Do you know that you have a medicine chest in your garden and kitchen cupboard? Grandma knew what to do and modern science shows that she knew best after all!
Here are the top 10 common family health problems that respond well to home remedies found in your kitchen or garden! (PS. Many common ailments can be treated effectively at home. When in doubt however, especially in the case of babies and small children, please consult your health practitioner). Certain herbs, foods and household items can provide an on-the-spot, portable first aid home remedy kit! You may not even realise it - but the next time your kids have a tummy bug, cold or bruise or you have heartburn or burn your fingers taking the roast out of the oven, check the garden or pantry! Here's our list of the most common family ailments and the home remedies you can use to help!
10 Common Family Ailments with Grandma's Top Home Remedy FIRST-AID TIPS!
1. Gastro, Diarrhea & Constipation:
Gastro and diarrhea, especially in children, can be very upsetting! There is nothing gentler OR more effective for gastro than rice water and bananas! Simply boil brown or white rice in lots of water until it is soft and mushy and then mash it up in the water so that it is a white, watery mixture. Allow to cool and then add to ripe mashed banana that has been standing for a few minutes. The rice water will help to 'bind' the stools (brown rice is also full of Vit B which will help to control diarrhea), while banana also relieves symptoms of diarrhea. This home remedy is gentle enough even for babies. Funnily enough, adults and children who suffer from chronic constipation will also benefit from eating one or two bananas a day - bananas are packed full of water soluble fibre which gives bulk to the stools and helps to pass them more easily.
2. Burns & Insect Bites:
Kids have very sensitive skin and insect bites (especially the kind that itch from mozzies) can really drive them mad! Try making a Chamomile mixture by steeping 5 tea bags in a pitcher of water and letting cool. This can be added to a bath for soothing effects. You can also use the bag as a compress directly on the bite. Of course every mom knows that butter should NEVER be placed on a burn! Good old quick cold water immediately is the best to stop the burn penetrating deeper into the skin. Baking soda is another great remedy for stings and bites - especially marvellous for treating bee-stings when used in a paste of water and baking soda. Apply to the site of the sting after cleaning the area (use white vinegar and water in a 50-50 ratio for a natural cleanser). For mild, prickly heat rash add 1 cup of baking soda to a cool bath and have your child soak in it for 10-20 minutes. Two great choices from the garden are Aloe and Bulbinella (the later is indigenous to South Africa). A Bulbinella leaf can be picked fresh, split in half and applied to the skin (moist gel). If you have Aloe in your garden, snap off a piece and apply the oozy clear cold gel onto the bite or sting, it is an effective anti-inflammatory, and you should experience some degree of immediate relief. Mother nature to the rescue!
3. Nausea & Vomiting:
Children are prone to tummy upsets and vomiting. If your child has a delicate digestive system that is sensitive to flavours or tends to have a sore tummy after too much nervous excitement, you may need to turn to your home pantry for the miracle answer: ginger. This is a great one because it is something that is usually readily available in the house. Think of ginger teas, ginger beer (hopefully with natural sugars or sugar free). Always check the ingredients as it MUST contain real ginger to be effective! Ginger is quite strong, so if you use ginger shavings steeped in lukewarm water, make sure to add a teeny bit of natural organic unprocessed honey to make the 'medicine go down.'
4. Coughs & Colds:
Onions are well known for strengthening the immune system, as well as being brilliant natural antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and expectorants. Try making a homemade onion and chicken broth soup to be taken internally by eating it of course! Kids also love smoothies, so even when they are feeling under the weather, most will jump at the chance to drink a smoothie cocktail of 'magic juice'. Try a Vitamin C citrus booster of naturally squeezed orange, lemon, ginger shavings and RAW unprocessed honey (obtainable from the Feelgood Health shop). As far as congestion and stuffy nose goes - although it may be tempting, do not reach for the Vicks vapour rub! It is made with petroleum - a byproduct of oil drilling, like gasoline. In fact, the European Union has banned many petroleum jelly products, certainly not something you want to spread on your child's chest and have him inhaling it! A much safer option is good old Eucalyptus oil on the chest or burning in a burner to clear airways (for fire safety: make sure that the burner is only burning when you are in the room and never leave it un-attended, near curtains or burning overnight!).
5. Indigestion & Heartburn:
Did you know that over-the-counter antacids can cause further digestive issues? This is because they contain ingredients that can cause a runny tummy, such as magnesium, or constipation, such as aluminium. Furthermore, with overuse of antacids one may even experience changes in the colour of bowel movements, and stomach cramps. The better bet is bicarbonate of soda. Simply mix half a teaspoon of bicarb and a few drops of lemon juice in half a cup of warm water. It's better to add lemon than drink the bicarb on it's own as the lemon juice will dispel some of the gas which bicarb creates in the stomach when it comes into contact with stomach acid. Interestingly, one may think of lemon as acidic, yet Limonene, a compound in lemons, helps short circuit the production of the acid in the stomach. Try squeezing the juice of one lemon into a glass of water and drink.
6. Emotional upset/shock:
Children often get overwhelmed very quickly - a dog jumping out of nowhere on the way home, a sudden fall while playing outside or a cartoon on TV that is a little too sinister. A great quick and easy remedy for this is Chamomile tea with natural honey (obtainable from the Feelgood Health shop) or sugar (if you don't have honey or at a friends house). Note this is NOT a remedy for anaphylactic shock (caused by severe allergy) or a medical emergency, but rather just a quick aid for minor upset and fright. If your child is old enough to sleep out for the night, pack a 'mommy emergency parcel' with some chamomile teabags and honey so that your host parent can whip up a diluted kid-friendly cup, especially if your child is used to it at home.
Remember the Beatrix Potter tale of the sleeping bunnies and lettuce? Turns out it's fact rather than fiction! That's because lettuce is a natural soporific and the milky sap in lettuce contains an opium-like substance called lactucin that can help induce sleep and relaxation safely and naturally. Chamomile tea is also wonderfully calming and handy for those nights when you (or the kids) cannot get any shut-eye. It's known to help provide a good 8 hours of sleep as it has natural sedative properties, which can relax nervous tension. Warm milk must be the most well-known sleep inducer, and it's no surprise: it contains Tryptophan, which is the same ingredient in turkey meat that makes everyone sleepy after Christmas dinner! Make sure you drink it warm - it will raise your body temperature a few degrees higher to trigger the slowdown response we have on warm days to relax.
Headaches tend to strike at the best of times, but there are some quick, easy home remedies: try a tea made with rosemary (a known brain booster and helpful herb to promote blood flow around the brain), with mint and lavender (for it's calming properties). You can also add ginger for that extra zing of effectiveness. Rosemary essential oils, diluted, can also help: To relieve headache pain, dab a drop or two of rosemary essential oil (diluted in water) on each temple and on your forehead. Rub gently into the skin, then sit quietly for several minutes. Just why does rosemary help? A 2010 study found that rosemary contains carvacrol, a substance that acts as a COX-II inhibitor, just like ibuprofen, but without the side effects!
When you're feeling run down or find that mid-afternoon slump at work, try a ginger and rosemary tea with raw honey (obtainable from the Feelgood Health shop) - it works like a charm to get your energy levels up to scratch again! This is because rosemary stimulates the mind and increases circulation, and can help to provide a quick, lasting lift of energy, while ginger brings natural alertness to the remedy. In winter, brew a flask and keep it at work, in summer let it cool and add ice cubes and a dash of lemon or citrus fruit for added zest!
Conventional worm medication can be a harsh assault on the digestive system, so if you're wary then try 'Wilde als' (also known as wormwood) prepared in a tea. Preliminary research suggests wormwood may have activity against a number of parasites: Ascaris lumbricoides, Plasmodium, Schistosoma mansoni, and Giardia. It's effectiveness is due to the fact that wormwood contains sesquiterpene lactones, which are thought to weaken parasite membranes. If you can stomach it, add Garlic (Allium sativa) which has been found to have activity against common roundworm parasites. You can also add cloves to the Wilde als tea. Wormwood can be found in liquid extract, or capsule form, however please note: the pure oil is considered toxic and should not be ingested.
Raw and organic honey mentioned in this article can be purchased at the Feelgood Health Shop, 021 797 0198.