Natural Treatments for Common Ailments
(CBS) Before you reach into your medicine cabinet to take care of a headache, stuffy nose, or upset stomach, you might want to consider treating your everyday ailments with natural remedies.
They take a little longer to work than their conventional counterparts, but may prove more effective, according to Body + Soul magazine Senior Editor Terri Trespicio.
She looked into Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet on “The Early Show Saturday Edition,” noting the surprising healing power of herbal remedies. They could be just what the doctor ordered.
Mild headaches: Tiger balm. Chinese ointment contains menthol and can ease pain when rubbed into neck or temples.
Arthritis pain: Turmeric, fish oil. All show promise in helping ease pain. Talk to your healthcare professional for dosage.
Elderberry syrup: Research suggests it can fight the flu and may ease symptoms of cold.
Garlic: What you eat matters! Get plenty of raw or lightly cooked garlic, which contains antiviral compounds. Add thyme to soups and salad dressing.
Eucalyptus oil in a pot of boiling water can help loosen phlegm. Just tent a towel over your head and breathe deeply.
Licorice root and marshmallow root can also help calm a cough – look for teas containing these herbs and sip throughout the day. For example, a tea called Organic Throat Coat combines several herbs.
High fiber foods: Eat plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains and beans. Sprinkle some ground flaxseed on cereal or in smoothies. Also, drink plenty of room-temperature water.
Triphala: Herbal supplement from the Ayurvedic tradition that can get things moving. Take supplement as noted on bottle.
Quercetin: This flavonoid compound, found in apples and onions, can also help fight allergy symptoms. It’s preventive, though, so allow 6-8 weeks to build it up in your system. Typical dose: 400 mg twice a day between meals.
Stinging nettle: In tincture, teas or freeze-dried capsules. Consume half teaspoon of tincture three times a day, a month before allergy season. Drink 2-3 cups of nettle tea, or follow directions on capsule bottle.
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Here’s the lowdown on how to treat five common ailments with natural approaches.
For mild headaches, consider Tiger Balm, says Andrew Weil, M.D., author of the upcoming “Why Our Health Matters.” This Chinese ointment contains menthol, which creates a warm, tingling feeling that eases pain when rubbed into your neck or temples.
Massaging a few drops of lavender essential oil onto your temples may also help for headaches triggered by stress, says herbalist Deb Soule, author of “A Woman’s Book of Herbs.” Indeed, past research has shown that lavender can promote relaxation. Or try plant remedies with a long history of traditional use and supporting scientific evidence: “Willow bark and meadowsweet both have anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve headaches,” Soule explains.
Take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of tincture as needed at the first sign of symptoms. For arthritis pain, turn to turmeric, boswellia, or fish oil, which all show promise in recent research; talk to a health-care practitioner about the best form and dosage.
Take a dropperful of echinacea tincture in water four times a day at the first sign of symptoms, until they subside. Some studies have shown it can shorten colds, though results are mixed. Soule has found that elderberry syrup, which research suggests can fight flu, may also ease symptoms of a common cold. Take according to directions until a few days after symptoms have disappeared.
Diet matters, too; eat plenty of raw or lightly cooked garlic, which contains antiviral compounds, and add thyme to soups or salad dressings. You also might try a neti pot, an Aladdin’s lamp-shaped vessel that you fill with warm salt water and use to irrigate congested nasal passages.
When you find yourself hacking, try natural remedies first, says Weil. Loosen phlegm and make coughs more productive by adding crushed eucalyptus or sage leaves to a pot of boiling water, carefully tenting a towel over your head, and breathing in deeply. Certain herbs may also help calm a cough; Soule’s favorites include mullein leaf, licorice root, and marshmallow root. Look for teas containing one or more of these herbs, and sip a few cups throughout the day.
Stay regular with dietary adjustments: Eat plenty of high-fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and beans, and sprinkle freshly ground flaxseed on cereal or in smoothies. Also, be sure to drink plenty of room-temperature water.
If you need a supplement, try triphala. This Ayurvedic remedy “helps move the bowels and can be taken every day,” says Soule. Drink a 1/2 teaspoon of powder in a 1/4 cup of hot water. Psyllium, a fiber supplement derived from the husks of plant seeds, is another good choice, says Weil. Start with a rounded tablespoon of the powder stirred into a glass of water. Drink that and follow with another full glass of water.
The steam inhalation described in Cough Control can also break up nasal congestion, says Weil, though it’s not a core remedy for allergies. For seasonal allergies such as hay fever, he recommends the herb butterbur, shown to ease allergies without causing drowsiness. Look for brands guaranteed free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, naturally occurring compounds that have been linked to liver damage. The herb, also indicated for migraine relief, is generally taken at meals in 50 to 100 mg dosages twice a day.
Quercetin, a flavonoid compound found in apples and onions, may also help fight allergy symptoms. Since quercetin is preventive, allow six to eight weeks for it to build up in your system. A typical dose is 400 mg twice a day between meals. Soule has also found tinctures, teas, or freeze-dried capsules of stinging nettles helpful. Take 1/2 teaspoon of tincture three times a day, starting a month before allergy season; two to three cups of nettle tea; or follow directions on the bottle for capsules.