox, an oatmeal bath was one of the only things that gave her relief.

  33. These are great tips! I want to try the tea next time I get a Cold! 🙂

  34. Hi Lenie; I want to thank you for writing one of the most responsible posts on home remedies I’ve ever read. You used just the right tone. You balanced the need for seeing a doctor for serious ailments with the desire to be self sufficient and take care of the minor ailments on your own. As someone who has spent a lot of time with doctors lately I don’t want to see them any more often than I have to. thanks for sharing, max

  35. Great natural remedies. The cold season will soon start so doing what you suggest is a good idea.

  36. Thanks Lenie. I tend to be adverse to taking any medications unless they are really seriously necessary. I’ll save this and try some of them.

  37. Hello Dear
    Great post as always. I found some remedies very helpful. I always struggle acne and use natural remedies to cure it. I tried yogurt with many things but never with oats , I will try this soon.
    For stomach ache , I have tried mint tea many times and it is best I think.
    I would like to add two more natural remedies here that our family is using from ages and they have best results.
    In case of rash mix few drops of mustard oil with 1 table spoon of water and then apply on area where you have rash.
    In case of head ache put your head on pillow in such a way that head drop on back side,then drop 2/3 drops of olive oil in both nostrils and stay on pillow in same position for few minutes that oil travel towards back side inside nose. After almost 5 minutes you will feel much relieved. If olive oil is mild warm its better.
    I hope I have explained this well ( position 🙂 ).
    Thank you so much again.

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