The next time you’re suffering from a cold, mouth ulcer, leg cramps or even a sore throat – have a rummage around the pantry. There may be no need to visit the chemist because it’s quite likely that your kitchen is already filled with a variety of ingredients that can cure a raft of common complaints.
1. Sore throat
A cup of thyme tea can both ease and treat a sore throat. One of the chemical compounds found in thyme is a powerful antiseptic called thymol. It is widely used in mouthwash, hand sanitiser and acne medication. Steep one teaspoon of dried thyme in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Strain and add lemon or sugar to taste. Drink two cups daily until the pain has eased.
2. Colds and flu
Cooking and eating a hot curry will help clear out mucous and phlegm from the sinuses and nasal passages. Hot spices like chili and cayenne pepper contain a chemical called capsaicin. This irritant produces a burning sensation in any tissue that it comes into contact with, which triggers a response in goblet cells whose function it is to secrete mucus.
Cloves can be used to calm bloating and flatulence. They contain a component called eugenol that helps to relieve discomfort. It reduces gas pressure in the stomach, helping to digest food and eliminate toxins. Eating a dessert of stewed fruit with a pinch of cloves after dinner will ease digestion.
4. Mouth ulcers
Chamomile tea can soothe the pain of mouth ulcers because it is thought this herb contains inflammation-relieving qualities. Allow the tea to infuse and cool down before swilling around the mouth and swallowing. Do this every couple of hours until the pain subsides.
5. Leg cramps
Drinking a glass of tonic water before bed can prevent leg cramps. Quinine, the naturally occurring ingredient in tonic water, can prevent muscles going into spasm.
6. Wasp sting
Rubbing a slice of onion onto a wasp sting can reduce the swelling and pain and speed up the healing process. The enzymes found in a freshly cut onion help break down the compounds in a sting that cause inflammation.
Both honey and cider vinegar are natural anti-inflammatories. To help ease joint pain, mix one tablespoon of honey with a tablespoon of cider vinegar and take with breakfast.
Ginger is also good at treating arthritis as it contains chemicals that work similarly to many anti–inflammatory medications. Grate fresh ginger in stir-fries, or steep in hot water with fresh lemon to make a refreshing morning drink.
8. Urine infection
Drinking a glass of cranberry juice can help to treat a urinary infection. Cranberries contain chemicals that stop the activity of E. coli, the bacteria most often responsible for cystitis.
*If symptoms persist always contact your doctor.
There's more health advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.