People have been practicing Ayurvedic medicine for 3,000 years. In "The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies," Dr. Vasant Lad introduces the modern reader to this complex, ancient form of medicine. He includes simple instructions for how to use Ayurvedic formulas for different conditions, like cold and flu symptoms, anxiety, depression, headaches, high cholesterol, and more. The ingredients from Dr. Lad’s formulas can be found at most health stores or easily ordered.
Soak feet nightly in 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water to eliminate odoriferous bacteria. Or take a daily foot bath in strong black tea (let it cool first) for 30 minutes. Tea's tannins kill bacteria and close the pores in your feet, keeping feet dry longer; bacteria tend to thrive in moist environments. You'll see results in a few days to a week. One caution: Do the soak only when your feet are free of cuts.
To calm a nagging cough that keeps you awake at night, take 2 teaspoons of honey (1 to 2 teaspoons for kids; don't give to children younger than 1), along with 500 mg of Ester C 30 minutes before bed. The vitamin C (nonacidic Ester type won't upset stomachs) boosts the immune system in the early stages of your cough. Research shows that honey works better than either a cough suppressant or no treatment at all for relieving children's nocturnal cough and promoting sleep.
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Just be sure to clean your humidifier before turning it on. Left neglected, a humidifier’s water tank can breed bacteria and fungi, which then get pumped into the air, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSP) safety alert. While this may not make your throat feel any worse, it could cause flu-like symptoms or exacerbate allergies or asthma.
ANNE KENNEDY is a writer who specializes in a wide variety of natural health, gardening, and sustainability topics. She has written several books on essential oils and herbal medicine, including The Portable Essential Oils (2016), Essential Oils Natural Remedies (2015), and Essential Oils for Beginners (2013). Self-sufficiency, an active outdoor lifestyle, and a strong focus on the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit serve as her inspiration and her cornerstone for healthy living. Anne lives and works from her home on a small organic farm in the mountains of West Virginia. Her favorite essential oil is frankincense.
Believe it or not, those annoying symptoms you're experiencing are part of the natural healing process -- evidence that the immune system is battling illness. For instance, a fever is your body's way of trying to kill viruses by creating a hotter-than-normal environment. Also, a fever's hot environment makes germ-killing proteins in your blood circulate more quickly and effectively. Thus, if you endure a moderate fever for a day or two, you may actually get well faster. Coughing is another productive symptom; it clears your breathing passages of thick mucus that can carry germs to your lungs and the rest of your body. Even that stuffy nose is best treated mildly or not at all. A decongestant, like Sudafed, restricts flow to the blood vessels in your nose and throat. But often you want the increase blood flow because it warms the infected area and helps secretions carry germs out of your body.
If you’re super stressed and worn out, your body’s immune system will have a harder time with the recovery process—so get some rest! Time in bed or away from life’s usual stressors—like work, taking care of the kids, and cleaning up the house—can help recharge your immune system, Dr. Finkelston says. Aim for at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
Salt water is a great home remedy for sore throat, as it can reduce swelling and calm inflammation and irritation. It may also help draw infections or irritants to the surface of your throat, where your body is better able to deal with them. Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water and gargle every hour or two, advises Mia Finkelston, MD, a Maryland-based family physician who also treats patients via LiveHealth Online.
Take two enteric-coated peppermint capsules (500 mg each) three times daily. Peppermint kills bacteria that cause bloating and relaxes gastrointestinal muscles for smoother, spasm-free digestion. The enteric coating prevents capsules from opening in the stomach and increasing discomfort by causing heartburn and indigestion. The peppermint releases and goes to work lower in the gastrointestinal tract, where gas-plagued people need it most. (See what your gas is trying to tell you.)
But you should limit use to a day or two. When used too much, OTC nasal decongestants can lead to a complication called rhinitis medicamentosa (RM), also known as rebound rhinitis. This condition is characterized by nasal congestion that is triggered by the overuse of topical vasoconstrictive medications, especially intranasal decongestants, says Raj Dasgupta, MD, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
Before bedtime, eat a handful of cherries (or drink tart cherry juice), which scientists discovered are jam-packed with melatonin, the same hormone created by your body to regulate sleep patterns. Then steep yourself in a hot bath to relax your muscles and your mind. In bed, rest your head on a lavender-filled pillow—the fragrance induces sleepiness. (Bonus: Cherries can help prevent gout attacks.)
When it comes to supplements, Vitamin C is a staple on my desk because it attacks the nucleic acid of the virus–and it keeps attacking the bacteria until it’s dead. I love Nature’s Way Whole Foods Vitamin C because it’s created with gorgeous whole food sources like Amla Berry, Acerola Cherry and Camu Camu. Because they’re whole foods they’re more bio-available to our bodies, which actually increases their immune-boosting properties.”