Before over the counter medications became so readily accessible, home remedies were simply things that were tried and found to be successful at treating health problems. Often times, they had been handed down for many generations. Today, we call them home remedies but when they were first discovered, those solutions were all that the people had to treat themselves.
With increasing focus on health issues caused by some medications and related products, homemade solutions are becoming popular again. A bonus to knowing what is in the products that you make is the fact most of the ingredients you likely already have on hand, or is inexpensive and easy to obtain.
Some of the remedies here are modern spins on old ones to make them a little more convenient to use. We always recommend using organic whenever possible to achieve maximum benefit from your remedy.
Over time, plaque can build up on teeth. Plaque readily becomes stained from food, beverages, and tobacco. It is recommended that you get your teeth cleaned twice each year, but in between cleanings these suggestions can keep that staining to a minimum, and also works on whitening your teeth’s enamel.
A. Coconut Oil
– Swish 1-2 teaspoons of unrefined extra virgin coconut in your mouth twice a day before brushing. Swish for 10-15 minutes, then spit out into the garbage; do not swallow or spit into the sink (may clog plumbing).
B. Baking Soda
– Combine a small amount of water with approximately ½ teaspoon baking soda to make a paste for brushing your teeth. Alternately, combine baking soda with coconut oil to make a paste instead of water. Do not swallow.
C. Hydrogen Peroxide
– Combine equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and water to use as a mouth wash prior to brushing. Swish for one minute and spit out; do not swallow! Alternately, combine a small amount of hydrogen peroxide with baking soda to use as toothpaste. Do not swallow.
A headache can strike at any time from triggers such as tension, stress, allergies, sinus congestion, and dehydration; sometimes it is a combination. Tension can simply be tightened muscles in your neck or shoulders. Stress is an emotional factor that can cause tension, elevated blood pressure, and clenched teeth which can all contribute to pounding in your head. Allergies (both seasonal and food related), sinus congestion and dehydration (even a little dehydration) can all be linked together since they rarely exist without at least one of the others.
A. Essential Oils
– Essential oils can be used to help induce relaxation and thereby reducing both tension and stress; lavender, peppermint, and rosemary in a carrier oil can be rubbed on shoulders, neck and temples for quick relief. Essential oils can also combat seasonal allergies and sinus congestion; a few drops of eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and/or rosemary on a cotton ball can be inhaled deeply to help open nasal passages.
– Soak in a bath tub with Epson salts. If hot water aggravates the headache, soak just your feet in a tub; essential oils may also be added to the water (avoid using peppermint in the bath as it may irritate sensitive skin).
– Take a magnesium supplement. Most people do not get enough magnesium in their diet. Chelated magnesium is the best form for absorption, otherwise, magnesium chloride is recommended. Start with 200mg daily and increase slowly; too much magnesium can cause diarrhea. Supplementing with magnesium can be used as both an acute remedy or as a long-term treatment for headaches.
– Use a magnesium oil spray; this is a quick way to get the benefits of magnesium while bypassing the intestinal upset. Magnesium oil is actually a salt, which can irritate sensitive skin. Apply to legs, arms and/or back; leave on skin for at least 15 minutes. Remove with a damp washcloth if desired.
– Water makes up 70% of blood. Drinking purified water will help alleviate dehydration, lower blood pressure, and help reduce sinus congestion. Plain warm water is absorbed quickly by the body. Chilled water or water with flavorings such as lemon, lime, or cucumber will take a little longer; the important part is to drink it. Hot herbal teas with chamomile, lavender, and other calming herbs can also help.
3. Gas and Bloating
Digestive upset is one of the main causes for gas and bloating. True digestive health can take many steps to accomplish, but there a few quick remedies to treat gas and bloating when they strike.
A. Baking Soda
– Mix a teaspoon of baking soda in a cup of water and drink it. This helps soothe an irritated stomach. Some people find better results from adding a squeeze of lemon juice to the water.
B. Caraway Seeds and Ginger
– Caraway seeds and ginger both strengthen digestion which can result in less gas production and therefore less bloating. Many herbal teas designed to aid digestion often contain both of these spices; they do not have to be used together to get relief but they do work well together. Ginger can also be used whole, grated, or ground depending on your preference.
– Peppermint is calming to the digestive system. Whole leaves of the plant can be chewed or they can be brewed as tea. Beware of candies that say they are peppermint but have only peppermint flavoring and not real peppermint oil. Ingesting peppermint essential oil is not recommended, instead put a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil in a carrier oil and rub it on your tummy.
Nausea can sometimes accompany gas and bloating, but the cause and treatment is slightly different. For example, one reason for nausea could be simply overeating.
– Papaya is a fruit that contains natural digestive enzymes that can also soothe a stomach that is threatening to purge its contents.
– Ginger is the go-to treatment when it comes to nausea caused by motion sickness, pregnancy, and side effects from medication such as chemotherapy. It is a very grounding herb and can help settle a person energetically. Chewing on slices of ginger or sipping tea made from steeping ginger slices in the hot water can provide quick relief. I also know of a chewing gum made with real ginger that you can keep with you wherever you go.
– Fennel seeds have a potent flavor of licorice, but should not be confused with anise (the real licorice flavoring). Fennel seeds can be used to make tea by crushing the seeds and allowing them to steep in boiling water. Fennel should not be consumed by anyone who is pregnant or breast feeding. Caution should be used by those being treated for a blood clotting disorder, low blood pressure, or low blood sugar.
First and second degree burns can be easily treated at home as long as the skin is not broken or infected. Burns to the skin can be quite painful and care needs to be taken to keep further damage from occurring to the skin involved. Sunburn is also included in this category.
A. Aloe Vera
– The inside of the leaves of the aloe vera plant has wonderful healing properties and is naturally anti-bacterial. If you have one of these plants, simply cut off a leaf, cut it open, scrape the gel like part out, and apply it directly to the burn. Raw aloe gel (for human consumption) can also be purchased if you need a lot of it.
B. Egg Whites
– The white of an egg contains collagen and proteins which are nourishing to skin. Placing cold egg white (separated from the yolk) directly on the burn will immediately help remove the pain and can reduce the severity of the burn. The egg white should be kept moist; once it dries, wash it off with cool water. Reapply if desired.
C. Essential Oils
– Essential oils lavender, German chamomile, and St. John’s wort can be used individually or combined in a carrier oil for application to the burned skin. Organic olive oil makes a great carrier oil found around most homes.
The body uses the cough reflex to rid itself of something it finds irritating to the throat or lungs. A cough associated with sinus congestion from a cold or allergies can sometimes be unrelenting, especially when it is a dry cough. Not only can the cough itself be a problem, so can the soreness that is caused by the cough.
A. Pineapple Juice
– It is worth keeping an unsweetened can of pineapple chunks around the house, especially during cold and flu season. A couple tablespoons of pineapple juice is even more effective at stopping a cough than the leading cough syrup.
B. Ginger, Cinnamon, and Honey
– Tea made by boiling ginger slices in water, then adding a cinnamon stick and honey once the water is strained into a cup is very soothing to the throat and can help calm a cough. Manuka honey has amazing healing properties, but can be hard to find. If you don’t have fresh ginger and cinnamon sticks, place ground ginger and a pinch of cinnamon in a tea bag (not a tea ball) made for loose tea. The tea bag will act as a filter to keep the ground herbs from getting loose in the water and becoming an irritant to your throat. Both ginger and cinnamon are potent herbs and can quickly overpower the tea so start with a small amount of each until you find the right amount for you.
Pain in a tooth or gum is serious and should be looked at by a dentist. However, when pain strikes after hours, there are a few things that can help you manage the pain until your dentist’s office reopens.
– Ground cloves mixed with water to create a paste can be applied directly to the tooth or gum and held in place with a piece of gauze until the pain subsides. Clove has a natural numbing effect and is highly antibacterial, making it a good choice if you don’t mind the taste of cloves.
– Crush a clove of garlic and put it directly on the tooth or gum; hold it in place with a piece of sterile gauze. Powered garlic made into a paste with water will not be as effective as using a fresh piece of garlic. Garlic can be overpowering to your senses, making the next remedy a good alternative.
C. Salt Water or Salt and Pepper Paste
– Make a mouth rinse with sea salt or Himalayan salt and water. Make the rinse as salty as you can get it. Swish it around in your mouth for several minutes, then spit it out. Repeat if pain has not diminished. You can also make a paste of salt, pepper, and a little water. Apply this paste directly to the painful tooth or gum and hold in place with a piece of gauze. Remember to spit out the paste after several minutes.
8. General Aches and Pains
From time to time we all experience some sort of muscle ache or joint pain. From minor arthritis pain to sprains, strains, or just over-doing it, relief can come in a variety of ways.
A. Turmeric and Black Pepper
– By consuming turmeric along with black pepper, the result is as good as taking an aspirin. The recommended dose is 1/8th teaspoon turmeric and a pinch of black pepper taken twice per day with food. It can also be found in capsule form (just make sure the formula contains black pepper). Please note that turmeric can thin your blood so use with caution if have coagulation problems or are on medication to thin blood.
– Taken internally, herbs such as devil’s claw, white willow bark, and boswellia have all been shown to reduce pain and inflammation. They can be purchased in most health food stores in capsule form. Use as directed on the label.
C. Arnica Montana
– Also known as wolf’s bane or leopard’s bane, this herb comes in various forms for application directly to the painful area. Some of the forms include gel, cream, ointment, and oil based preparations. Arnica quickly reduces pain and inflammation, and is particularly helpful when applied immediately following a contusion that doesn’t break the skin; it even minimizes bruising. It can also be added to an oil for sore muscle massage.
Good quality sleep is critical to good health but, unfortunately, many things can keep you from resting well. Stress, pain, and imbalanced hormones are a few of the most common causes and each one of these can affect the other two. Sometimes, the most effective solution to insomnia is to combine several solutions.
A. Essential Oils
– Essential oils can be used in a diffuser right next to the bed, or applied topically in a carrier oil or cream to your neck, shoulders, and chest. Lavender, Roman chamomile, sandalwood, orange, and frankincense all help to quiet the mind and the body to relax.
– Herbs such as valerian, chamomile, passion flower, holy basil, rhodiola, and ashwagandha also help to reduce tension in your body. Sipping a hot cup of tea brewed with them at bedtime is a great way to unwind. They can also be found in capsule form; whole herb products are the most effective. Take as directed on the label.
C. Breathing Exercises
– Increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood stream is one of the quickest ways to help your body relax. Too often, our breathing is shallow and ineffective. Deep breathing exercises activate the parasympathetic receptors in your lungs causing your cortisol levels to drop while increasing oxygen to your brain thereby inducing relaxation. Try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise: Inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds; repeat for one minute.
Although there are several different types of acne, most involve blocked pores and bacteria. Diet, hormonal imbalances, poor hygiene, stress, and environmental factors can all play a role in the development of acne. Avoiding sugar and processed foods, daily washing, avoiding contact with contaminated substances (including hands), and reducing stress are all ways to reduce the occurrence of acne. To safely and effectively treat acne, the bacteria needs to be kept under control. Topical treatments don’t need to be toxic to be effective.
A. Colloidal Silver
– Silver is scientifically proven to kill bacteria. Colloidal silver in a cosmetic gel is a homeopathic antibacterial treatment that is effective when applied directly to the acne. It is safe to use even if the skin is broken. It is also effective on sebaceous cysts when used long term.
B. Tea Tree Oil
– Tea tree oil is a powerful antibacterial agent that has been used to treat many forms of localized infection with great success. It does have a strong smell, and is yellow in color so it may not be your first choice for discreet use.
C. Coconut Oil
– Raw, unrefined coconut oil is naturally antibacterial. While it may seem counter-intuitive to put oil where you have acne, it is actually nourishing to the skin while it kills bacteria on and in the skin. Apply a light coating of coconut nut oil and allow it to stand on the skin for a minute, then wipe off with a clean cloth.
Many of these suggestions have come from personal use around my home. I hope you find them as helpful as my family and I do.
Home Remedies. (n.d.). Retrieved from Top 10 Home Remedies: http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/