Written by Charlotte Haigh MacNeil
Meet our experts: Nici Hofer and Karin Berndl co-authored the natural remedy bible Vinegar Socks (Hardie Grant, £12.99); Janey Lee Grace is an expert on natural remedies and beauty treatments – www.imperfectlynatural.com
You don’t always need to head to the doctor or the chemist for solutions to common health problems. Nature has provided lots of simple but powerful ingredients, many of which you’ve probably got already in your kitchen cupboards. You may even remember your mum or grandmother using some of them. We’ve rounded up some quick, natural remedies you can whip up in your kitchen.
The sore-throat tonic
“Sage is excellent for treating any inflammation in your mouth and also has virus-zapping, immune-boosting properties,” says Nici Hofer natural health expert and author of Vinegar Sock. Simply pour 250ml boiling water, into a mug with 2 sage leaves in it. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes then strain and drink. You can also gargle with this mixture if you have sore gums or mouth ulcers – just leave it to cool a little.
The foot deodorant
Struggle with sweaty feet? Bathing them in cooled black tea can help because tea’s tannins kills the bacteria that cause odour. This foot bath can also be really refreshing after being on your feet all day. Just brew up a pot of strong black tea, allow it to cool down, then pour it into a bowl big enough to rest your feet in for 10 minutes.
The cold zapper
Got those telltale sniffles? Janey Lee Grace swears by this simple remedy to nip it in the bud. “Take 1 tsp of crushed garlic with manuka honey, both known to boost immunity and help fight off colds. You could also try some hot water with the juice of ½ lemon and a big chunk of grated ginger.”
Turmeric’s a bit of a wonder-ingredient - as well as easing joint pain, its anti-inflammatory properties may have a role to play in the prevention of Alzheimer’s
The cough blitzer
“There’s no need to spend money on cough medicines,” says Natural Health Expert Janey Lee Grace. “Try this traditional treatment instead. Coat an onion in brown sugar and leave overnight. Then take a spoonful of the ‘syrup’ it creates. It can really help ease a cough and you can’t taste the onion!”
The joint-pain easer
Research has shown curcumin, a property found in the spice turmeric, has anti-inflammatory actions that can ease joint pain in arthritis. Try this delicious smoothie: blend a glass of milk with a banana, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp turmeric and a little honey to taste. Whizz together and drink immediately.
The weight-loss booster
Some research has suggested cinnamon can help lower blood sugar and keep you feeling fuller for longer. In people with type 2 diabetes, it may even help lower heart disease risk. 1 tsp is the amount that seems to make a difference, so stir it into porridge or yogurt at breakfast-time to help curb your appetite and stop you reaching for the biscuit tin mid-morning.
The sleep-better soother
Family worries, hormonal ups and downs and juggling different commitments, can leave you tense and tired at the end of the day. This soothing bath essence may help. “Lavender can be very relaxing and soothing,” says Nici.
“And adding it to a bath is the best way to get the benefits because warm water helps your skin absorb the essential oils and you inhale some in the steam too.” Make your own lavender bath by pouring boiling water over a cupful of lavender flowers and leaving to infuse for ten minutes. Strain and add to a warm bath, then spend 15 minutes soaking in the tub.
The headache buster
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and is a traditional headache remedy. It may be particularly helpful for migraines because it can help ease nausea. Grate 1 tsp of fresh ginger, pour boiling water over it and add 1 tsp honey if you wish. Leave it to infuse for 10 minutes, then drink. If you don’t have fresh ginger, use 1 tsp ground ginger instead.
Ginger has such powerful anti-nausea properties it may be helpful for travel sickness - try sucking ginger sweets to help prevent it
The helpful constipation cure
This natural laxative combines anti-inflammatory Quark cheese, with high-fibre linseeds (also known as flaxseeds), apple and honey. “This is an easy remedy that can really help relieve constipation,” says natural remedies writer Karin Berndl. “Soak 1 tsp linseeds overnight. The next day, put 125g Quark in a bowl with 1 grated apple, the linseeds and 1 tsp honey. Add a little water, let the mixture rest for 10 minutes then eat.”
The instant eye brightener
Hormone changes around the menopause can lead to your eyes becoming dryer, so you may notice they feel gritty and sometimes look red. Try this traditional remedy for soothing them.
Make a mug of chamomile tea with boiling water, stirring in ½ tsp of salt. After 10 minutes, remove the teabag, leave the solution to cool and then put it in the fridge for at least an hour, covered with tin foil. Soak
2 cotton wool pads in the cold tea and relax with them over your eyes for ten minutes.
The soothing agents in chamomile tea, plus the coldness, will help fight inflammation around your eyes and shrink the capillaries, leaving them feeling fresher and looking brighter. (Always make this mixture fresh to avoid bacteria forming).
- There's more health advice in every issue of Yours, out every fortnight on a Tuesday