In her recently released book, Alchemy of Herbs: Transform Everyday Ingredients into Foods and Remedies That Heal, Registered Herbalist Rosalee De La Forêt has one mission: to teach readers how to transform everyday ingredients into natural remedies. More plainly put, she wants to show you how to heal your body with foods and ingredients you already have in your kitchen cupboard.
I just got this book and I have to say, even though I am only half way through it, this book is a gem. It explains, in an easy to understand manner, how to address what ails you in a natural manner, with information from leading doctors. Health issues are alphabetical making it easy to search your concerns. It is comprehensive and will become a go to reference when this tired baby boomer couple is greeted with the next surprise health issue. ( I recall my parents saying at least you've got your health and thought what are they talking about. Now I know.) The author also tells you where to find the herbs and natural remedies referenced (i.e., what stores carry what is often noted) and this is very helpful.
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While you may have heard that gargling with apple cider vinegar has a similar effect, you should probably steer clear of this tactic for now, says Dr. Comer. “There is little doubt that apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and possibly antifungal properties in lab studies, but whether or not this translates into helping viral or bacterial sore throats is unknown,” he explains. “Additionally, there are potential significant issues to extended use of vinegar with the tooth enamel—vinegar is acidic, and repeated use can damage tooth enamel.”
While you may have heard that gargling with apple cider vinegar has a similar effect, you should probably steer clear of this tactic for now, says Dr. Comer. “There is little doubt that apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and possibly antifungal properties in lab studies, but whether or not this translates into helping viral or bacterial sore throats is unknown,” he explains. “Additionally, there are potential significant issues to extended use of vinegar with the tooth enamel—vinegar is acidic, and repeated use can damage tooth enamel.”
Acid reflux—which occurs when acids produced by your stomach make their way into the throat—is a common cause of a sore throat, Dr. Comer says. That means anything you do to stoke acid reflux could prolong or worsen a sore throat. For that reason, Dr. Comer recommends avoiding soda, fried foods, and citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. Also, skip food altogether for an hour before bed. Eating before you lie down can promote reflux and heartburn.
Crush a few fresh strawberries into a scrubbing pulp that you mix with a pinch of stain-removing baking soda and enough water to make a paste. Apply the mixture to a soft-bristled toothbrush and polish for a few minutes once every 3 or 4 months. (More often can erode tooth enamel.) The astringent malic acid in strawberries helps buff coffee and red-wine stains from teeth. (Here are 4 more foods that whiten teeth naturually.)
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.

Airborne allergies, such as pollen, indoor molds, or dust mites, can cause chronic low-grade throat inflammation. “Allergies are a very common cause of postnasal drip which can lead to throat pain,” Dr. Abramowitz says. To start, try taking a non-drowsy over-the-counter allergy medication containing cetirizine hydrochloride, such as Zyrtec or Claritin. Even if that seems to help, “it’s a good idea to get your allergies checked so you know what you’re dealing with,” Dr. Abramowitz says.
While this book has an interesting layout with lots of recipes, unfortunately it is not reliable. As someone with over twenty years of experience using herbs, it concerns me that people new to herbalism may be using this as a guide. For starters, this book doesn’t seem to differentiate between internal and external use such as the precaution not to use a ginger while taking certain medications at the end of a recipe for ginger salve when internal use is the only concern there. It also offers the precaution not to use a rosemary tincture hair product if you have epilepsy when that precaution refers to essential oil use, not tincture use. Not making these distinctions is sloppy and can lead to confusion. As another couple of examples, the photo accompanying the section on catnip (Nepeta cataria) is actually another more showy member of the Nepeta genus and the picture of chamomile is some kind of cultivated daisy which does make one wonder how familiar the author actually is with these plants. Reading through the book, I get the feeling the author has read studies and articles about the herbs but has little real practical experience or in-depth understanding of the herbs about which she is writing. While I'm certainly not familiar with every single application of common herbs, some of the applications she suggests don't seem to me to be based on either traditional use or scientific studies. Since she doesn't reference any studies or other herbalists or share her own anecdotal experiences, one does wonder where she comes up with certain applications such as feverfew as a nervine for fatigue from stress, as one example. There are plenty of other herbals out there which are not only more accurate but also more engaging. One such book which actually lives up to what this book purports to be is Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health.
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I absolutely recommend "Herbal Medicine: Natural Remedies" to everyone, except advanced herbalists and those who are very experienced and knowledgeable about different herbs, DIY recipes, and herbal remedies. For those people, this may be a bit too simplified. But for everyone else, this is really cool, fascinating stuff that is very correct in its information.
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.
Airborne allergies, such as pollen, indoor molds, or dust mites, can cause chronic low-grade throat inflammation. “Allergies are a very common cause of postnasal drip which can lead to throat pain,” Dr. Abramowitz says. To start, try taking a non-drowsy over-the-counter allergy medication containing cetirizine hydrochloride, such as Zyrtec or Claritin. Even if that seems to help, “it’s a good idea to get your allergies checked so you know what you’re dealing with,” Dr. Abramowitz says.

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.
While you may have heard that gargling with apple cider vinegar has a similar effect, you should probably steer clear of this tactic for now, says Dr. Comer. “There is little doubt that apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and possibly antifungal properties in lab studies, but whether or not this translates into helping viral or bacterial sore throats is unknown,” he explains. “Additionally, there are potential significant issues to extended use of vinegar with the tooth enamel—vinegar is acidic, and repeated use can damage tooth enamel.”
Preventive health means practicing healthy lifestyle behaviors that help protect you against diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. "Natural Health, Natural Medicine" is a combination of preventive health tips and alternative medicine techniques. The book offers healthy, simple recipes and tips for using alternative healing. It also provides research about the link between diet and certain chronic conditions.
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.
I am a big believer in natural remedies and alternative practices and smart approaches to health. I go to both a naturopath and an MD and learn from both. This book provides a great resource and I've not only read it cover to cover but gone back when specific problems are bothering me or I need a reminder. I've also given it to several friends who loved it as well.
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.
In general, a viral infection usually comes with other symptoms, like muscle aches and fatigue, along with your sore throat, says Chester Griffiths MD, an otolaryngologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. With a bacterial infection, on the other hand, the pain is usually more focused on your throat and the soreness tends to be pretty severe, Dr. Griffiths says. You may also have intense pain when you swallow, along with a high fever.
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.)
This is dangerous and doesn’t work -- don’t do it. The idea is, you place the unlit end of a lit, hollow candle into your ear, and that draws out the wax. But several things can go wrong: It can push earwax deeper in, candle wax can get inside your ear, it can puncture your eardrum, or it can burn your ear canal, face, scalp, or hair. See your doctor if you think you have a problem with earwax.
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