Effective Natural Remedies
Whether you are prone to a variety of different ailments on a regular basis, or you suffer the odd cold in winter, you are likely to be aware of the wide range of medicines that are available over the counter. Look at the list of ingredients and you will find a large number of words that you can barely pronounce let alone define.
I am one of those people that are reluctant to take something when I do not know what is in it, which leads me to rely more on natural remedies.
Fortunately, there are a range of foods and drinks that are all natural and can offer a number of different benefits, making it possible to forgo a pharmaceutical route.
Fresh mint is often available from whole food shops, supermarkets and market stalls with the latter usually offering the best bargain. If you have a garden and really want to feel smug, you grow your own.
Mint can be grown in a range of climates but particularly thrive in moist, shady conditions. In this case, you will be able to pick as much as you need and allow the plant to continue to grow.
Where it is not possible to obtain fresh mint, the dried variety will be readily available from the spice aisle.
Whether you chew the leaves or make tea with them, mint will offer a great deal of benefit to the digestive system. Bruise and tear the leaves a little before pouring boiling water over them or put them in a saucepan of water.
Ideally, mint tea should be drunk at least an hour before a meal to aid trouble-free digestion. I have also found that mint helps alleviate allergy symptoms to the extent that I can forgo antihistamines.
Both soothing and sweet, it is no great hardship to make use of honey when you are suffering with an irritated throat. It is not only the consistency of honey that helps give the throat some relief, it also has antibacterial qualities to speed up recovery.
Manuka honey is especially beneficial as it is produced by bees that collect pollen from tea tree plants. This ensures that the healing properties of tea tree are passed to the honey, which will also boost the immune system.
Add the honey according to your taste to tea, especially with a lemon and/or ginger tea when suffering a cold or flu.
Externally, Manuka honey is also used as a treatment for wounds in order to speed up healing. I have found it to be useful as a lip balm.
This spicy root is excellent for a number of different ailments and is available both ground and fresh. You will also find that natural foods stores have a range of ginger sweets and preserved pieces of the root that are really convenient.
Ginger is comforting and warming so ideal for the cold winter months and works well with other examples of nature’s goodness, such as lemon and honey.
Ginger is an anti-inflammatory and also a useful digestive aid.
It is excellent for those beneficial to those who are suffering nausea, such as due to pregnancy or travel, for example. Being a natural substance, pregnant women do not have to worry about any detrimental side effects that can result from the use of medication that purports to use the same job.
Grate a piece of fresh root ginger that it about the length of a thumb (I do not even bother peeling it) into some simmering water, add lemon juice after it is taken off the boil and add honey to taste. Alternatively, I will throw a piece of ginger into the juicer when making a fresh juice.
I use the dried version of the spice by adding it to a basic cookie recipe for a sweet treat with a comforting ginger kick.
This unassuming looking bulb is actually a little bit of nature’s magic as it can do so much more than enhance a range of dishes with its pungent flavour.
Related to the onion family, garlic contains sulphur, which is the compound that gives it that telltale aroma and taste.
While it is easy to add it to a range of dishes, much of the benefit is lost through the cooking process.
If you really want to get some medicinal advantage rather than just the flavour, you can use it raw for a sore throat. Do this by pouring a little honey into a small-lidded pot or jar. Chop a clove of garlic and putting it into a clean piece of gauze or cheesecloth and securely knot or tie off the end to prevent any of the garlic escaping. Push the bag into the honey and leave it to sit overnight. When you return to it, you will find that the honey has become cloudy from where the compounds that make up the garlic have seeped into the honey. Swallow a spoonful – in the same way that you would with a cough medicine – to improve a sore throat. Does it taste fantastic? No. Does it work? Yes.
This spice grows as a root and comes from the same family as ginger, which is easy to see when you look at the two roots together.
It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and easy to use, being available both fresh and dried and ground.
A little goes a long way and can be used in a variety of dishes for flavour and colour. Just a pinch of ground turmeric can be added to rice while it is cooking to make fragrant, yellow rice that is the perfect accompaniment to a curry.
It is also beneficial externally and can improve a number of skin conditions, such as acne or oiliness. Mix a ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric with a teaspoon of natural yoghurt until thoroughly combined and spread onto the cleansed skin of the face. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes before washing it off with clean water.
Similar to garlic, onions contain sulphur that causes the pungent taste and makes your eyes water. It can offer much more than just being the starting point for a vast number of dishes.
Onions are great at aiding with detoxifying the body, flushing away nasty toxins. However, like garlic, the medicinal benefits are more potent when they are raw.
Rather than waste time finding ways to stop yourself crying while chopping them, get the most benefit from its detoxifying effects by simply topping and tailing it, peeling off the skin and throwing it into a juicer with your other chosen fruit and veg.
You may assume that you would only choose this method of consuming onions if you are feeling brave, but if you also juice fruits and vegetables that are sufficiently flavoursome, you will barely notice the taste. I usually juice one onion with at least two apples, a lemon, a grapefruit and a good-sized bit of ginger. Sometimes I will also throw in some cucumber.
While it is an element that many of us know that we need less of in our diet, which does not mean that it is without its uses.
When you feel that early tickle or roughness of an impending sore throat, dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of tepid water and gargle with it. Make sure you pay attention to what you are doing to avoid accidentally swallowing it.
Some people swear by salt for dizziness that can result from blood pressure problems. Put a pinch under your tongue, let is dissolve and drink a big glass of water.
Some people will only ever use these at Christmas or when roasting a ham. Cloves have a benefit for those that are suffering toothache.
If you do not fancy chewing it, you can make a tincture by boiling a teaspoon of cloves in water, leaving them to simmer for at least half an hour. Keep an eye on it, you want it to boil down but do not let it boil dry.
The resulting mixture can be applied to the offending tooth or it can be gargled.
The acidic juice of a lemon juice offers a range of benefits both internally, such as kick starting the metabolism and boosting vitamin C levels, and externally, like cleansing the skin and lightening the hair.
The benefits can also be gained if you have a juicer as it is easy to stick a couple in the juicer with the rest of the fruit and vegetables that you using, which is especially handy if you want the benefits but are not a fan of the taste.
They are antibacterial and anti-viral and can be used in such a wide array of circumstances that there is no reason for them not to be a kitchen staple.
If you are lucky enough to be able to get un-waxed lemons, you can also make use of the zest in desserts.
Next to garlic, one of my favourite natural remedies. It comes in a massive number of varieties and is used in savoury and sweet dishes. Chilli chocolate anyone?
The only good thing about having a cold is that is in an excuse to treat myself to a curry. Chillies help to relieve the nastiest of cold symptoms and are especially great for stuffed up sinuses.
I honestly believe that chillies are a little additive and they heat up the body. If the chillies are hot enough, they can get you sweating out toxins
The amount of heat can be adjusted by removing or retaining the pith and it is easy to use as much or as little as desired to vary the level of heat and enhance the flavour of the food being cooked.