Over the years as I’ve become more conscious of what I put in, and on, my body I’ve developed a medicine kit based upon traditional and natural remedies. I prefer to treat ailments with products that aren’t packed with chemicals, and may put extra strain on the body to process them. Nature has provided us with many foods, herbs, plants and flowers that are very effective at treating illness, or helping manage the symptoms of, and ironically most modern medicine is actually derived from the original source before it is changed beyond recognition.
Too many of us will immediately reach for painkillers at the first sign of a headache, but pain is the bodies way of telling us something is wrong, so why treat the symptoms and ignore the cause? Before I treat any symptoms I’ll always think about what it is that’s causing them. For instance a headache could be dehydration, a symptom of low blood sugar, tension or stress related for example. Aches and pains which many believe are just a way of life and something that only painkillers will relieve could be your body’s way of signalling you may be lacking in certain minerals or essential fats in your diet. Even getting numerous colds every winter shouldn’t be accepted as ‘normal’; providing your body with optimum nutrition in order to support a strong immune system, and taking steps to reduce immune suppressing factors such as stress in your life, can mean you don’t have to suffer and automatically be reaching for the Night Nurse.
However, not everything can be avoided and sometimes our bodies will suffer, whether it be through illness or injury, and will need a helping hand.
Putting together a natural medicine kit isn’t as hard as it sounds. Listed below is an example of the sorts of things I include in my alternative medicine cabinet, and is a good starting point but is not exhaustive, and I’m always adding bits in as and when I discover them. Keep a notebook in your kit with the natural medicines, so you and anyone else knows what they are and how to use them.
*This is by no means meant to replace medical advice, in contrast I suggest it is meant to be used alongside to help support the body’s natural healing process. Always seek professional assistance is symptoms are severe.*
An anti inflammatory and astringent, used to cleanse the skin, can help stop bleeding of minor wounds and is good for swimmers ear when used in a tincture.
Lavender essential oil:
An antiseptic and anti inflammatory and the only essential oil that can be applied directly to the skin (a great spot treatment). Use on cotton wool with witch hazel to clean cuts and scrapes. Also good for anxiety and helping you to sleep, just put a few drops on your pillow or in a warm bath.
A homeopathic remedy which can be used in pill form or as a topical cream (I carry both) to help with bruising, swelling, muscle sprains etc. Use with caution if also taking aspirin or ibuprofen as it slows blood clotting.
In gel form (look for a product that is 95% pure aloe leaf gel, better yet grow the plants yourself and squeeze the gel fresh) good for soothing skin, sunburn. Aloe juice (store bought-do not eat the plant) is beneficial internally for IBS symptoms, stomach ulcers and balancing pH levels.
In powder form. For poisoning, overdose (not effective with alcohol), bloating and excess wind, as it binds with toxins and chemicals, including heavy metals in the body, safely removing them. Drink lots of water and follow manufacturers guidelines. Also a great teeth whitener!
Antibacterial, antiviral, soothing and wound healing. Apply topically as a cream.
For colds, flu, coughs and viral infections. Has a huge antioxidant capacity and has the ability to stop healthy cells becoming infected with a virus. Use at the first sign of symptoms in place of ‘cough syrup’.
Antispasmodic and a natural sedative. Good for digestive upsets and as an insomnia remedy. Use as a tea or in tablet form.
A ‘healing clay’ (aka Montmorillonite clay) rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, silica, sodium, copper, iron and potassium. Is a natural detoxifier, is internally alkalising and has anti bacterial properties. Works much the same way as activated charcoal. Good for skin infections and reactions (such as poison ivy). Can be used as a toothpaste.
Sounds scary but is great at stopping bleeding! Pack onto a wound or add 1 tsp to water and drink for suspected internal bleeding (also seek medical advice). Helps to equalise blood pressure.
I’ve written in my book ‘an everything cure!’. Anti biotic, antiviral, astringent, anti inflammatory, anti allergy….take at the first sign of cold or flu, is an immune system booster, relieves congestion, helps treat bladder infections, increases bile flow so helps treat constipation and high cholesterol. I have it in liquid form.
Grapefruit seed extract:
Taken orally for bacterial, viral, fungal and yeast infections including thrush. Use as a mouthwash for tooth infections (successfully treated my partners infected gum after a tooth extraction avoiding antibiotics). Use for many skin conditions and colds and flu.
Apply a small dab with a cotton bud to help numb toothache
Mint, eucalyptus and chamomile:
Antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties. The menthol in fresh mint tea drunk during a cold makes its way into nasal passages, opening them up, and works as an expectorant helping to release phlegm while the chamomile helps to allow fluids to drain from the tubes. Peppermint is also an effective digestive aid for indigestion. Eucalyptus oil can be mixed with coconut oil to help open up the airways during chesty coughs and applied to the soles of the feet or chest.
As a tea it has sedative qualities so a good choice if you’re feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping.
A good motion sickness remedy and stomach settler. I have natural ginger boiled sweets for when sailing and also make my ginger cordial (you can see the recipe here). Also available in capsule form.
Apple cider vinegar:
I cured acid reflux which I’d had for many years with the help of this vinegar. Just add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of water and drink 15 minutes before a meal to help aid digestion and correct acid imbalance.
Taken daily but at the first sign of a cold take one 1000mg tablet at least three times per day until symptoms subside. Supplementing in this high dose helps to ‘saturate’ the cells (you may get slight loose stools which is ok short term, it just means you are excreting the excess, just reduce to one dose per day). 1000mg per day has been shown in studies to reduce symptoms of colds and also the duration by at least a day.