Home medicines that may be hiding on our kitchen shelves: Herbs and Spices

Home medicines that may be hiding on our kitchen shelves: Herbs and Spices

Since so many of us are tucked away in our houses right now and the shelves at our local stores are dwindling, let’s take a look around the kitchen and see what sort of medicine we have that might be of use. Of course, this is not to replace a visit to the doctor for more serious issues or anything that seems to linger.

  • Honey: raw is best. Don’t use on babies under one year old. A spoonful a day (teaspoon) of local raw honey can help alleviate seasonal allergies. It is also a great antiseptic. Spread some across an infected wound and cover with gauze. (It’s sticky!) Mark the border of the redness with ink to make sure that the infection doesn’t continue to spread. Red streaks or worsening infection requires medical attention.
  • Banana peel. The greener bananas are best. The inside of the banana peel taped over a splinter will help dislodge it. I’ve also used banana peel taped onto a plantar wart to remove it. In that case, I had to change it several times over the course of a week and finally it fell off. But my favorite treatment for plantar warts is duct tape. Place a small square of it over the wart. It usually takes a couple of weeks. If the tape becomes loose, replace it right away. I’ve also read that super glue will work, but I’ve been known to glue my fingers to things with super glue, so I’m partial to duct tape.
  • Raw garlic is great for infections. Chop it or grind it and make a paste to apply to wounds or juice it and gargle it, then drink it for a sore throat. It also kills some parasites.
  • Black tea steeped. Cool the bag slightly and place over a boil to draw it to a head. You can use it on bee stings and spider bites too. The tannins in tea help draw things out. It can help with styes in the same way. In a pinch, chamomile tea works too. Careful not to burn yourself.
  • Fresh thyme tea steeped for 10 minutes with honey does wonders for a cough. 1 TBSP per cup of water.
  • Parsley is a good diuretic. Chop it and add it to food. Or juice it.
  • Ginger works for nausea. Roots do best gently boiled for 10 minutes, leaves like thyme are best steeped.
  • Chamomile and fennel both work for gas pains and are safe for small children. These are the main ingredients of grippe water.
  • Rice water, under ripe bananas, apples and darkened toast make up the BRAT diet which helps diarrhea.

Before I go, I need to mention the importance of water. Internally for almost everything. I’ve seen it cure a headache in my kids within 10 minutes. Add a pinch of sea salt if you are feeling dehydrated. Externally, cold for acute swellings, warm with Epsom salts for chronic aches and pains.  Alternating hot and cold compresses improves circulation and works for chronic inflammations like tendinitis and bursitis.

I could go on but sadly have run out of room. Good luck and stay well! And don’t fret if you can’t find something on the shelf at your pharmacy. Chances are you have something in your cupboard that will help in a pinch.

Dr. Jennifer Means welcomes you for Primary Care for the whole family: Nutrition, IV Therapy, Naturopathy, and Acupuncture. Contact us at 503-641-6400.