Issue 58 July 2009
Vinegar for dry skin and onions for wasp stings? Many ingredients found in the kitchen cupboard can double as cures for a host of health complaints with no worry of side-effects. Noreen A. Kassem rounds up the best home remedies.
It may sound like an old wives’ tale, but nature’s cures have treated injuries, ailments and conditions for centuries. Home remedies are not just folklore, they make use of the beneficial properties in common herbs, spices and other food items. Discover what medicines your kitchen can muster for a natural healing process.
[NB Home remedies are not always potent enough to treat all infections and illnesses; see a doctor if problems persist.]
Make fresh ginger tea by stirring two teaspoons of grated ginger root into a cup of boiling water and allow the mixture to steep before straining and drinking it. Ginger boosts immune system activity and can help to prevent and reduce cold symptoms.
Make your own cough syrup by heating a finely chopped onion covered with honey. Warm the mixture for 40 minutes and take as needed, one or two warm spoonfuls at a time. The onion has expectorant and antimicrobial properties and increases circulation, while the honey soothes the throat. Thyme also helps prevent infections and eases coughs. Brew thyme tea with fresh or dried thyme when you’re trying to quell a cough.
Dry Skin and Scalp
Vinegar can alleviate dry, itchy skin, and can lessen dandruff. Add a cup to your bath water or add vinegar to your shampoo to cleanse and balance the hair and scalp. Apple cider vinegar is the best, boasting a high vitamin content of vitamin C, E, A, B1, B2, b6, proto-vitamin and beta-carotene. It also contains many minerals and trace elements such as potassium, calcium, sodium, copper, iron and magnesium.
Earache and Ear infections
Soothe the pain of an earache with warm olive oil. Apply to the outer ear and the rim of the inner ear. You can also soften ear wax by applying a few drops of olive oil into the ear four times a day. This is as effective as anything you can buy over the counter.
A tea brewed with a combination of fennel seed and chamomile will help relieve stomach pain. Fennel seeds relieve nausea and chamomile calms and soothes painful gastritis.
Ginger is a good remedy for car sickness, morning sickness and general nausea. Try eating crystallised ginger or drinking it in an infusion of tea with lemon and honey. Ginger works directly on the digestive tract by increasing the secretion of digestive juices.
A teaspoon of powdered cumin with water may taste horrible but has immediate effect on indigestion and bloating. Cumin’s properties are antiseptic, anti-spasmodic, antitoxic, bactericidal, digestive and diuretic.
To relieve the pain of a urinary tract infection, mix half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in a glass of water and drink. This changes the pH level of the acidic urine so that it will burn less when passing water. Do this once or twice a day at the first sign of infection. Drinking cranberry juice twice a day can also help as it contains chemicals which inhibit the activity of E. coli - the bacteria most often responsible for cystitis.
Cloves have natural pain-killing properties: they are antiseptic and a common home remedy for toothaches. Chew on cloves or try rubbing clove oil on the affected area for temporary relief.
Chamomile tea can help soothe the pain of mouth ulcers. Allow the herbal brew to cool with the tea bag in, and then swill liquid around the mouth before swallowing. Do this every couple of hours. It is thought the herb contains substances that relieve inflammation.
A kitchen remedy for athlete’s foot is a garlic soak. Garlic contains powerful antifungal agents. Steep six to eight crushed cloves of garlic in a basin of hot water for an hour before soaking your feet in it for 30 minutes.
Taping the inside of the peel from an overripe banana to a verruca may help the healing process. This is due to the anti-viral properties in the mucilage (the sticky substance inside the peel).
Treat bruises by placing a slice of onion on the skin for 15 minutes. This helps stimulate the lymphatic fluids to flush away the pooled blood.
A couple of cups of salt added to bathwater stimulate blood flow to relieve aching muscles and joints. Sea salt contains magnesium, a mineral known for its muscle relaxing qualities, as well as other vital nutrients such as potassium. The bath salts also aid in the release of toxins that build up during exercise.
Hot milk and honey can help soothe you to sleep. Milk is rich in tryptophan which the body converts into serotonin – a natural hormone which relaxes you and makes you sleepy.
Every household is prone to some injuries, especially during the holiday season, with children playing and DIY disasters afoot. In the event of an accident why not turn to your kitchen cupboard to concoct quick homemade remedies that work wonders?