- Alternative & Natural Medicine»
- Herbal Remedies
What are the health benefits of lemon, cayenne and ginger?
Scientific evidence is sometimes skimpy when it comes to alternative medicines, but that doesn’t deter the many people that prefer to avoid traditional western medicine. Even if you don’t plan to replace your doctor with herbal concoctions, there are some old home remedies that may be worth considering.
One home remedy mainstay is lemon. A mild diuretic, lemon is high in immune boosting Vitamin C and has been proven to have antibacterial and antiviral properties. It’s been used for centuries to help treat digestive upsets like nausea, heartburn and constipation. Even if you’re not sold on the benefits, adding a little lemon juice to your glass of water is pretty tasty, so it certainly can’t hurt to try, can it?
Another home remedy superstar is cayenne pepper. More specifically, the credit goes to capsaicin, the chemical that provides the papper’s heat. While old school thinking is that spicy foods cause ulcers, science continues to back away from that idea. Consuming capsaicin increases digestive fluids in the stomach, which may improve digestion and help fight infection causing bacteria, including the H. pylori that is actually to blame for most ulcers.
Capsaicin has other benefits as well. Anyone that’s ever had a runny nose after eating a spicy meal has learned that capsaicin thins mucus, helping to move it out of the sinuses and lungs. There are even studies showing that capsaicin can boost the metabolism, even if only briefly, and may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Spicing things up could prove healthy as well as tasty.
A third miracle worker in the area of alternative medicine is ginger. For thousands of years, ginger has been used in herbal medicine to treat such ailments as headaches, nausea, and stomach cramps. This is an area where modern science has been able to back up the common folklore. No less an organization than the National Cancer Institute set up a double blind trial to test ginger’s efficacy in treating nausea. Several different doses were tested, but one thing remained constant – the ginger was consistently more effective than the placebo. Ginger has been used to relieve heartburn and gas, and it aids digestion by saliva and digestive enzymes. Ginger should not be given to children under the age of two. There are also indications that ginger’s usefulness in fighting nausea can decrease if used for more than a few days.
Like many home remedies, lemon, cayenne and ginger are generally considered safe, and for minor ailments it’s not likely that they would be damaging in moderation. That said, common sense is always in order. Home remedies aren’t the answer to all illnesses, so if symptoms are severe or prolonged, it might be wise to consult with a doctor to make sure that there isn’t a more serious illness involved. It’s also a good idea to check with your doctor before combining home remedies with any medications you may be taking; the fact that your home remedy is natural doesn’t mean that there’s no risk of drug interactions.