Resistance to antibiotics is something we’re hearing more and more about in the media. The Telegraph recently reported Prof. Dame Sally Davies urging the public, “if we don’t take action, in 20 years’ time we could be back in the 19th century where infections kill us as a result of routine operations.” Another Telegraph article stated that Professor Les of Cardiff University Baillie is “leading a team that is looking into whether old-fashioned cures such as tea and honey, could be the next way to take on superbugs.” Apparently scientists are looking at the old fashioned natural remedies of tea and honey. Tea contains compounds called polyphenols that have health benefits including their ability to kill micro-organisms and raw Manuka honey is known for it’s anti-bacterial properties.
With the cost of medical bills becoming yet another issue for consumers in this depressed economy, it’s not only superbugs that might benefit from natural remedies. There are a myriad of ailments that you can treat and illness you can prevent with natural ingredients that not only do you good, they can also improve your bank balance.
The Huffington Post published an article about Caribbean remedies that use plants to cure and heal. The article says that “in the Caribbean, these are some of the most common fruits and plants to naturally heal the body. Dr. Gilbertha St. Rose, a dermatologist and herbalist based in St. Lucia, says on the islands, people have been using herbs, spices and plants to naturally heal pain and ward off illnesses for decades.”
Keep a drum of bicarbonate of soda handy to treat all manner of ills. A thick paste applied topically soothes stings and bites and can help with splinter removal. To treat jellyfish stings, mix with white vinegar and apply directly to the irritation. For Athlete’s foot – and sore, aching feet – a soda soak is a soothing, effervescent treatment
A spoonful added to water can be used as a denture cleansing solution. Swallowed down, it rapidly treats painful heartburn and digestive discomfort. Add lemon juice for a gargle that soothes a sore throat and works as a deodorizing, antibacterial mouthwash. A thick paste of the same ingredients makes a great facial cleanser.
Bicarbonate of soda dusted under your arms or sprinkled into shoes absorbs moisture and odours just like conventional deodorants – and can also be used in place of packaged ‘dry shampoos’ to freshen up greasy hair when applied in small amounts at the roots.
Honey has been used medicinally since ancient times, and is a powerful antiseptic and antioxidant. A spoonful of Manuka honey, in particular, is supposed to guard against all manner of health problems, whilst all varieties are thought to boast anticarcinogenic properties. Mix honey with raw garlic and eat for a pungent but powerful antiviral treatment. Alone, it eases the symptoms associated with peptic ulcers and helps digestion – and may even reduce hangovers. Honey can be applied neat directly onto wounds and is particularly effective on burns, whilst its antifungal properties make it a handy treatment for Athlete’s foot or thrush.
Mixed with lemon and ginger in hot water, honey soothes and lubricates a sore throat, and eases a tickly cough. Consumption of local flower honeys can help with hayfever, boosting tolerance to native pollens. Taken with black pepper and ginger, honey is believed to aid asthmatics – and it aids all-comers with ‘regularity’.
Handfuls of herbs
Herbs aren’t just for adding fabulous flavours to your food – they can also help with health. The simplest way to get the benefit is to consume as a tea or tisane, or infuse herbs in neutral carrier oils or witch hazel to apply externally and topically. Rosemary and peppermint oils, in particular, are great lubricants for massaging aching muscles, and lavender is good for headaches and insomnia.
To make herb teas, just pour boiling water over your chosen herbs and allow to steep to the desired strength. You can drink hot or cold, of even use the cooled liquid on your body as a remedy. Basil tea is a particularly good eye wash, and drinking the tea promotes a feeling of calm – as does camomile. Peppermint and fennel teas helps ease digestive discomfort.
Basil tea is also effective in easing migraines – mix the cooled infusion with chilled witch hazel and soak a flannel in the solution before applying as a compress. Nettles may sting if you brush against them, but boiled up as a beverage they are known to take the sting out of urinary tract infections. Toronto-based herbalist Marcia Dixon was quoted in Best Health Magazine as saying, “anytime you’re ingesting something, you’re giving your body the building blocks it needs to manufacture tissues and hormones. If you drink tea every day, you can make all sorts of significant changes to your mood, your skin, your sense of well-being and energy.”
Spices have long been known for their powerful medicinal qualities. It’s important to use spice-based remedies both judiciously and correctly – for instance, consuming too much nutmeg may induce psychoactive symptoms. Used carefully, though, spices are excellent alternatives to chemical medicines.
Fiery ginger is best known for fighting nausea – teas, biscuits, lozenges and ales containing the spice are all known to calm a bad stomach. A compress soaked in a solution of hot water and ginger is an effective anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. In Ayurveda, ‘chywanaprash’ – a mixture of ghee, brown sugar and ginger – is taken daily to promote excellent digestion.
Turmeric paste stains like nothing else, but is a strong and effective antiseptic that can be applied directly to the skin and packed into wounds. Juniper tea is thought to be a strong antibacterial remedy for colds and viruses. For vomiting, powdered cardamom mixed to a paste with honey and consumed works as an anti-emetic.
You need yogurt
Yogurt is well-known for promoting healthy digestion and as an excellent source of protein and calcium, but the humble fridge staple has many uses besides. A daily dose of live yogurt added to the diet benefits most people, with the cultures thought to improve digestion and significantly reduce the symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
Yogurt can also boost immunity, and it’s been suggested that it may be worth upping consumption prior to a hospital stay. Apply chilled plain yogurt to sunburned skin for instant relief. It can be used as a spot treatment, mixed with ground rice and rubbed onto pimples. It’s effective in treatment of yeast infections – both consumed daily as a preventative and applied directly to the irritated area.
From the kitchen cupboard to the bathroom cabinet, natural remedies are lurking all over the home. So, next time you’re under the weather, give the pharmacy a miss and see if you can cure your ills for a fraction of the price without even leaving home.