the Medicine Cabinet in Your Kitchen

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And I’m not talking about cold and headache pills kept in the cabinet above the toaster–I’m not the only one who grew up that way, right?

No, today I want to share with you some simple home remedies that you can find in your kitchen. Of course, the standard caveats apply:

  • If you’re allergic to something, don’t use it. Corollary: If you experience any allergy-like symptoms, discontinue use, pop a Benadryl for mild symptoms and call the doctor asap for anything breathing-related or otherwise severe!
  • If you’re on prescription medications, check with your prescribing doctor or pharmacist before adding a natural remedy to the mix (natural remedies can often interact with or invalidate prescription meds).
  • If symptoms persist see a doctor.
  • I am not a doctor, just a girl who (due to a laundry-list of personal health idiosyncrasies) wants to decrease the amount of non-essential pharmaceuticals in her system.

Have I covered my ass enough, now?

Good for More Than Just Studding a Ham

I’d often read that clove was a natural topical analgesic (pain reliever) but it never really clicked until one Sunday dinner with a friend’s family. Mrs. P had made a gorgeous glazed ham and you know the the crust is the best part. Well, after one piece my tongue started to go numb. Viola! A little too much clove on a ham yields numbing sensations. This is why clove oil (available in some pharmacies) or even the ground cloves in your spice cabinet can be applied to your gums to help alleviate your next toothache. Just make a little paste with cloves and water and place it around the achy area.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have a faint pie-spice taste in my mouth than that nasty orajel flavor I grew up with!

When the Motion of the Ocean is too Much to Bear

Thankfully, I don’t suffer from motion sickness on a regular basis, nor do I get sea sick. Growing up in Louisiana, both families had river camps and I always thought it was great fun to go out on a boat.The first two cruise ships I was on? No problems. But by my third cruise I’d developed more persistent tummy troubles in general and our ship was experiencing some propulsion issues that created a little more rocking. I came prepared with my trust ginger pills and, after the first day, all was right with the world.

We’ve probably all been given ginger ale when we were kids with an upset stomach, right? There’s a reason for that. Ginger has a wonderfully calming effect on roiling tummies and can help with digestion in general. For the cruise I bought ginger pills at the local health food store (powdered ginger in capsules) but I’ve also had good results eating bit of Australian chewy ginger licorice and even candied ginger slices. You do want to watch out on the sugary options, though: too much sugar can make a bad situation worse (it draws extra water into your gi tract to deal with the sugar and can throw things out of balance).

The Go With the Flow Trio

In my 20s I suffered through numerous bladder infections for which we were never quite sure of the cause(s). On top of that, I was also getting bronchitis a couple times a year, and the antibiotic load frequently took it’s toll on the good bacteria in my body causing yeast infections. It was a vicious cycle. And really uncomfortable.

Since then I’ve discovered my own little cocktail of all-natural products to help keep the girlie bits happy and healthy. It’s not exactly a secret, chances are you’ve heard of this before, but I’m going to tell you anyway because I’ve learned to no longer assume folks know what I consider to be common information: cranberry juice, yogurt and baking soda mixed with water are your new best friends.

Not all together, of course!

The cranberry juice needs to be as close to natural as possible. If you don’t like the taste you can use the blends but it’s best if you use the brands available in the organic or natural section of the grocery as they won’t have as many sugars (sugars are bad news for these kinds of issues–they feed the bad bacteria!) or artificial ingredients. Drinking cranberry juice regularly keeps your urinary tract happy.

Oh, and about those blends? My girlfriend’s doctor told her any blend was find EXCEPT Cran-Grape–one half makes you go, the other makes you stop and you’re body won’t know what to do. Just something to keep in mind!

Yogurt is teeming with those active cultures that make yogurt, yogurt and they do wonderful things like build up the good bacteria in our bodies that antibiotics can strip away. Again, the idea is to go as natural as possible and avoid overly sugary versions or ones with excess chemical enhancement. My favorite, these days, is naturally fat-free Greek yogurt with fruit and honey.

Back when I’d get those infections often the doctor would give me a pain killer along with the antibiotic. I wasn’t really fond of the technicolor side-effects these things brought on and hated yet another pill to swallow for the duration. Instead, I read that mixing baking soda in water will act as a natural pain reliever to get you over the hump if you feel a little uncomfortable in the nether regions. Thankfully I’ve only had to use this once in the last 6 years but it does work!

But Wait–There’s More!

Nagging cough? Dissolve 1 tablespoon of honey into 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and drink to quiet that tickle. Yes, it’s strong-tasting, but it’s still better than the artificial stuff on the drugstore shelf!

Nutmeg is a natural anti-inflammatory and can be taken in pill form just like the ginger–look in your local health foods store for this one.

An infusion of basil in hot water (you can even used dried basil for this! 1/4 cup water per 2 teaspoons basil and steeped for 10 minutes) helps reduce gas and bloating. 1 cup, twice a day for no more than 8 days in a row followed by a 2 week break. Just don’t lay on the basil if you’re pregnant.

What’s stocked in your kitchen medicine cabinet?