It wasn’t too long ago that when you needed to tend to your family’s bumps, bruises and illnesses, there wasn’t a corner drug store to pop down to for a remedy. Instead, you were forced to rely on your own common sense and knowledge, as well as a fully stocked herb pantry. For the most part, any remedies needed were crafted from herbs and plants grown in the garden.
There has been a resurgence of interest in natural home remedies, with more and more people wanting to know exactly what they are putting in their bodies. It is important to note that the information we have gathered here is for informational purposes ONLY, and is by no means made to be a replacement for anything prescribed by your doctor. We have made every effort to ensure that the information is unbiased and is as accurate as possible, but please use caution and common sense when implementing these remedies.
Bladder Infections: One of the most well known home remedies for bladder infections is cranberry juice. Most people drink copious amounts of cranberry juice at the first sign of a UTI, as the juice helps flush the urinary system by keeping bacteria from gaining a foothold in the lining of the urinary tract. Another good remedy for a UTI is horseradish root. It’s a diuretic, which is something that reduces excess water retention with depletion of minerals.
Bruises & Sprains: A common remedy for bruises and sprains is eucalyptus oil, used in a topical application. Blend it together with something like rosemary oil to increase blood flow to the muscles, which eases soreness. Eucalyptus can also be used as an antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes. Use this in conjunction with icing to reduce pain and swelling.
Burns: Minor burns can be treated at home by being run under cold water for at least 10 minutes immediately after being burned. As an addition to the cold water treatment, cut off part of an aloe leaf and apply the gel that can be squeezed out of the leaf. Witch hazel is also a good option, as it is an astringent, decreases inflammation and cools burned skin. Never use butters or oils on fresh burns, as they actually form barriers that trap the heat in the skin instead of helping it cool.
Common Cold: There is still no cure for the common cold, as you all well know, but there are remedies to ease the discomfort that comes along with it. Herbal teas containing lemon, eucalyptus, thyme and mint along with a generous amount of honey will help clear congestion and ease a sore throat. A “Hot Toddy” (lemon, cinnamon, clove and honey all warmed in 1.5 cups of water and mixed with a shot of whiskey) is another favorite to relieve congestion and body aches.
Cuts & Scrapes: Home first aid care is a must for a busy household. Once you have determined whether it’s serious enough for a doctor to be seen or not, you can use some of these time-honored remedies. Raw honey applied directly to the wound and wrapped in gauze is a favorite for it’s antibacterial properties. Calendula is a first aid must for slowing down bleeding, calming inflammation and promoting new skin growth. It is also a great antiseptic. Tea tree oil, chamomile and lavender are all great on rashes, burns and cuts with their antibacterial properties, and cinnamon and clove reduce pain and disinfect wounds. All of these are must-have additions to your first aid kit as essential oils that can be applied directly to skin or incorporated into a salve.
Digestion: Chamomile and mint teas are the first herbs of choice for any digestive woes. Chamomile reduces inflammation and relieves gas bloating, while mint is the best choice for relieving nausea and vomiting.
Headaches & Migraines: Herbal teas made with peppermint, vervain or lemon balm will help relieve headaches as well as nausea. Combining rosemary and juniper oils with a base and then applying to the neck and shoulders for a massage can help relieve tension headaches. Another tension headache reliever is the caffeine in coffee.
Bee Stings: This remedy only applies to those who are NOT allergic to bees. Those who are allergic should follow any instructions given by your doctor. Create a simple paste of baking soda and water and apply directly to the sting. When it has dried and starts to crumble and fall off, you may rinse it away. This will stop any pain or itching and reduce the swelling. Applying ice to the sting is another simple remedy to constrict blood flow, numb pain and prevent the venom from spreading and causing more pain. Always be sure to remove the stinger at the sting site if it is visible.
Sleeplessness: For light to moderate sleep issues, chamomile or any other non-caffeinated herbal tea is your best bet. Although there are is no scientific proof that chamomile has any properties that aide in sleep, it is a long passed down tradition to drink chamomile before bed to promote sleep. While there may not be any scientific properties to prove its validity, it has been said that those who have and follow a specific routine (including making and drinking a cup of chamomile tea) before going to bed sleep better than those who do not. Valerian is another herb that has been said to induce sleep, but it should not be used in conjunction with any doctor prescribed sleep aides. Be sure to check with your doctor before adding any supplements to the medication you already take, if any.
We’re now going to talk a little bit about a few ways that you can apply the herbs we’ve listed above. Again, these are not meant to be specific instructions, just information that can be utilized as an alternative. If you have concerns or questions, always be sure to consult a medical professional.
One simple way to consume herbs is to dry them, grind them into a powder and then fill capsules with the powder to take by mouth. You can get empty capsules at most healthy food stores. The FDA does not regulate dietary supplements the same way that it regulates medicine, so there are no general limits put on how much you should consume. Be sure to consult a medical professional as to how much of the powdered herb you can take as according to your body weight.
A poultice is used as a direct topical application, as opposed to ingestion. Most are used as anti-inflammatories and can speed the healing of cuts and scrapes by being directly applied to the wound. Crush or mash the herbs into a paste (you can use warm water and honey as a moistening agent if needed) before applying directly to the site of the injury and pressing or wrapping a bandage over top.
A tincture is something that can be consumed or applied topically. Soak fresh herbs in a sealable container in 80 proof alcohol for at least 3 weeks, shaking daily to keep the herbs covered. After the three weeks is up, strain the mixture free of the herbs and let it settle for a whole day before straining again. Dilute before consuming or applying. Calendula tincture is meant to be applied topically, as it has antibacterial properties. Most tincture mixtures will keep for a year or longer.
Infused oils are made of herbs that have active components that will dissolve in vegetable oil. The resulting oils can be applied topically for use. Combine oil and herbs in a container and allow it to sit for 2 weeks or until the oil has taken on the color and flavor of the herbs. If you place the container in the sun, it will speed up the process.
Teas are made by steeping herbs in boiling hot water for 15 minutes, straining if needed before hot or cold consumption. Steeping the herbs yourself instead of using store bought tea results in stronger flavor and effect.
Salves and balms are made by combining infused oils with beeswax and a small amount of glycerine to help the balm stay smooth. Melt all ingredients (2 tablespoons beeswax to 1 cup infused oil) in a double boiler over a very low flame (beeswax is flammable when overheated). Heat just enough for incorporation, then let cool. If it is too thick, add more oil, and if it is too runny, add more wax. Vitamin E can also be added to prevent the salve from spoiling if you don’t think you’ll use it fast enough.