When it comes to tummy bugs, headaches and nausea, there’s often nothing more effective than the treatment Mother Nature can provide. So instead of running to the chemist, turn to one of these genius natural home remedies to nurse you back to health without breaking the bank.
If you have nausea, try ginger
A study of 2 000 naval cadets found that those who were given one gram of ginger root suffered less seasickness and fewer cold sweats than the group given a placebo. It’s thought the active ingredients, gingerol and shogaol, inhibit the part of the brain that controls vomiting. To alleviate motion or morning sickness, naturopath Dr Sohère Roked suggests chopping or grating 2cm of fresh ginger to use in cooking or made into tea.
If you have toothache, eat cloves
Cloves contain a chemical compound that acts as an analgesic. Either apply a clove directly to the sore area, or crush a clove up with water into a paste, then apply to the tooth.
…OR eat sesame seeds
Toothache can be caused by tooth decay or a gum infection, but whatever the cause, sesame seeds contain seven pain-relieving compounds to help ease the ache. ‘Put four teaspoons of sesame seeds into a cup of boiling water and leave to cool,’ suggests Dr Roked. ‘With toothache, you need a localised treatment, so use a cotton bud to apply the liquid around the tooth and gum. You should get some relief within an hour.’
If you have anxiety, eat bananas
No need for beta –blockers… try a banana! Some musicians and actors swear that munching bananas before a performance can calm the nerves. Bananas are full of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce melatonin and serotonin, hormones that promote feelings of calmness.
They are also high in potassium, which can help to regulate blood pressure — which is often raised if you’re anxious. The potassium in bananas also makes them a great hangover cure – basically they’re one of the best natural remedies ever!
If you have insomnia, eat kiwi fruit
If the struggle to sleep is keeping you awake, try have some kiwis for supper. Researchers found that people who ate two kiwis an hour before bedtime experienced better sleep quality and duration. It could be because the fruit has high levels of seratonin. Low levels of seratonin are associated with insomnia. Kiwis are also rich in folate — a deficiency of which can also cause sleep problems. A genius — and delicious — home remedy.
If you have no energy, drink yerba maté tea
You can find yerba maté tea at most health stores or buy it online at yerbamatesouthafrica.com. This herbal tea has a caffeine content roughly the same as coffee, giving you the same energy boost. It’s also rich in antioxidants – roughly 90% more than green tea. Also, its chemical compounds and nutrients affect your metabolism so that you get more energy from the food you eat.
If you have high cholesterol, eat pears
Soluble fibre, like pectin found in pears, can reduce the absorption of LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol into your bloodstream. Pectin binds with cholesterol and helps carry it out of the body before it does you any damage. A pear contains about 3.5g of fibre and the recommended average daily intake is 18g.
If you have IBS, eat fennel
Fennel contains a powerful essential oil called anethole. Anethole is an anti-inflammatory that reduces the amount of chemical signals released by some white blood cells that encourage localised inflammation. This fragrant oil is also responsible for fennel’s anti-spasmodic effect, which is why fennel seed tea is often taken to alleviate stomach cramps and period pain — making it one of the most versatile natural remedies.
If you have a stomach bug, try garlic
Garlic works as a natural antibiotic, so it can kill bacteria that causes stomach upsets. But it must be eaten raw. ‘When you cook garlic, you kill off allicin – the antibiotic, antifungal compound found in garlic,’ warns Dr Roked. ‘It might be easier and gentler on your breath to take a supplement, but make sure the pills contain raw garlic. Taken regularly, garlic boosts immunity so you probably won’t get stomach upsets.’
If you have constipation, have pure olive oil
Pure olive oil is more than just a healthy fat – its texture and consistency are a perfect home remedy for constipation. Just take a tablespoon of olive oil and lemon juice in the morning before you eat anything else. It will stimulate your digestive system, which helps get things moving around your colon. Taken regularly, it can even prevent constipation.
If you have high blood pressure, eat beetroot
If your numbers are a bit high, then beetroot might be your new best friend. It contains nitrate, which is converted into nitric acid when we eat it. This makes the muscular walls of the blood vessels relax and decrease blood pressure. Have it juiced, grated raw in a salad or roasted in chunks. Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring!
If you have blocked sinuses, eat horseradish
Horseradish contains a cocktail of chemicals that can thin mucus and help clear it from your sinuses. Grate fresh horseradish, or take a spoonful from a jar, and inhale it. If you’re really feeling brave, you can hold it in your mouth for a minute or two.
If you have PMS, eat weet-bix or fortified cereals
Research shows that women who regularly eat foods high in thiamine (B1) riboflavin (B2) are less likely to get PMS. Lots of fortified cereals contain these B vitamins — but check the food label to make sure you don’t choose ones loaded with sugar. Eating breakfast and curing your ailments with natural remedies in one go? Winning!
If you have menstrual cramps, try more calcium
Calcium can help reduce muscle cramping during menstruation. It’s available in supplement form and you can get hold of natural calcium from health shops. You can also add more calcium to your diet through natural foods: add sesame seeds to stir fries, or try frying almond flakes in olive oil and sprinkling on your salads. Dairy products and leafy green veg also contain high levels of calcium.
If you have heartburn, eat turmeric
Heartburn is the burning sensation in the upper chest we get after a rich meal, but instead of reaching for Gaviscon, try your spice rack. ‘The burning occurs when acid builds up,’ says Dr Roked. ‘You can speed digestion by having a spoonful of turmeric in your food or after a meal, dissolved in hot water. It helps the gall bladder produce bile, which breaks the food down faster, so it doesn’t hang around long enough to cause heartburn.’
If you have joint pain, try chillies
Twisted your ankle trying carry two children at once? Try grinding chillies into a paste, then add them to a base cream or oil and apply to the affected area. The capsicum in chillies increases the pain-signalling chemical, then blocks its re-uptake by the nerve, stopping the pain signal to the brain. This is a really great emergency home remedy for treating sprains and muscle pain.
If you have sore muscles, drink cherry juice
Muscles hurt when they’re inflamed after exercise or a strain, so any food with anti-inflammatory properties will ease this type of pain, according to Dr Roked. Cherries are rich in anthocyanins, giving them their beautiful colour and their anti-inflammatory effects. Studies show that eating quite a few cherries or drinking pure cherry juice can help relieve muscle pain and even gout.
If you have burns or blisters, try aloe vera
Whether you’ve singed your fingers on the oven or damaged your feet with your new party heels (worth it!), the aloe plant in your garden can help. After running the burn under cold water for 10 minutes, break off the tip of an aloe leaf and apply the oozing gel directly to the burn or blister. It’s also a great soothing remedy for sunburn.
…OR apply apple cider vinegar for painful blisters
New shoes giving you trouble? A natural way of getting rid of painful blisters is to apply apple cider vinegar. Soaking your blistered foot is best and most effective. Otherwise, put some vinegar on a cotton pad and dab onto the affected area. Apple cider vinegar has antibacterial properties that help prevent infection.
If you have a sore throat, drink sage tea
The antibacterial, astringent properties of sage will soothe the pain of a sore throat within two hours, says Dr Roked. To make a sage spray, take a handful of sage leaves, steep them in a teapot with boiling water and leave to cool. This liquid can then be sprayed on the back of your throat, or just drink it as a tea.
If you have a headache, drink coffee
We get headaches when the blood vessels in our head expand, but the caffeine in a cup of coffee helps constrict the vessels and relieve the pressure that causes pain. ‘Caffeine is in a lot of painkillers because it makes the drugs 40% more effective,’ explains Dr Roked. ‘Just two cups of coffee should boost brain activity and get your head pain-free within minutes, with no need for painkillers.’
…OR if you have migraines, eat pumpkin seeds
Raw pumpkin seeds are a rich source of magnesium, and studies have indicated that upping your intake of magnesium can reduce migraine attacks by relaxing the nerves and muscles. Especially if they’re migraines related to PMS. Aim for 60g to 85g a day; sprinkle the seeds over salads or yoghurt or blend them with basil and olive oil to make pesto.
If you have backache, eat celery
This salad staple contains a compound, called 3-N-Butylphthalide in case you were wondering, which is a powerful painkiller. Author of Medicinal Cookery (Paperback Publishers) Dale Pinnock, has found it useful in cases of arthritis, sprains and for people who experience ongoing pain. Eat it raw or juiced, but not cooked, as cooking breaks down the compound.
If you have chapped lips, try honey
The antibacterial properties of honey will have your cracked lips ready for kissing in no time. Apply directly to your lips and let it dry. Try your best not to lick it off, even though this is one of the more tasty natural remedies!
… OR use honey for mild burns
Very mild burns can be treated with a layer of honey. ‘Manuka honey has the strongest antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of all honey,’ explains Dr Roked. First, put the burn under cool running water, then spread a thin layer of honey, about a teaspoon’s worth, directly onto your burn and dress it. Honey’s antibacterial properties may help minor burns heal more quickly.
If you have eczema, try oats
Fill a muslin bag or nylon stocking with a handful of oats. Add the bag to your bath or use it as a soothing bath mitt. Oats contain anti-inflammatory compounds which help to soothe skin