Natural Remedies

Grandma was right, at least partially. Many of her home remedies worked and are given greater credibility by the movement towards natural medicine in Western society. Asian cultures have embraced natural remedies for centuries and they never lost their legitimacy among those cultures. In the Western world, however, consumers are more interested than ever before in moving away from drugs towards nature’s remedies.

Remedies for What?

Naturopaths, homeopaths, and health food advocates say you can treat almost any chronic or acute condition with a well-chosen plant or mineral extract. There are treatments for eczema, anxiety, and heart burn; low blood pressure, high blood pressure, and headaches. Consumers use herbs to curb cravings and increase appetite; bring on labor and ease nausea. Forget over-the-counter drugs that assault your organs, cause drowsiness, or lead to other negative reactions: stick with nature’s pharmacy.

Why Natural Remedies?

What has caused consumers to become so interested in natural products? In certain parts of the world, medical consultations, treatments, and drugs are too costly for the average person to afford. There is no public health coverage and there are very few affordable insurance plans. Consumers have to turn to what they know and can afford when they become sick.

Homeopathic remedies sold in small vials and using tiny amounts of extracted plant essence cost a few dollars but they are considered highly effective. One can easily grow certain plants in a home garden at almost no cost.

Another reason that natural remedies are considered preferable to Western medicine is that they don’t cause side effects. Unless someone is allergic to a particular leaf or flower, relief from pain or inflammation doesn’t come at a cost to be paid later in the form of organ damage or a nasty rash. The body recognizes natural substances and will process them whereas it will store synthetic materials in fatty tissue.

Thirdly, the natural approach is to heal, not to mask symptoms of illness. Homeopaths, for instance, advance the idea that like cures like. If you suffer from a condition, take a natural substance which also produces symptoms of that condition and the body’s natural healing response will be stimulated. The result is cure, not cover-up.

What are Some Commonly Used Natural Remedies?

You have probably been using some of the following remedies for years but wondered if your mother or grandparent was just repeating old wives’ tales. Ginger ale helps relieve a sick feeling because it contains ginger, a natural nausea fighter. A cup of ginger tea or even boiled water with ginger root will work without causing drowsiness. The same goes for peppermint: suck a candy, drink some tea, or burn some peppermint oil to fill a room with that soothing aroma.

Apply aloe vera to a burn, even whole areas of skin affected by sunburn. You don’t need to buy medicated creams: break open the actual plant, which might already be on your windowsill, and extract the gel-like substance from within. Apply this safely to the affected area.

Children are often advised to soak a bruise, cut, or sting in salt water, particularly Epsom salts. Swelling comes down; pain is resolved; and if a splinter or stinger is stuck in the foot or hand it often comes out on its own once the area is no longer inflamed, floating benignly to the surface.

Actions, Not Products

You don’t need to see your doctor for every bruise or sprain. Sometimes the best thing to do is to apply first aid and see how you feel after a few hours. That intense pain people feel immediately after turning an ankle or falling hard onto their knees could ease if a bone is not broken. Do what the first aid books tell you: rest the area, apply ice, add a compression bandage, and elevate the affected area. A day later, replace ice with heat. If the pain doesn’t become less intense over the course of four or five hours, you might have a problem, but be sure you have followed all the steps carefully. This is a natural response to injury.

Are you feeling the winter blues? SAD, a seasonally triggered form of depression, can strike even if you have never noticed grey weather in the past. Fight depression during winter by sitting near a window where light exposure is longest and brightest. Purchase a special light from your pharmacist. Another natural anti-depressant is exercise: get out and walk, run, swim, cycle, or play a sport regularly. A dose of at least 20 minutes daily will have a positive effect on feelings of sadness and also anxiety.

Are you suffering from cyclical colds, headaches, and allergy symptoms? Open a window and clean out the air in your home or office. Even in winter, you need relief from stale, circulated forced air frequently full of unfiltered germs and allergens.

Eating Right

You have probably read in the news that North American diets make people sick. The natural response to this report is to change your diet. Call it a natural remedy for everything from heart disease to Type 2 Diabetes; ADHD to autism. A better diet might alleviate or even cure some symptoms such as high blood pressure and regular stomach discomfort. Doctors see amazing transformations when patients on death’s door cut out sugar and reduce fat. They lose weight, blood pressure levels out, and their patients come off of waiting lists for major surgery.

A diet consisting of several high-fiber foods, less sugar (especially synthetic sweeteners), no refined flours, healthy fat, and lean protein is ideal. In this sort of diet, calories are nutritious whereas the usual consumption of breads, refined grains, hydrogenated fats, and synthetic sugars is causing people in developed countries to become obese, to develop cardiac problems, is responsible for certain cancers, and even affects mental health.

Natural Remedies
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Jana Evans

Janet Evans is our resident Health Nut and aspiring chef. She can shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s with her eyes closed.