Natural Medicine

Feeling under the weather? The weather in Philadelphia has been oscillating back and forth between chilly and rainy and HOT HOT HOT. I think it's wreaking havoc on everyones systems, including mine. Here are a few natural remedies for whatever may be ailing you.

Have a pollen allergy? Try adding local honey to your diet. Bees create honey after collecting pollen from flowers in their area. Using local honey means ingesting small amounts of pollen in the air near you, eventually resulting in a tolerance to the stuff. When purchasing honey, remember the less processed the better (raw is best). It can be eaten by itself, drizzled onto yogurt or bread, or stirred into tea. 

Other benefits include cough suppression as well as antibacterial properties that help keep wounds clean and speed up the healing process. 

Note: Due to the risk of botulism, honey should not be given to children under one. 

Echinacea, an herb most commonly made available in tea, is known for its ability to boost the production of white blood cells and strengthen the immune response. Native to central North America, the  medicinal uses of Echinacea were first explored by Native American tribes including the Kiowa, who used it for coughs and sore throats, the Cheyenne, for sore throats, the Pawnee, for headaches, and the Lakotah, who used it as an analgesic. When I feel a cold coming on, I have a few cups of Echinacea tea in the hopes of preventing the cold, but when I miss the early signs, it also works great at shortening the length and symptoms of it. The most potent brand I've found is Traditional Medicinals Echinacea Plus (side note for the ladies: they also make an amazing tea for period cramps called Female Toner).

This trick I learned from my partner when we were still in college. To ease congestion, heat a small amount of vinegar to a boil. Stand immediately over the boiling vinegar and let the pungent odor clear out stubborn mucus. 

Upset Stomach
Ginger root has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years and it should be on the top of the grocery list any time you're feeling under the weather. It's believed to be an anti-bacterial that can increase digestion, improve blood circulation, reduce inflammation, and stimulate enzyme production in the pancreas. It was great for soothing morning sickness and now I seek out ginger any time I start feeling off, whether it's an upset tummy or a potential cold. My favorite way to consume it is in a lemon mint elixir from a Lebanese bakery near us (Mannakeesh). I'm working on creating my own version of the intensely flavored drink, but this recipe is similar. Other options: After peeling ginger root, it can be eaten by itself or grated and boiled in water for a simple soup.

I'm no stranger to insomnia. When I think it might be a tough night, I find aromatherapy to be the extra dose of relaxation I need to get to sleep. Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils extracted from plants to improve physical and psychological well being. These essential oils can be massaged into skin and/or inhaled. My favorite way to utilize aromatherapy is with Badger Sleep Balm, a solid blend of oils and beeswax that can be massaged onto the face and body. It's mess free, completely organic, and has a much more powerful (and pure) scent than other night time lotions. Here's how Badger describes the essential oils used in this balm: "Rosemary is the traditional herb for clear thinking, confidence, and memory. Bergamot is mentally uplifting, and Ginger is strengthening and confidence-inducing. Balsam Fir is refreshing, like a walk in the woods, while Lavender is the traditional sleep herb: fresh and relaxing." Badger makes several other balms based on the principles of aromatherapy, including Headache Soother, Baby Balm (Merle LOVES this), and Sore Muscle Rub

Body Aches
Surprisingly aromatherapy works for body aches too. Badger's Sore Muscle Rub mentioned above works great, but rice bags that can be heated or frozen are a must have in our house. Yes, it's like a good old fashioned ice pack when frozen or a hot pad been warm. What makes rice bags unique are their ability to conform to ailing body parts and provide a gentle pressure to improve circulation. They often contain essential oils blended into the rice which adds to the healing/relaxation benefits. Check back later this week for a simple tutorial on how to make your own (or for gifts). 

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