Good for what ails you
Here are a few simple home remedies. They are traditional medicinal cure-alls, passed down through generations, using plant-based ingredients from your garden, kitchen, or fridge to soothe all sorts of everyday ills. Always be certain before taking a plant-based remedy that you are not allergic to the ingredients.
Scrapes, cuts, and burns
There are a multitude of natural soothers for scrapes and burns, but lavender essential oil is one of the most practical and potent. Not only is it antibacterial and antiseptic, it’s also calming to the skin. To apply, soak a cotton ball with the oil (available at most health food stores) and apply directly to scraped skin. Lavender will simultaneously disinfect the wound and temper the pain.
A live aloe vera plant is always good to have on hand for treating unexpected scrapes, cuts, and burns. Cut an aloe leaf off at the base of the plant. (The outer leaves are the oldest and therefore contain the most amino acid-rich gel.) Slice the leaf in half and gently scrape out the gel. Rub it onto any sort of skin irritation, from mosquito bites to sunburns, for an instant cooling and soothing effect.
Another easy home fix for sunburned skin comes in the form of the everyday potato. Idaho, Red Bliss, no matter—each type possesses starch, which helps to soothe skin that’s been in the sun too long. Simply wash and grate two or three raw potatoes into a cup, adding a splash of water. Rub the mixture directly onto sunburned skin and allow to dry before washing off.
The key ingredient in most commercially made, over-the-counter stomach soothers is likely sitting somewhere in your pantry or at the back of your refrigerator. Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, reacts with stomach acids to help quell upset tummies and indigestion. Dissolve a teaspoon of the baking soda in a cup of warm water and drink for near-immediate relief.
Fresh, sliced ginger or a handful of fresh peppermint soothes the stomach when steeped in hot water as tea. Your spice rack is a natural source for relief as well. Chew on a few raw fennel seeds to aid digestion after a heavy meal.
Poison ivy and other rashes
Your pantry holds natural remedies for calming skin irritations and rashes. If you come into contact with poison oak or ivy, mix equal parts baking soda and white vinegar and apply the paste directly to the affected area. Leave the mixture on the rash until it dries completely. Rinse with lukewarm water, as hot water can further inflame the skin.
To relieve itchy skin or rashes, try drawing a lukewarm bath, adding in ½ cup of raw oats (wrap in cheesecloth to prevent making a mess of the tub), a tablespoon of baking soda, and two cups of white wine vinegar. Dip in and relax while the trio of ingredients works to moisturize, soothe, and calm your skin.
Sore throats and coughs
When it comes to the occasional cough and sore throat, there is no more powerful pairing than honey and garlic. Honey, with its antibacterial qualities, is a highly versatile natural medicine. Garlic, an antiviral and antifungal, is another potent ally against colds, coughs, and flu. Start by peeling and chopping three to four cloves of fresh garlic. Mix the cloves in a cup of honey and leave overnight, or for around 12 hours. Take one teaspoon of the honey-garlic concoction twice a day, every day, until the cough has dissipated.
Another tried-and-true method for kicking coughs and sore throats is to gargle with salt water. Stir a teaspoon of salt (natural sea salt is best) into a glass of warm water until it dissolves. Gargle the mixture—but don’t swallow, as salt can upset the stomach. Repeat every few hours.
A few drops of warm olive oil is a simple remedy to combat earaches naturally. Begin by heating about ½ cup of olive oil over very low heat, just until it is warm to the touch. Be careful not to overheat. Once the oil is warmed, use a clean dropper to place a few drops directly into the ear. The warm oil soothes inflammation within the eardrum and helps flush out trapped mucus, the cause of most common earaches.
The first and most obvious home remedy for a headache is a glass of water. Dehydration is often the culprit, so drink a glass or two as soon as you feel that first throb of pain in your temples.
If this doesn’t do the trick, another simple way to alleviate a headache is by preparing an at-home steam. Grab a large pot, fill with water, and bring to a boil. Add a handful of fresh herbs, such as lavender, rosemary, peppermint, and basil. Try a combo of all, or a few—each works as a decongestant. After adding the herbs, take the pot off the heat and carefully pour the mixture into a large, heat-resistant bowl. Cover your head with a towel and lean over the bowl, with your face around seven to twelve inches from the water’s surface. (If at first the steam is too hot, you can partially uncover your head.) Breathe deeply. Continue to inhale the fragrant steam for up to ten minutes. Repeat as needed.