There are some natural remedies that work for a variety of ailments, but — as with anything — they must be used correctly and with care.
Apple cider vinegar isn’t just a delicious addition to recipes, but it may also help treat anything from acne to heartburn.
Throughout history, civilizations have compiled natural remedies for health and healing. But where should you begin sifting through this flood of possible solutions to solve the problem plaguing you? From supplements to herbs and plants to “kitchen cures” straight from your fridge and pantry, Meredith Hale’s book Home Remedies (Wellfleet Press, 2015) is a collection of the best cures for common ailments. Whether you’re plagued by fever, toothaches, insomnia, or anything in between, this book contains a comprehensive and unique list of natural fixes for your illness.
You can purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Home Remedies.
As you read these pages, you’ll discover that certain remedies come up again and again. That’s because certain plants and kitchen cures are used to treat a wide variety of ailments, because they have natural anti-inflammatory and/or antimicrobial properties. (“Antimicrobial” refers to medicines that fight microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses.) Here are just a few of the repeat remedies in this book:
Aloe vera’s history dates back six thousand years to ancient Egypt, where it was presented as a burial gift to deceased pharaohs. Historically used to heal wounds and treat skin conditions, today aloe vera gel is found in hundreds of skincare products, including sunblocks and after-sun lotions.
Is there anything apple cider vinegar can’t treat? Also known as ACV, this popular ingredient in salad dressings and marinades is used for ailments as diverse as acne, dandruff, food poisoning, heartburn, jock itch, kidney stones, psoriasis, and more. Cheap and easily accessible, ACV has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties that make it a staple in any home-remedy arsenal.
Sodium bicarbonate—also known as baking soda— does more than just freshen up your refrigerator. Used by ancient Egyptians in its natural form as a cleansing agent, baking soda has a number of contemporary medicinal uses, including treating body odor, poison ivy, calluses, heartburn, and the itching of chickenpox.
Garlic has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and today it is used to treat ailments including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. It’s also thought to have natural antibiotic and antifungal properties.
Used medicinally for centuries by the aboriginal people of Australia, tea tree oil is a common remedy for acne, athlete’s foot, nail fungus, wounds, lice, and lots of other ailments. These and many other home remedies appear repeatedly throughout the book, making it easy to stock up on a few essential items that can treat various ailments you or your family may encounter.
Home remedies are never a substitute for medical advice from your physician. For starters, many natural treatments and home remedies are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning the regulatory agency has not deemed them safe or effective, or studied their potential side effects. The FDA does regulate dietary supplements, but under a different set of regulations than those covering conventional food and drug products. These regulations place the burden of ensuring safety on the firm manufacturing or distributing the supplement; in fact, dietary supplements do not need approval from the FDA before they are marketed to the public. Therefore, it’s important to discuss any potential medical treatments—natural or otherwise— with a medical professional before using them. Here are a few other considerations when evaluating natural treatments for use:
Unless otherwise indicated, the dosages recommended here are for adults. Always consult your child’s doctor before giving him or her any supplements or other medical treatments. Certain plants or oils can be dangerous for children—for example, peppermint oil should never be given to an infant or very young child, and children under two should not consume honey. The dosages listed here are taken from scientific studies, university and government websites, manufacturer recommendations, and health books; however, as scientific research in this area is often inconsistent, based on small studies, or in need of further corroboration, effective dosages are often hard to pinpoint. Talk to your doctor or a licensed naturopathic doctor (ND) about what’s right for you. In addition, keep oils, supplements, and other medicines out of the reach of children, as certain products (such as tea tree oil) may be toxic if ingested or used improperly.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should always talk to your doctor before taking any vitamin, supplement, or other medicine (natural or over-the-counter), to make sure it poses no danger to the fetus or baby.
If you are currently taking any drugs, or have allergies or other medical conditions, talk to your doctor before beginning a supplement, essential oil, or other treatment. Your doctor can advise you as to potential interactions or side effects. For example:
• Chamomile tea may trigger symptoms in people with allergies to ragweed.
• Cranberries may interfere with blood thinners and other medications.
• Lysine supplements may increase cholesterol production, which can be problematic for people with high cholesterol.
A physician or licensed ND can help you make decisions that take into account your whole body and medical history, and help you avoid potentially dangerous interactions.
There is a common misconception that natural and conventional medicines are at odds. In fact, often they can work together. Doctors frequently recommend natural cures for medical problems — for example, an oatmeal bath for eczema or diaper rash. Even if a condition requires conventional medication, home remedies can often complement the medicine prescribed by your doctor by offering pain relief and helping to fight toxins in the body. To begin, find your ailment within these pages, and read the listed treatments and tips. Relief may be as close as your kitchen.
Reprinted with permission from Home Remedies: An A-Z Guide of Quick and Easy Natural Cures by Meredith Hale, published by Wellfleet Press, 2015. Buy this book from our store: Home Remedies.
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