Nature's Secret Weapons
Nature is full of an incredibly powerful tools that can produce some remarkable results, but all too often they are often overlooked by synthetic, often mass produced items that are nowhere near as effective and often, a lot more expensive. Whether this is as a result of the financial muscle of the big business’s and their well paid marketeers or just that the benefits have been forgotten in time, I couldn’t rightly say. But nonetheless, here is a list of items that, in my opinion, no home should be without.
I’ll be honest, I’m not a natural remedy type of person and I could count on one hand the number of times I have been into a wholefood shop. I generally eat regular food and although I find subjects such as homeopathy interesting, I have yet to be convinced that diluting something makes it more powerful! But, if something like homeopathy works for one person, then that’s great and who am I to argue?
Most of these items can be found on supermarket shelves and you shouldn't have too much trouble finding them, many are my personal favorites and have included them as I have personally had occasions to test them and often, have been amazed by the outcome.
Many years ago, I was due to fly out to meet my sister in Cyprus, where she had been working for a few years and we had planned to drive back to the UK. I can’t remember if it was an insect bite or similar, but on the day of the flight, I woke up to find the whole side of my face hot, red and swollen and with some other symptoms I won’t go into (in case you’re eating! But you get the idea?). I should have gone to the Doctor’s but I there was no way I could afford to miss the flight. So after a miserable journey, I arrived in Sunny Cyprus and my Sister immediately exclaimed “what’s happened to you face!!. Back at her apartment, her friend came round and he quickly returned with a tube of “Witch Hazel Gel”, and told me to apply it and all should be OK. So I did as I was instructed and the next morning, I awoke and checked in the mirror and was stunned to see that not only had the swelling gone down, the whole thing had pretty much disappeared overnight! It was quite unbelievable and in the 25 years that have passed, I’ve always kept a tube of Witch Hazel gel/cream or stick in my cupboard, although it invariably disappears into my wife’s makeup box as it is also remarkable at clearing up minor blemishes, spots or acne very quickly. Witch Hazel is a flowering plant/shrub mainly found in North America but with other strains in China and Japan and the bark and leaves are used to create the astringent for skin treatment, For me, definitely one of nature’s wonders and in recent years there are a number of witch hazel products on the market by different manufacturers, with Witch Doctor popular in the EU and Dickinson's and Thayer popular in the US, with a range of gel's, cremes and even facial washes.
Arnica is probably one of the most commonly used homeopathic medicines and is used for treatment of minor bruising. I was first introduced to this through my wife some years ago and despite my cynicism relating to all things homeopathic, I must say I was surprised by the results! Arnica Montana is an alpine plant cultivated mainly in Europe and it’s powers for treating bruising and sprains have been known for centuries, however as a herb, it is generally regarded as toxic if ingested internally and is recommended for external application only as a treatment, however there are external gels available commercially which are pretty much safe to use and it’s these that I personally would recommend, based on personal experience. I’ve used this previously for minor bruises and it is really quite astounding just how quickly they clear up (obviously anything considered more than “minor” should be checked out by a qualified physician!)
Vinegar can produced by fermentation of a variety of products, such as fruits, palm or rice, for example, to produce a mild acetic acid which is commonly used in cooking. However certain vinegar’s, predominantly the White Vinegar variety (or it’s near cousin, Apple cider vinegar) has long been used for it’s cleaning powers and in recent years has been touted by some as a rediscovered household “marvel”. As it’s seen as a natural ingredient, I've seen in recent years, some well-known cleaning products proudly promote that their products contain “vinegar” where is was something that wasn't worth mentioning previously. Whilst there are a number of commercially available products available containing white vinegar, many advocate that it’s uses are almost endless, although some care should be taken as whether dilution of the vinegar is required or not and as with all mild acids, some care should be taken with application, a whole book could be written on it’s uses, but here are just a few interesting examples; cleaning chrome or stainless steel, erasing pen marks on walls - dab some undiluted vinegar on a cloth and the marks should disappear, remove smell of smoke, be it cigarettes or burnt cooking by leaving a shallow bowl of undiluted vinegar in the area, get rid of garlic breath with a mouthwash of vinegar, salt and water. Clear drains with half a cup of baking soda followed by one cup of vinegar and flush with hot water. Stop car windscreen frosting overnight by spraying with 1 part vinegar, 1 part water solution. Clean blocked shower heads in hot water with half cup of vinegar and leave for 10 minutes. Vinegar can be used as a weed killer on driveways etc. Ants hate vinegar, a more humane way of getting an ant’s nest to relocate is spray area with neat vinegar. Suede stains can be removed by gently brushing with vinegar, allow to dry and then suede brush. Ballpoint pen marks on walls can be removed by gently rubbing with neat vinegar. And so on, the list is exhaustive and there are plenty more applications for the simple cheap product that can avoid you spending out on specific cleaning products, which can be expensive, however as with all such things, take care in it’s application and maybe try out on a small area first.
It should come as no surprise to many, that Banana’s are a “super fruit”, but it’s usefulness in combating all manner of ills may surprise some! It contains a perfect cocktail of useful vitamins and goodness that can help combat and reduce all manner of ills, as well as three types of sugar (fructose, sucrose and glucose) which is can slow release into the bodies system (which is why it is a fruit of choice for many top athletes). It has a high potassium content and low salt level which has been proved to reduce high blood pressure. It also contains a protein called Tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin, which makes the body relaxed and the mind happier and provides the bodies natural defense to depression. It also contains B vitamins that can naturally calm the bodies nervous system, high fibre to help moderate the bodies waste system and avoid constipation. The Banana’s incredible qualities can also provide much needed natural assistance for hangover’s (blended in a milkshake with honey!) and stomach ulcers, but neutralizing painful stomach acids. It is also said, that irritating mosquito bites can be soothed by rubbing banana skin on them! There has also been some studies that have even could even increase brain power with the potassium enriched fruit in making the consumer more alert. So overall, an amazing natural food and much underestimated natural toolkit.
The humble blueberry has been touted by many as one of the premier “superfoods”, low in calories and extremely high in nutrients, and contain high levels or vitamin K & C, compared to other fruits and also include minerals such as iron, manganese and potassium. Some experts state that if you were to add one healthy fruit to your diet, then blueberries should be top of the list. Blueberries are packed with phytonutrients that contribute to antioxidant properties that can benefit the whole body in various ways and not just certain bodily areas. There have been various studies into the benefit’s of blueberries and most appear to conclude that there are numerous health benefits relating to the consumption of blueberries in relation to overall health. The best way to get the full benefits of this amazing fruit is to consume them raw, rather than processed (or in a muffin!) and they can even survive freezing and thawing without losing any of the goodness!
Kale is dark green brassica vegetable part of the same family as the cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprout family, but don’t let that put you off. It’s origins are thought to be from Europe but today, it is grown across the globe and is available on most continents. It is no surprise that it has been included in the “superfoods” club as it’s nutritional values are quite outstanding. It is rich in Vitamin K, which helps maintain healthy bones, Vitamin C, it has been found to have 17 times more vitamin C per gram than carrots , Calcium, useful source for vegans, in the absence of dairy products and Folate, a form of folic acid, which has been proven to help growth of tissue’s for expectant Mum’s. Added to all this, Kale is very low in calories and fat free. There really isn't any downside to this super vegetable (unless you hate green vegetables that is!) and it’s popularity has risen greatly in vastly in the last few years which has seen farmers increase production in the USA by 60% in the last 5 years, particularly on the west coast. It’s little wonder that many Hollywood A-lister’s are advocating kale as their veg of choice.
Do you currently use any of the above items for the reasons described? If so, which ones?
So there are some of my particular favorites, although I’m sure there are hundred’s, if not thousand more that could be listed, for example seaweed, manuku honey, Acai berries along with various herbal remedies, but as I have not had any personal experience of these, I decided to not include these at this time on my favorites list. It’s interesting to me that there are many natural items that had been used by previous generations for centuries and in recent times, have lost their provenance, although some appear to be making a comeback, including some listed above. As previously mentioned, anything used to treat any health issue should be used sparingly and I would recommend for minor ailments only, anything that seems any more serious should always be referred to qualified professionals! Similarly, what’s right for one person may not be right for another, so although all the above should refer to natural ingredients, always check labeling on any products to make sure it’s safe for you to use, and stay safe and healthy!
if there is something that is a glaring omission that you swear by, then I would absolutely love to hear about and maybe I can try it and add to my Natural War Chest at home!
© 2014 Kieran Clarke