Ouch! They’re at it again. A bee sting never gets any easier, does it? Or, itch! You may have had a million bites over the years, but the mosquitoes keep coming back to attack. And…ahh…choo! Sure, it’s summer, but that doesn’t stop the common cold or hayfever from taking hold.
Whenever we suffer from annoying ailments, the go-to is usually ‘Dr Google’. After the inevitable doom-scrolling, we’re reminded that it’s highly unlikely that the blister on our finger or toe will end in anything sinister and pop to the local pharmacy for an easy medicinal solution. While the benefits of modern medicine are not to be dismissed, when it comes to minor ailments, most of us have bathroom cupboards filled with lotions and potions that have probably only been used once.
Natural Remedies to the Rescue
The good news is there are plenty of natural alternatives that will not only work wonders on small cuts and bruises but will also help create some much-needed space in your bathroom. While some may be sceptical of the effectiveness of natural remedies, scientific discoveries in recent decades have shown that plant-based cures aren’t just old wives’ tales.
The practice of using natural remedies – medicines made from herbs and plants – dates back thousands of years when, long before local pharmacy chains, there were fruit trees, honeybees, and herb gardens. Chances are you’ve used one at some point: herbal teas for a cold, essential oils for a headache, plant-based supplements for a good night’s sleep. Maybe it was from your grandma or you read about it online.
But herbal supplements can interact with conventional medicines or have strong effects so don’t self-diagnose. People with medical conditions, or women who are pregnant or nursing, should always consult their health care provider before trying natural remedies.
Here’s just a few of our favourites that can work their magic on coughs, cuts and bruises.
Lavender for sleep
This fragrant ‘garden’ scent has anxiety and insomnia-relieving effects, and lavender essential oil is not only potent, but well-documented. Research has found that just a few drops in a warm bath or diffuser can help induce sleep and help people sleep more deeply. Therefore, it is an aid to depression, mood swings and stress. Lavender also calms the skin, reducing redness and healing blemishes, and stimulating circulation for improved skin tone. Try popping it on a mosquito bite and feel the itchiness subside.
Baking Soda for swelling
Found in most over the counter medicines, this has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. It can relieve swelling and itching associated with skin rashes, soothe cuts, scrapes, burns, insect stings, and mouth ulcers. Pop it on a minor mouth wound before going to bed and wake up pain free!
Mint for digestion
Commonly used to treat inflammation in the stomach, mint can be a great natural remedy for expecting mothers experiencing morning sickness. It works by activating the enzymes necessary for digestion. And if you’re constantly struggling with a recurring cold, mint helps clear the congestion from your nose, throat and lungs. Moreover, the antibacterial property of this natural remedy helps in relieving irritation caused by coughing.
Ginger for nausea
From colds and sore throats, to sickness and nausea, ginger is a powerhouse natural remedy and excellent anti-inflammatory. Experts say that consuming up to 4 g of ginger a day may help manage pain and inflammation but always talk to your health care provider before using natural remedies alongside conventional medicine. Grate this superfood in your tea, chop or grate it into sauces, salad dressings, or right on top of your salad for a strong medicinal effect.
Chilli peppers for joint pain
Fiery peppers pack some serious health benefits. When it comes to vitamin C, they beat oranges 3 to 1. They’re also brimming with vitamins A, B, and E. According to studies, chilli, ginger, and other spices can reduce inflammation. For sore muscular body pain, capsaicin – the chemical that gives chilies and peppers their kick – works on pain by causing the skin to get hot, before making it numb. That’s why it’s used in topical treatments in cream or as a dermal patch for joint pain.
Garlic for a multitude of ailments
Historically, garlic – recognised for fighting bacteria, viruses, fungi, and even parasites – was used on wounds to improve healing and ward off infection. It has been used over the centuries to treat bronchitis, high blood pressure, liver disorders, flatulence, rheumatism, diabetes and fevers. Although no official recommendations exist, studies show that eating one to two raw cloves per day may have health benefits.
Reishi Mushroom for relaxation
A popular fungus in Eastern medicine for boosting the immune system, people are now using these mushrooms to reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol but be aware that taking reishi along with medications that lower blood pressure may cause blood pressure to dip too low. Additionally, in ancient Chinese and Japanese rituals, reishi has been used as a natural remedy to help relax before sleep. So, if you’ve been suffering from fatigue, make a warm tea to sip before bedtime.
Steam for the common cold
You might have tried to relieve that annoying cough with specially-marketed cough syrup or lost sleep from endlessly plumping up your pillows. But the key to cough relief is quite simple; steam. Austrian researchers discovered that people who take saunas regularly contract fewer colds. Even just inhaling steamy air in the shower is beneficial. Or fill a bowl with hot water, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil, and drape a towel over your head as you lower it over the bowl. Then, keeping your eyes closed, breathe in the soothing vapours.
NOTE: ‘Natural’ doesn’t necessarily mean safe. Just like conventional medicines, herbal medicines will have an effect on the body, and must be used correctly. Speak to your healthcare provider before supplementing natural remedies with conventional medicines and use them with the same care and respect.