The Healing Power of Home Remedies

The Healing Power of Home Remedies
From Chatelaine
Every culture has its own special folk medicines
IN TRINIDAD people soothe itchy skin with an oatmeal paste. Ukrainian families use
chamomile for insomnia. Jamaicans use pain-relief medications that grow wild in their
gardens. Here's an eclectic mix of home remedies that doctors from around the world say
may reduce symptoms and give comfort for what ails you.
Aches and Pains
Dr. Bud Rickhi, a Trinida-dian-born associate professor of medicine at the University
of Calgary and director of the Research Centre for Alternative Medicine, says devil's claw,
a herb with claw-shaped leaves that grows in the Amazon, fends off joint pain. "Village
healers know how powerful it is," he says. And so do those suffering from rheumatism and
arthritis, according to medical herbalist Christopher Robbins, author of The Household
Herbal: A Complete Practical Guide to Plants That Heal.
Recent British and German studies show the herb reduces pain and inflammation in
the joints. But don't take it if you're pregnant: It may stimulate the uterine muscles during
pregnancy. You can buy devil's-claw teas or ointments at most health-food stores.
In southern India a spicy, watery soup is thought to help relieve cold symptoms. Dr.
Elizabeth Thakkar, a family physician from Calgary, adds to 5 mL (1 tsp.) of light olive oil, a
pinch of mustard seeds, a few curry leaves and lightly sautés with three cloves of minced
garlic. Then she adds 5 mL of ground cumin and 5 mL of ground black pepper, three fresh
tomatoes, blanched and peeled, 500 mL (2 cups) water and a pinch of salt. She brings the
mixture to a boil and simmers for five minutes.
Although the tomatoes contain lycopene, a natural antioxidant that protects cells from
damage, it's the spice, according to Earl Mindell, that provides the most relief. A Canadian
professor of nutrition at Pacific Western University in Los Angeles and author of Earl
Mindell's Food as Medicine, he explains that black pepper is thermogenic -- creating heat
in the body, which speeds up the metabolism and jump-starts the immune system.
For coughs that accompany colds, says a Ukrainian tradition, stock up on garlic.
Because Ukrainian society is agrarian, people use their gardens to help keep them
healthy. Ukrainians add garlic to many dishes. Modern research confirms its ability to fight
viral infections and strep throat.
Garlic acts like a mild antifungal and antibiotic through the release of aromatic
chemicals, including allicin, in the body. Raw garlic is the most effective, but it can cause
gastrointestinal upset. If so, try garlic supplements, available at most pharmacies and
health-food stores.
Related Links
Chinese rhubarb is the main ingredient in an Asian The following links are for
prescription for constipation. Purée three Chinese
informational and educational
rhubarb stalks (not to be confused with garden
use only. Reader's Digest does
rhubarb), add 250 mL (1 cup) apple juice, 1 L (4 cups)
not endorse or guarantee any
of water, 1/4 peeled lemon and 15 mL (1 tbsp.) honey.
infomation contained therein. For
Bring it to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. According
diagnoses and treatment of any
to Dr. Joseph Yuk-Shing Wong, a Toronto physician
illness, always consult a health-
specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation, the
care professional.
ingredients are natural laxatives that also boost the
digestive system.
In Zimbabwe golden honey goes into the medicine
chest. "My family was fortunate to have beehives in our
backyard. If any of us had a cut that wouldn't heal, the
best remedy was fresh honey," says Zimbabwe-born
Garden Guides
Herb Guide: Herbal Home
Remedies, Herbs and
Pregnancy, Preparing
Medicinal Herbs
Herbal Remedies
Home page of A Modern
Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve,
originally published 1931
Dr. Mohamed Ravalia, a family physician in Twillingate,
Nfld. Because honey absorbs the water on skin that bacteria need to grow, it has
antibacterial properties. Ravalia's advice is to apply honey directly to a minor cut and cover
it with gauze. However, only raw, unprocessed honey contains the vitamins, minerals and
enzymes that can help wounds to heal.
Rickhi says Trinidadians grow ginger instead of buying antacids. Fresh or dried ginger
can be added to food or made into a tea. Add 5 mL (1 tsp.) ginger to your favourite tea
blend. Also recommended for nausea and ulcer pain, ginger reduces stomach irritation
and helps produce digestive juices.
Instead of after-dinner mints, many East Indian restaurants serve dainty bowls of
fennel seeds. Thakkar says fennel helps your body digest a spicy meal. To decrease
flatulence and ease indigestion, drink fennel tea, available at most health-food stores. The
Calgary physician says nursing mothers in India often drink the tea to help soothe their
colicky babies. Mindell explains that fennel has the added benefit of stimulating milk
production in lactating women.
"In Trinidad we would give little sachets of lavender to new parents, who put them in
cribs to help babies sleep," says Rickhi. Lavender is a relaxing herb that affects your
nervous system and may decrease your breathing and heart rate during a period of
anxiety. For best results, Rickhi advises putting a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow
before going to bed.
The Ukrainian remedy for sleeplessness is nothing more complicated than a cup of
chamomile tea. A mild sedative, chamomile reduces anxiety and tension, especially before
you go to bed.
Sore throat
Dr. Marlyn Cook, a Grand Rapids First Nation family physician in Winnipeg, says that
to soothe a sore throat, drink a sage infusion: Put 10 mL (2 tsp.) of fresh or home-dried
sage into 625 mL (2-1/2 cups) of boiling water, simmer for 20 minutes, then strain off the
leaves. Drink or gargle with 250 mL (1 cup) of the sage tea for soothing relief.
Robbins says sage is a natural astringent and antiseptic, which is recommended for
gingivitis and throat infections. However, Robbins cautions women not to take it during
pregnancy As with any herbal, he notes, this plant should be treated with the same respect
as any other medication. Consult your physician for more information.