Judging by the popularity of holistic and alternative medicine, I think I’m not alone when I say that I find natural healing tips fascinating. I especially love traditional remedies that have been passed down from generation to generation. Considering the fact that many drugs that were prescribed years ago have since been recalled because of complications and side effects and that most biochemical compounds carry some level of risk, why not go back to our roots and explore ancient remedies that have been used successfully for millennia?
For example, I’ve seen many an eyebrow raised when I describe all the inventive ways I use garlic cloves to cure a number of conditions, from my kids’ ear infections to pinworms. (It really works for both!) Garlic is a natural microbial, and I consider it an option that is preferable to loading up my children with harsh antibiotics if I can avoid it. Yes, I medicate my kids when necessary, and yes, I vaccinate them. I just happen to believe that sometimes the simplest, most natural option is also the best one.
I have a very outspoken cleaning lady from Ukraine who comes to my house from time to time. She is always loaded with tidbits of health-related wisdom from her homeland. She uses many traditional remedies, boasting that she hasn’t been to a doctor in over 20 years. She actually chews on raw garlic all day long, insisting that it has magical powers against disease. She also highly recommends that you tape cabbage leaves to your chest when you have a bad cold rather than taking cough medication. I’ve never had the nerve to try it, but she insists it relieves congestion.
Ukraine is not the only place that has a tradition of natural medicines. All around the world you will find healing practices that have been woven into the fabric of a variety of cultures over thousands of years. While some of them are undoubtedly bubbemaises, many are astonishingly effective and have been around for ages for that very reason. Allow me to share some of my favorites.
Plants, Herbs and Other Good Stuff
Honey: If you’re the kind of person who tends to make contact with your oven rack while it’s still hot, or if you have ever spilled boiling hot soup on your skin, you’re going to love this one—especially since it’s something you already have in your kitchen. Long touted for its healing powers, honey was used centuries ago to treat wounds, burns and infections. Modern science has confirmed that it is an excellent treatment for these woes because of its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. A recent study found that a honey dressing is more effective than Silvadene (silver sulfadiazine) for burns, and that patients who were treated with it healed more quickly and experienced lower infection rates. So pass the honey!
Pomegranate: If you happen to be reading this while you are eating, you might want to stop now. Let’s talk about treating parasitic infections, like intestinal worms. (I warned you!)
Depending on the severity of the condition and the number of parasites, modern-day treatments range from drugs that essentially poison the parasites to surgical intervention in severe cases. In ancient Egypt, however, people were encouraged to eat pomegranates to treat infestations of “snakes of the digestive system,” as they were called. Interestingly, scientists have found that the high tannin content of this fruit paralyzes worms so that they can be expelled.