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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tried and True Home Remedies

The winter season is upon us, and colds, flu, and seasonal blues start kicking in. A safe and effective way to treat common ailments is through home remedies. These trustworthy treatments have been used for hundreds to thousands of years. Over-the-counter treatments, like pain relievers and cold medicine, often mask symptoms, rather than treating the condition. Many home remedies have been proven as effective if not more effective than modern drugs. I stopped using over-the-counter treatments several years ago, and along with a healthy diet, hydration, exercise, and the use of home remedies, I have found that I get sick less often. Here are some of my favorite natural healers:
  • Aloe Vera - I use a product called Aloe Life Skin Gel, but if you have an aloe plant in your home it is best to use the fresh gel from a cut leaf.  Aloe is beneficial for acne, athlete's foot, dry skin, sunburn, blisters, canker sores, dry hair, etc. 
  • Apple Cider Vinegar - Look for an organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, like Bragg's, in the grocery store. You can use it in cooking, but it is also great at fighting bacteria and fungi. It's beneficial for acne, athlete's foot, diaper rash, itching from insect bites, and heartburn (place 1 tbs. in a glass of water and you can say goodbye to indigestion!)
  • Arnica Montana - A mountain herb that is used for its painkilling and anti-inflammatory properties to treat bruises and injuries. I use Boiron Arnicare Gel, but you can find it in cream, ointment, and tincture forms as well. 
  • Chamomile - Famous for its calming properties, I like to drink chamomile tea before bed or when I'm stressed. It can also be used to aid digestion and sooth menstrual cramps. When applied externally in a cream form, it can help cuts, burns, and rashes heal. 
  • Garlic - Not just for keeping away the evil spirits! Add raw garlic to dishes or take a garlic supplement to fight colds and flu. Garlic works like a natural antibiotic to stave off infections, such as athlete's foot, yeast infections, and ear infections. Garlic also fights cancer and heart disease by improving blood flow throughout the body. 
  • Ginger - This is one of my favorite healers, which I use daily. It is famous for it's stomach-soothing properties, especially for digestion, motion-sickness, nausea, flatulence, menstrual cramps, and morning sickness. When taken at the first sign of a migraine, it can reduce the severity of the headache. Ginger is also used to boost immunity, ease arthritis, and lower cholesterol. I use ginger in the form of tea, easily portable ginger chews (which you can buy at Trader Joe's), or ginger powder added to daily meals and beverages.
  • Goldenseal  - This potent herbal remedy is recognized as a medicine in some countries. It is used in fighting bacterial, viral, and fungal infections and boosting the immune system. I recently purchased Nature's Answer Goldenseal Root, which is a tincture that you can add to a beverage. The tincture is bitter, but I find that it is barely detectable when added to 100% cranberry juice. I immediately notice a difference if I take goldenseal when I feel a stuffy nose or cold coming on. 
  • Lavender & Peppermint - This power combination can soothe stomachs, calm anxious nerves, and treat insomnia and headaches. Not to mention they smell wonderful! I combine lavender and peppermint teas or oils. My favorite product containing these herbs is My-grastick, which is a roll-on stick with essential oils to treat migraines and soothe stress. 
  • Oregano Oil - A natural antibiotic that fights against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Oregano oil is also high in antioxidants. It can be used to ward off colds or to treat diarrhea and constipation. I use Oreganol, which is pricey, but a little bit goes a long way (just 2 drops under the tongue does the trick). 
  • Sea Salt - A simple warm salt water gargle can ease a sore throat, gum problems, and toothaches. Rinse with salt water as soon as you sense allergies, colds, flu, sinusitis, and earaches coming on. 
  • Valerian - A natural alternative to sleeping pills, without the nasty side effects. It is also great for easing anxiety. I spray a bit of Elixir of Dreams Pillow Mist on my pillow before bed. The mist contains valerian and lavender to help put you to sleep. 
  • Witch Hazel - Contains the active ingredient tannin, which is a natural astringent. It tightens pores and reduces redness like a skin toner. It balances the moisture level of both oily and dry skin. Witch hazel can also be used for insect bites, poison ivy, razor burn, and sunburn. Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel is organic and does not contain alcohol, which can aggravate sensitive skin. 
My two favorite resources for home remedies are the Reader's Digest book, 1,801 Home Remedies, and the website http://www.myhomeremedies.com/, which has user ratings and reviews for trusted remedies.

Although herbal remedies are natural, be sure to check with your doctor or research drug interactions before introducing these herbs into your daily routine.  

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