My grandmother was full of helpful sayings, I used to think she was pulling my leg BUT was Nan right after all? When she told her old wives tales, was she really just referencing age-old natural remedies for a cold or other ailments.
Her favourites were “An Apple a day keeps the doctor away” and “Eat your carrots they will help you see in the dark”.
If I had toothache she would give me oil of cloves to put on the affected tooth.
These homespun hints were passed down from generation to generation to help keep the family in good health and provide a cure to some illnesses as doctors and medicine were costly before the NHS was a part of life.
It makes total sense really, we know that eating fantastic natural healthy food can do wonders for boosting the immune system.
Many of the health remedies that have come down through the generations and are part of health folklore are being looked at by modern science and are being found to be more than just an old wives myth and can indeed provide relief for illness and disease.
With the overuse of antibiotics and the high cost of man-made medicines that can have negative side effects surely this can only be a good thing?
Natural remedies can definitely have a place in our modern life to help prevent and treat some minor illness.
Wounded and ill animals will use nature’s medicine chest to help themselves but us humans have become reliant on the synthetic man-made remedies to help us when we are ill.
To increase our chances of a healthier life with less chance of disease and dysfunction we need to get back to nature.
This is not to say that modern medicine should be dismissed and we are in no way saying stop any important prescribed medication but natural remedies do have a place and a part to play alongside these drugs.
Lets begin by looking at the claim apples have on “keeping the doctor away”. Apples are a potent source of antioxidants such as phenol, so a daily dose can help prevent disease.
They are also high in Vitamin C which benefits the development of collagen for muscles, bones, blood vessels and cartilage.
A 2013 study found that if people over the age of 50 ate an apple a day it could prevent or delay 8500 strokes and heart attacks a year.
“Improve you brain by eating fish” my nan used to say. Were you told to eat you fish when you were younger?
This old wives tale might just have some proof to it. Fish oil contained in fish contains omega-3 and omega–6 which are significant for normal growth and development of brain function.
Dr. Alex Richardson, neuroscientist and senior research fellow of Oxford University, along with Dr. M Portwood conducted a study on 120 primary school children who had coordination challenges, the children were given omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs and after 3 months, improvements in school performance were considerable.
A study carried out by Harvard University on mothers who ate more fish in the second trimester of pregnancy, found their infants did better on the 6 month tests.
CAUTION : mercury-laden fish is to be avoided in pregnancy.
Fish oil has also been shown to protect against Alzheimer’s disease as well as coronary heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties contained in fish oil also protect blood vessels and can help with stiffness and joint tenderness.
Fish oil has also been shown to help reduce stress.
Carrots high in antioxidants in particular lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, a forerunner to Vitamin A, help to slow down macular degeneration, a leading cause of elderly blindness.
Meaning carrots really could be good for the eyes!
Research carried out in the National Eye Institute of America found that high intakes of antioxidants contained in carrots, can help prevent macular degeneration.
The lutein in carrots also helps to protect the retina and lowers the risk of macular degeneration. The vitamin A helps maintain a clear cornea protecting the cells in the eyes and body.
A lack of vitamin A can lead to an inability to see in dim light. So eating carrots might just “help you see in the dark”.
I thought this one was my grandmothers excuse to have a glass of wine, ”A tipple a day is good for you”.
But research into this has shown that as long as the tipple is red wine, there might just be some truth in it. The polyphenols and procyanidins that are present in red wine can obstruct the manufacture of the protein endothelin-1 which clogs the arteries thereby increasing the risk of a heart attack.
So a glass of red wine could be good for you benefitting your heart by possibly reducing your blood pressure and lowering your cholesterol. More than a glass and you are then risking more harm than good.
Dread long journeys? Car sickness or motion nausea can be helped by eating olives, when the symptoms first appear, the tannin contained in the olives eliminate the saliva that activate the nausea.
Beloved by Pooh Bear, Honey had its first recorded medicinal treatment by the Egyptians some 3000 years ago.
But studies have found that honey can help with indigestion, relief of nausea, lowering of cholesterol, as because honey is full of natural probiotic so it promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Honey also has antibacterial properties so it can help to treat urinary infections and to treat a sore throat.
When mixed with lemon or peppermint in hot water it’s one of the best natural remedies for a cold. It provides a fast acting benefit for a scratchy throat.
Or take a teaspoon of honey with a squeeze of lemon juice to soothe your sore throat, this remedy could trap any bacteria before it takes hold.
A tablespoon of honey added to warm milk promotes a good nights sleep by increasing the melatonin output.
Raw honey can also improve your circulation by strengthening the heart and making the best of your brain function.
Are you an eczema sufferer? Well, grandma was right about Oatmeal helping. Oatmeal contains anti-inflammatory properties, grind it into a paste, gently rub over the affected area and it can sooth your eczema.
We all rely on over the counter medication or heaven forbid antibiotics to rid us of bad colds but are there natural remedies for a cold that can help?
By inhaling steam it helps you to decongest by getting the mucus moving and also stopping the bacteria building up which happens when mucus is stuck in your nose or sinuses or chest.
By holding your towel covered head over a bowl of hot water inhale the steam, keeping a safe distance from the boiling water.
Another idea is to put 2 to 3 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil on a cloth in a bathroom, then take a shower. The hot water should release the decongestant and expectorant properties in the Eucalyptus essential oil into the steam in the shower, a nice natural inhaler.
Another ancient herb used in medicine, Cinnamon has been used for thousands of years as a healing herb.
It is used today to flavor buns, curries and cappuccino but cinnamon bark contains the chemical cinnamaldehyde that kills bacteria and according to herbalist James A. Duke PhD, cinnamon can reduce a fever and is an anti-inflammatory.
Dr. Dukes’ grandmother has a recipe for the common cold that included the use of powdered cinnamon or the cinnamon sticks together with lemon juice…
Add 2 sticks of cinnamon to 8oz of boiling water, cover and leave for 20 minutes. When this has slightly cooled add honey and lemon. Drink this up to 3 times a day
Dr Duke has a fantastic book called ‘The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook’ and it covers the best herbs for healing. Well worth a read.[adrotate group=”43″]
How many grandmothers made you chicken soup when you had a cold? This has now been proven to ease cold symptoms.
The amino acid cysteine, which is in chicken helps to thin mucus, pepper added for flavor eases congestion, the onion and garlic in the soup are antiviral and helps you to cough up the bacteria that builds up in the lungs.
Finally the steam that rises from the hot bowl of soup helps to clear the stuffy nose.
An old West Indian wives tale talks about this fierce recipe that was often used as natural remedy for a cold…
To ½ a cup of lemon juice add 1 clove of crushed garlic, 1 teaspoon of grated ginger and 2 tablespoons of vinegar (not malt) then finally add a pinch of cayenne.
Mix together and drink.
This works because it has ingredients that fight colds; the ginger and garlic are natural antibiotics. The lemon juice and cayenne are astringent which help to clear the mucus and wet coughs.
So before reaching for the pill bottle or asking the doctor for antibiotics why not look for natural remedies for a cold or other minor ailments.
It could be a healthier, more effective answer.
For anything serious we advise to always speak to your doctor.
Do you know any great Natural and Herbal remedies that really work? We’d love you to share them in the comments below…
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