The Natural Medicine Cabinet: Healing
Did you ever wonder why drugstore medicines tout their natural ingredients? It got me to thinking as to why I’d rather pay into big pharma’s pockets instead of just going the natural route from the beginning.
A few years ago, I decided to ditch the Tylenol and start using more natural remedies for my family’s health. Over the years, I’ve found myself using lots of products regularly.
In fact, the only “traditional” medicine I keep in the house is allergy relief, pain reliever for when I feel a migraine coming on, and of course an emergency prescription in case a migraine does hit. Otherwise, nada.
You know by now that I’m a big proponent of keeping your body healthy through diet and exercise. There is simply no substitute, even a natural one, for regular movement and good food. However, sometimes you get injured, and sometimes despite your best efforts, you get sick.
I went through my “medicine cabinet” for the four remedies we use most often. I hope these are helpful to you in your quest to simplify and get back to radiant, natural health!
Tea Tree Oil
This stuff is just miraculous. It’s antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral. That in itself was enough for me. However, it’s also great for helping wounds heal, getting rid of canker sores, and nixing dandruff.
A few considerations when it comes to tea tree. First, it’s powerful. I have sensitive skin, so I always mix it with a carrier oil. We use extra virgin olive oil. Coconut oil would work well too on wounds since it contains many of the same “anti-” properties, so long as it’s in liquid form (ie room temperature above 72 degrees).
Second, do NOT swallow it. I know people who brush their teeth with tea tree oil and a bit of baking soda. I wouldn’t brush my teeth with it because it can irritate the delicate gum tissue.
Some also swear by diluting it in a pint of water to help heal sore throats. Since I’ve always heard that it’s poisonous if taken internally, I wouldn’t recommend that.
Tea tree oil can help treat bacterial and fungal infections, like dandruff, nail fungus, and acne. You can mix a few drops in with your shampoo and leave for 5-10 minutes to help eliminate the fungus that causes dandruff. For nail fungus, mix ten drops into a natural moisturizer, then cover feet and leave 8 or more hours.
Did you get a spider bite? Dab a cotton ball on it that was dipped in a bit of tea tree oil mixed with lavender as a carrier. Fido have fleas or ticks? Add some tea tree to his next bath to help prevent both!
When I get a blemish, I love to dilute tea tree in coconut oil. I dab it on right before bed, and the spot is usually gone in the morning. No reason to use an expensive chemical spot treatment when I just have to open my pantry!
However, it is recommended that pregnant and nursing women avoid tea tree. I’ve used it on my newborns when their cord stumps fell off prematurely and infection was a possibility and they have been fine.
If you don’t dilute the oil and find that you have itchiness, redness, or irritation, just be sure to avoid using it straight the next time.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract does many of the same things that tea tree oil does. So why do I have both? Two reasons. First, grapefruit seed extract is more expensive in my neck of the woods. Second, you can take grapefruit internally.
I use it mainly for two purposes. First, it’s alkalizing to the body, meaning that it can counteract some of the acidifying things that we do (such as eating meat and dairy and living in a polluted environment).
I usually add a 4-6 drops to a hot drink (usually the Master Cleanse recipe, just because I think it’s so tasty). Grapefruit seed extract is a major preventative in our household.
It can also help kill pathogens such as those that cause staph, strep, pneumonia, E. coli and salmonella. Those are all bad news, so I’m happy for all of those abilities!
My main use for grapefruit seed extract, however, is as a fruit and vegetable wash. I like to clean all my produce as once when I get home from the market. I place it all in the sink and spray it down with the recipe that follows:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. baking soda
- 20 drops of grapefruit seed extract
After ten minutes or so I rinse and put it away. It’s easy, it’s fast, it’s cheap, and it’s natural. What’s not to love?
Witch hazel is fantastic. Have I ever mentioned how allergic I am to poison ivy?
By allergic, I mean eyes-swollen-shut-shot-in-the-butt-required poison ivy. It’s ugly, and it takes my skin weeks to recover.
In addition to oatmeal baths and antihistamines, I use witch hazel to help with the symptoms. It helps control both the itching and the swelling, and that’s great for me!
Witch hazel is also my choice when it comes to diaper rash on my little ones. They don’t get it often, but I prefer it to a non-breathable alternative.
My children get cuts and scrapes like any other kids, and I grab the witch hazel to clean and disinfect them. We don’t use Neosporin, and the best part is that witch hazel doesn’t burn like alcohol.
Finally, I love witch hazel for treating and even preventing razor burn. I have crazy sensitive, fair skin, and get razor burn literally every time I shave. Using witch hazel before shaving, when I remember and am not in a hurry, is a great preventative.
Most often I forget and grab the bottle when I start itching (which is usually within an hour in the winter, sigh), I sweep it on with a cotton pad and start to feel better right away.
We’ve all seen the commercials, right? The old lady tilts her head to the side and water pours out one side of her face? Yeah, it’s not pretty.
I resisted the neti pot for about a year, when I decided that I’d rather look like an idiot than have my sinuses explode from congestion.
The kid at Walgreens snickered as I came to the counter with my purchase, but I didn’t care (much). I brought that plastic pot home, loaded it up with the salt/baking soda solution and warm water, and got to work.
It took a couple of tries. The first time it came out the same nostril (not enough head tilt). The second time I swallowed some snot-laden salt water (mouth not open enough). The third time, though, I got it.
I’ve since changed from the solution they provide to making my own. Now I use Real Salt and baking soda because it doesn’t dry my nasal passages the way manufactured salt does.
I know people who use their pots daily, or even several times per day. As for me, I just use it when I feel congested, eat too much dairy, or find that allergy season is coming on. Still, it’s invaluable to our home!
Check back next week when we look at some great food products in both food and non-food applications that enhance natural health!