Ask around like we did and sure enough you begin to acquire a valuable database of folk remedies. Everyone we asked had a home remedy or two; a grandmother's remedy to cure gout (apple cider vinegar), a sister's Ayurvedic remedy to stop diarrhea within minutes (turmeric), an old Mexican cure for a nagging cough (garlic). Thrilled to have this treasure chest of recipes to cure acute and chronic conditions, we started to post these remedies on Earth Clinic back in 1999. Not long after that, our readers started responding with their own family remedies. If you don't see what you're looking for in this Home Remedies section, please check out our extensive Ailments section.
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.
Alternatively, make a steam bowl. To do this, fill a large bowl with hot water. Add herbs or essential oils, such as eucalyptus or rosemary, which may also relieve decongestion. Lean over the bowl and place a towel over the head. This traps the steam. Inhale the vapors for 5 minutes. If the steam feels hot on the skin, discontinue until the skin cools down.
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 are interested in learning more about herbal medicines and natural remedies—either to grow and harvest your own herbs or solely to further your knowledge—we’ve put together a curated list of our favorite books currently on the market. Some include recipes, others contain information about identifying herbs in their natural environment, but they all are comprehensive, straight-forward, and written by experts in the field.
Reviews | “My favorite part of this book was the layout of the herb profiles; it's something I don't often see, but it's my favorite way to read it in a book. The detail of the reproductive systems of the herbs and their parts is phenomenal, and the photography is simply amazing. The whole book is beautifully put together.” – Giovanna Mealer, Amazon Review
Gargle with a small cup of acidic lemon juice to kill odor-causing bacteria. Then eat a bit of plain unsweetened yogurt, which contains beneficial lactobacillus bacteria. These so-called probiotics compete with and replace the reeking bacteria. (They also make you prettier—check it out!) The lemon-yogurt combo instantly neutralizes odor and lasts 12 to 24 hours.
Dry air can irritate a sore throat, prolonging your recovery time. Taking a steamy shower or using a humidifier can bring moisture back into the air, thus relieving any discomfort. “The mucus membranes of the nose and throat love moisture,” Dr. Abramowitz says. “Steam provides moisture and warmth, which helps the vocal cords calm down and decrease in swelling.” The moisture in your nose can also help clear out mucus and gunk, which can be part of the problem, he adds.
Try relaxing magnesium (200 to 400 mg) to reduce the muscle tension and spasms that can cause your noggin to throb. But not any type will do. Make sure the supplement contains at least 200 mg of active elemental magnesium. Because magnesium is more preventive than curative, the treatment works best on, say, premenstrual headaches because you can predict when they're coming and take a dose a day in advance. Those with kidney problems should consult a health care practitioner before taking magnesium. (Here are 3 more natural remedies for your headache.)
Anyone who calls herbs hazardous is totally misinformed. Every year the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) compiles statistics on accidental deaths from drugs, herbs, vitamins, and other supplements. The AAPCC’s most recent report (2008) records 1,756 accidental poisoning deaths. How many were attributable to medicinal herbs? Zero. In every accidental death caused by a pharmacological agent, the culprit was a pharmaceutical. And it’s been that way for many years. Herbs are safer than drugs.
Reviews | “I love the simplicity of introducing herbs through food and cooking. Food should always be our first medicine…I like that [the recipes] are all very doable: no specialized equipment, no huge orders of exotic herbs and spices and no tricky culinary skills required. The author has done a remarkable job of making herbal support both legitimate to the doubtful and accessible to the open-minded.” – Sue Kusch, Amazon Review
You put a salt and warm water mixture in something that looks like a little teapot. Then pour it through one nostril and let it drain out the other. You have to practice a little, but once you get the hang of it, it can ease allergy or cold symptoms and may even help you get rid of a cold quicker. Just make sure you use distilled or cooled boiled water and keep your neti pot clean.