An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but what happens when you come down with something and need some relief?
Fruits, vegetables and herbs have been used for centuries to cure common maladies. Today, many people rely on modern day medicine, but not everybody. The reason is because, according to many, natural remedies work. ‘Natural’ is typically better than ‘chemical’ for some, and nature has provided us with plenty of tools to take on our ailments, from acne to gout, from nausea to snoring. Maybe you know some natural remedies already. But some in this list you are sure to find surprising.
Antioxidants protect our cells and DNA, and they are in vegetables and tea, as well as a whole host of other things. Anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation and can be found in herbs, roots, and fruits. And vitamins, taken in their natural form, are more effective in our bodies than in a manufactured format. Here are 15 natural remedies that are not only effective, they’re tasty. Well, 15 are tasty. (One smells nice.)
Chocolate, the darker the healthier, contains a class of antioxidants called flavonoids. These plant-based compounds provide health benefits to the body’s cells. In one study, scientists at Harvard Medical School found that older people who drank two cups of hot chocolate a day experienced better blood flow in working areas of the brain than those who did not. The cocoa prevented memory decline. (Of course, chocolate is high in sugar as well, so weigh all factors before force-feeding your grandmother a Hershey’s Bar.) Also impressive is chocolate’s ability to quell a cough. In fact, researchers over the years have found that chocolate is an effective cough suppressant. One research team stated that it might be more effective than codeine! It may be due to an alkaloid in cocoa. Or it could be chocolate’s ability to coat the mucus membranes. Whatever the reasons, bring on the chocolate!
Research shows that women who drink black tea regularly have a much lower risk of ovarian cancer than women who do not. And the polyphenols this tea contains are antioxidants that can protect the body’s cells. Early evidence hints that drinking black tea regularly and for a long time might prevent arthritis and lung cancer. However, on the day-to-day scale, black tea has proven to be a fair substitute for coffee because of its caffeine content. It also contains theophylline, a stimulant that’s good for improving that “alert” feeling. Another benefit black tea offers besides opening your eyes in the morning is even higher than the eyes. When washed into hair, it stimulates hair growth and improves strength and elasticity of each strand of hair. This prevents brittleness and breaking. It also adds a dark hue and natural shine! Not bad for tea.[/nextpage] [nextpage]
If you are suffering from high blood pressure, a bowl of basil and celery soup might be just what you need. Besides its low calorie count and ability to reduce inflammation, celery is a vegetable whose minerals soothe the nervous system. This calming effect is a first step in lowering blood pressure. And basil, a fragrant herb known for its anti-inflammatory properties, has vitamin K. One study showed that low vitamin K in the body may lead to hardened arteries. . .and higher blood pressure. Sit down to a bowl of this tasty soup and relax. The celery gives the soup a salty taste with its organic sodium, which is not the same as unhealthy table salt, something you’ll want to reduce if you’re battling high blood pressure. Bon appetit.
A study with children showed that two teaspoons of honey before bedtime helped suppress their cough. Not only that, the honey helped the kids sleep better because their coughs were not as persistent or as strong. The children in the study received citrus honey, labiatae honey or eucalyptus honey 30 minutes before going to sleep. Another study showed that bee honey has an added benefit: antibacterial properties from an enzyme from the bees. If the cough is bacterial in nature, this enzyme can shorten its duration. One important note: Never give honey to a child under one year of age. Babies could be at risk for infant botulism. For kids over one, two teaspoons of honey has shown to be as effective as an over the counter cough suppressant.
Beat tiredness. Beat mood swings. Beat dandruff! Beats are called a superfood because of the vast amount of nutrients and minerals they provide. Eat beets and give your body vitamins A, C, B6 (potassium) as well as magnesium, folic acid, soluble fiber and anti-oxidants. Beets can give you an energy boost when you are feeling tired. The folate and betaine they contain can help improve your mood and also curb depression. And most important to dry scalp club members everywhere, beets can treat dandruff! Used as a topical after boiling in water, this “shampoo” has been used for years in the fight against the white flakes. Ironically, white beets work best. You can also try mixing beet juice with vinegar and massaging it onto the scalp.
A handful of cherries can load your body with melatonin. This is the hormone that’s created by your body while you sleep to regulate your sleep patterns. Eating cherries before bed can give you a head start on a good night’s sleep! But there’s a more beneficial use of cherries – fighting gout. Gout is a painful arthritic condition caused by defective metabolism of uric acid. If that’s not too technical for you, here is how cherries can help: Dr. Jonathan Kay says that cherry extract “blocks the tubular reabsorption of urate and increases urate excretion in the urine. Cherry juice may also block xanthine oxidase and reduce the production of uric acid.” If you don’t know what that means, just know that eating cherries before a gout attack could reduce the likelihood of an acute attack by one-third.[/nextpage] [nextpage]
There is a lot of science to support the use of ginger to offset nausea. Ginger is the underground stem, called rhizome, of the ginger plant, and when in the mouth it causes saliva to secrete. This, in turn, releases various digestive enzymes that can neutralize stomach acids. The phenols in ginger help to relax the muscles in the stomach. And the chemicals in ginger influence the stomach and intestines to reduce the feeling of nausea, even if caused by motion. Ginger not only battles seasickness, it defeats the effects of arthritis. In an impressive study, ginger proved to decrease the pain associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It also allowed the study’s participants greater mobility. The reason? Ginger’s anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, antioxidant and analgesic properties. Maybe it’s time to start seasoning your dishes with ginger.
The only thing worse than breath that smells like the inside of an old cowboy boot is when the breath is yours! Lemons to the rescue. This citrus fruit is PACKED with vitamin C, and C is good for the skin and preventing colds. Lemons also have a high acidic value. The acid and citrus properties are the breathsavers, preventing bacteria from growing on your tongue and gums. Mixing a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice with water and salt, and gargling regulary, should keep the cowboy boot out of your mouth. Combine this with unsweetened yogurt and you should be golden for 12-24 hours. The yogurt’s probiotics compete with and replace the stinky bacteria.[/nextpage] [nextpage]
Talk about a do-it-all. This aromatic evergreen shrub of the mint family can battle acne, relieve pain, relieve nervous tension, relieve insomnia, relieve restlessness, relieve toothaches, and relieve migraine headaches. Its secret? It seems to have a sedating effect that relaxes certain muscles and reduces pain. That’s not all it does. In 2011, a study reported that oil from this purple plant was effective in treating fungus. The researchers found that the oil was lethal to a wide range of fungal strains. As aromatherapy, lavendar is known for its calming effect. Oh, it also repels mosquitoes. Just rub it on your skin before venturing outside. Many types of insects are not as into the fragarance as we humans are. If you apply it after you get bitten, the oil has anti-inflammatory properties as well, and it can reduce the irritation of the bite. (It’s not tasty, but it sure does smell nice.)
Papaya is a tropical fruit that is loaded with vitamins. It’s got Vitamin A which is good for our eyes, immune system and cell growth. It’s got vitamin C which boosts our immunity, protects our DNA from free radicals and helps to heal wounds. It’s got vitamin K which helps our blood to clot when there’s a wound. And it’s got vitamin E which helps our immune system and is good for our eyes and skin. Let’s focus on the skin. You can use papaya’s powers in several ways to help your skin. When consumed, its high water content helps keep the skin soft and smooth. When blended into a paste, you can use it as a hydrating face mask. You can even use the juice on a cotton ball to fight acne, pimples and blemishes. Eating ripe, raw papaya regularly can also clear your skin of blemishes.[/nextpage] [nextpage]
Cloves are a spice indigenous to Asian countries. They offer an earthy, spicy, sweet aroma, and not only do cloves add fragrance and taste to dishes, they aid in digestion, boost the immune system and protect the liver. Olive oil, on the other hand, has been around thousands of years. A key ingredient in the Medeterranean Diet, olive oil has been associated with decreased risk of heart disease. This is probably due to one of its polyphenols that helps the circulatory system at the cellular level. Put heart-healthy olive oil together with aromatic oil of cloves and what do you get? Toothache relief! The combination of these two oils on a cottonball quickly removes the pain in your tooth. Of course, it won’t fix whatever caused the pain. For that, you’ll need a dentist.
They’re annoying. They’re embarrassing. And they’re unplanned. Hiccups hit on their schedule, not yours, and you either have to persevere . . . or fight back. Hiccups are nothing more than the diaphragm going through involuntary spasms while at the same time the epiglottis is closed. The resulting sound of the spasms is hiccups. There are some silly-looking remedies for this condition, like drinking a cup of water while standing on your head, but the sweetest solution might be the most effective. Swallowing one to two teaspoons of sugar could be just what your diaphragm ordered. The influx of sugar can overwhelm the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that sends messages about the body’s organs to the brain. The sugar could cause the nerve to forget about the hiccups. It’s fast. It’s effective. It’s sweet![/nextpage] [nextpage]
Olive oil can make salads, pastas and pizza healthier. . .and tastier. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. That’s the healthy fat. But this oil has medicinal benefits as well. It has been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s Disease, fight breast cancer tumors and lower bad cholesterol. It can soothe burns and cure earaches. It can even help chapped lips. But the biggest surprise is that taking a swig or two of olive oil before bedtime can actually help you stop snoring. The oil’s anti-inflammatory properties influence the tissues along the respiratory passages while the oil itself coats the throat muscles. Of course, this remedy depends on the cause of the snoring. If snoring is due to apnea or congestion, olive oil is not the answer. If it’s the result of extra tissue at the back of the nose or throat, bottoms up!
Consume cinnamon; lose lbs. How does it work? Blood sugar has a direct impact on your weight. Balancing your blood sugar levels leads to more balanced appetites and less binge eating. Controlling your food intake can allow your body to burn the fat you eat instead of having to store the excess. Simply switching from soda to cinnamon tea can have a positive effect. Cinnamon is naturally low in calories, and drinking it in a tea format fills the belly. You’ll consume fewer calories (98 fewer than colas, per 8oz) and feel more satisfied which means you’ll also be less-likely to scavenge for more food. Cinnamon is also sugar-free whereas an 8oz can of cola delivers a whopping 20 grams, or four teaspoons, of sugar. Tea, zero. Two colas a day versus two cups of tea. . .well, you do the math.[/nextpage] [nextpage]
A summer favorite, watermelon is a fruit that is high in vitamin C which boosts immunity and heals wounds. Watermelon is also high in lycopene, an antioxidant believed to play a role in preventing cancer and heart disease. Watermelon, unsurprisingly, is also high in water content. In the hot summer months, drinking extra water is important. Although the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has removed the “8 cups of water a day” goal, eating watermelon ups the amount of water you consume. In fact, each bite of watermelon contains about 92% water. This is good news in general, but even moreso if you’re constipated (and you like watermelon). People who suffer constipation need to drink more water, and the high percentage of H2O in this delicious fruit counts for the water you consume and can be a sweet way to, um, move things along.
Bananas are amazing and offer so many surprise benefits. Are you ready for this abbreviated list? Bananas can help overcome depression, help the muscles and protect against cramps during workouts, reduce PMS symptoms, aid in weight loss, relieve anemia, lower blood pressure, protect against heart attacks and defend against strokes. The peels can reduce headaches and whiten teeth when rubbed on the target area. But if it’s your other end that’s giving you trouble, bananas can help your bottom too. The pectin they contain is a water-soluble fiber that helps reduce diarrhea. Eating a few ripe bananas a day should make the end come faster.[Featured image credit: www.healthygyan.com] [/nextpage]