1. When diarrhea strikes his family, Gannady Raskin, MD, ND, dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University, cures it with herbal concoctions. “Tea made from pomegranate skin will help an upset stomach,” he says. Set aside the leftovers of your next purchase; you can store dried skin for up to 6 months. Then steep a tablespoon’s worth in a cup of boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Oak bark (available at health food stores) works, too: Boil for 3 minutes, let sit for half an hour, and then strain. Both recipes are rich in tannins, which help the body produce mucus to line the stomach and lessen irritation. Drink 2 tablespoons, 4 to 6 times a day.
2. If you suspect food poisoning, couple black tea with a few pieces of burned toast, says Georgianna Donadio, PhD, director of the National Institute of Whole Health, a holistic certification program for medical professionals. “The tannic acid in tea and charcoal in the toast will neutralize the toxins and help you get much better very quickly.” Burned rice on the pan, made into a warm drink works too.
3. In the early stages of cold or flu, try this recipe from Brian Berman, MD, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine: Place a whole unpeeled grapefruit, sectioned into four pieces, in a pot and cover with water; heat to just under a boil. Stir and add a tablespoon of honey, and drink the whole mixture like tea. “The simmering releases immune boosters from the grapefruit into the water–vitamin C and flavonoids hidden between the rind and the fruit,” he says. “The concoction packs more punch than store-bought grapefruit juice, plus the warmth eases a sore throat.” To beef up your body’s healing response, he swears by liquid olive leaf extract, available at health food stores. Studies suggest that its antiviral qualities can help treat cold and flu bugs. “You end up getting rid of mucus sooner, and it helps your immune system fight back as well,” Dr. Berman says. Vit C and zinc losenges work too.
4. Itchy scalp, sunburn or any skin disorder in mouth or any body part, use aloe vera.
5. Congestion and bronchitis call for an oldie but a goodie, says Woodson Merrell, MD, an assistant clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons: medicated vapor rub. Applied to the chest, it helps stuffed-up sufferers breathe easier, but Dr. Merrell prefers a cleaner approach: Boil a pot of water, let it cool for about 1 minute, and then mix in a teaspoon of vapor rub. Lean over it with your head about a foot from the steam. Use a towel over your head to make a tent, and inhale for 5 minutes. Yes for massage with vapor rub not only on chest and back but also on feet.
6. You can soothe a toothache with cloves; the old-fashioned remedy really works, says Jack Dillenberg, DDS, dean of the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health. But today, not everyone has the spice handy, so he recommends eugenol–clove extract–available at your pharmacy. Soak a cotton ball and place it directly on the tooth for several minutes, and the pain should subside until you can get to a dentist. Tea tree mouth wash works too.
7. Recurring fever blisters (you might know them as cold sores) can’t be completely cured–but they can be treated, and outbreaks prevented, with the amino acid L-lysine, found in ointments or tablets in health food stores, says Paul Horowitz, MD, medical director of the Legacy Pediatric Clinics at Emanuel Children’s Hospital in Portland, OR. If you’re among the 60 to 90% of Americans who carry the herpesvirus that causes blisters, start taking 1,000 mg three times a day with meals as soon as you feel an outbreak coming on. (The supplement may not be safe for those with high cholesterol, heart disease, or high triglycerides.)
8. After a hard workout, Declan Connolly, PhD, a professor of exercise science at the University of Vermont, drinks a bottle of tart cherry juice; he studied its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities and concluded that it helps sore muscles recover. “Though you may feel fine initially after a workout, your tissues suffer tiny tears and swelling,” he says. “Tart cherries contain higher amounts of anthocyanins–antioxidants that help repair damage–than sweet cherries and most other fruits or vegetables.” Dr. Connolly tested the brand CherryPharm, available to consumers and athletes at CherryPharm.com. You can also find other brands of 100% tart cherry juice or juice concentrate in natural food supermarkets or health food stores.
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