Once called the “Martha Stewart of herbs,” Letha Hadady is one of the nation’s leading experts on natural remedies. Her newest book, Naturally Pain Free, offers readers various natural ways to treat chronic and acute pains, from toothaches to carpal tunnel syndrome.
We sorted through the 291-page book and picked out just a few of the natural ways to treat the most common aches and pains out there.
Rubbing aloe vera gel on a sunburn or a cut is a popular treatment, but as an alternative you can use black tea bags. Black tea is astringent, which means it protects the skin and reduces oozing wounds. Also, it’s “antibacterial and begins the healing process, making new cells for skin-damage accidents,” Hadady writes. Black tea also helps brighten tired skin.
The treatment: Pour cold, strong-brewed black tea onto the burn and repeat every five to ten minutes until the skin feels soothed. Don’t rub the burn.
Even brushing, flossing, and gargling with mouthwash won’t guard against bad breath 100 percent of the time. To prevent it, Hadady says to make sure your diet includes foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, kiwi, strawberries, guava, and lemon. Or try an at-home mouthwash.
The treatment: Gargle with one tablespoon of unrefined sesame oil for ten to 15 minutes every morning after brushing your teeth. Spit out and rinse with water.
Spending too much time staring at a computer can cause headaches, cloudy vision, and/or eye burning. The key to treating eye strain, Hadady says, is to increase blood circulation and moisture to the eyes, using cucumbers or wet tea bags. (Note: Black tea will help reduce eye swelling, too).
The treatment: Lie on your back or sit in a chair, and place a slice of cucumber or a cold, wet teabag over each eye. Leave on for five minutes.
Joint pain is often most noticeable when it’s cold and damp out, says Hadady. To treat aches, turn to warming foods and herbs that will increase sweating and enhance circulation to reduce stiff joints.
The treatment: Drink a cup of hot cinnamon tea, or add a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon to hot water. Rosemary works well, too.
Indigestion—the constant burping, the bloating, the stomach pain—is anything but pleasant. It’s caused by the types of food we mix together for a meal, Hadady says. For example, fast-digesting fruits mixed with slow-digesting proteins or grains cause gas bubbles. Various teas and spices can do the trick next time that food coma tries to take over.
The treatment: Eat fruit with tea or coffee, but wait an hour to eat other foods. Ginger tea aids in indigestion, as do fennel seeds and bay leaves. Drinking aloe vera juice mixed with water also soothes the digestive tissues for those who suffer from acid reflux.
With summer and humidity comes those pesky mosquitoes. And for many, even dousing one’s self in the strongest bug spray out there doesn’t seem to work. Turns out mosquitoes love the way you smell, Hadady says, especially if you have the scent of sweet fruit coming through your pores.
The treatment: Mosquitoes don’t like the smell of vitamin B, so Hadady says to take a large dose before spending a long time outdoors. Or you can mix mint, lavender, and citronella essential oils together and apply it to exposed areas. Already have a bite? Apply one drop of plain liquid ammonia to the bump to reduce itching.Photographs courtesy of Flickr users A Girl with Tea, Cocteau Boy, vizzzual.com, S. Diddy, zoyachubby, and SummerTomato.