Natural Remedies: Green Health

Life expectancy is now at an all-time high. Along with medical advances and access to health care there have been, and continue to be, developments in most areas of medical treatment.  People now are treated for relatively common illnesses which in previous times might have killed them.  Many bacterial infections are no longer life threatening thanks to the discovery of penicillin, and other anti biotics.

Since the early days of modern medicine, there have been amazing developments in surgical procedures to help medical conditions such as pain relief, and anesthesia and all areas of healthcare.   There are huge pharmaceutical companies investing, developing and producing pills and medicines.    Pharmacies stock rows and rows of shelves, bursting with remedies and treatments for every ailment known to man.  Most of these are chemically based and many come at a price to the patient, environment and unfortunately to animals on whom these medicines are tested.  As with any large scale manufacturing industry, the pharmaceuticals have wildly varying success with their eco credentials, although there is a growing movement towards following Green Chemistry principles*.

Whilst it is important to seek medical advice and treatment for ongoing illnesses, there are many natural remedies that have been used successfully over many, many years, with little or no carbon footprint.  Rather than an expensive trip to the pharmacy, we could look in our kitchen cupboards, or buy natural ingredients to make our own natural remedies.  Not all are medically proven, but they may work for you.  They certainly work for the environment!  All of these should be used with care and with caution if you have ongoing health problems.  Please consult your doctor to check if these are safe for you to use.


Prevention is better than a cure

A natural, healthier lifestyle, which supports your physical and emotional well-being,  can help us to prevent illness.  The old phrase of balancing work, rest and play is still true today as it was in ages past.  Whilst we know that plants need soil, water and sunshine to thrive and grow, it is easy to forget, or marginalize, what we actually need for our bodies to function properly and to stay healthy.

  • We need air, not just stale office, or home air, but fresh, clean air to breathe.  Traditionally babies were left wrapped up warm in their strollers or cribs and left outside to get a dose of fresh air whilst napping!  Whist I am not advocating that, the value of breathing clean, fresh air cannot be over emphasized.
  • We need to drink enough fluids.

“ How can you know if you’re getting enough water to keep your metabolism cranking at peak efficiency and your digestive system functioning? The formula used to be “one size fits all” — eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. But that’s changed, experts say.

“It depends on your size and weight, and also on your activity level and where you live,” Nessler says. “In general, you should try to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day.” For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. If you’re living in a hot climate and exercising a lot, you’d be on the higher end of that range; if you’re in a cooler climate and mostly sedentary, you’d need less”

  • Balanced diet. The food we eat affects our basic health.  If we eat good, fresh, organic food and have a balanced diet, we will have most of the vitamins and minerals our body needs to function.    Ready-made meal or processed food are best avoided, or at least limited. Any food with its own TV commercial falls into this category!
  • Rest and a good night’s sleep, on a mattress and bedding made of natural, ecofriendly components, such as latex, and cotton.
  • Regular exercise, even just walking for a few minutes a day or taking the stairs.
  • Washing hands, keeping clean also add to good health by getting rid of the bad bacteria. Scrubbing our bodies with natural sponge, or brushes whilst bathing is great for cleanliness – and your skin. Also using essential oils such as tea tree oil for prevention of head lice or witch hazel. Both are amazing for skin problems


Amazing kitchen cupboard remedies

Before the pharmaceutical remedies were available, it was common place to treat coughs and colds with honey and lemon hot drinks and with steam inhalations, perhaps with menthol added. They still work today – and taste much nicer!

Salt was also dissolved in water, was gargled to help with sore throats, or bathed in to reduce infection and aid recovery of scars. Simple, natural, yet effective.

Rubbing onions on the skin apparently helps sooth itching from insect bites, garlic strengthens immune system, is an anti-viral, and if rubbed on skin and  it also keeps mosquitoes away.!

Drinking Cranberry juice, barley water, baking soda in water is useful for healthier bladders, or to help with bladder infections.

Ginger or peppermint can help with nausea and digestion.

The next time you reach for some chemicals to relieve a problem, look in the kitchen cupboards first and see what happens!


Super ingredients

There are two super, natural, readily available products, which can combat many different ailments and are probably already inside your kitchen cupboard.


1.  Honey – including Manuka honey

  1. Soothes coughs. A 2007 study from Penn State College of Medicine that involved 139 children, found that buckwheat honey outperformed the cough suppressant, dextromethorphan (DM), in calming nighttime coughs in children and improving theirsleep. Another study published in Pediatrics included 270 children aged one to five with nighttime cough due to simple colds; in this study, the children who received two teaspoons of honey 30 minutes before bed, coughed less frequently, less severely and were less likely to lose sleep due to the cough when compared to those who didn’t get honey.
  2. Boosts memory
  3. Treats wounds in numerous studies, honey has been found effective in successfully treating wounds and ulcers.
  4. Provides nutrients According to theNational Honey Board, honey contains “small amounts of a wide array of vitamins and minerals, including niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc.”
  5. Potentially prevents low white blood cell count. The Mayo Clinic notes that honey may be a promising and inexpensive way to prevent low white blood cell count caused by chemotherapy. In one small trial, 40 percent of cancer patients who were known to be at risk of neutropenia (very low blood count) had no further episodes of the condition after taking two teaspoons daily of therapeutic honey during chemotherapy.
  6. May relieve seasonal allergies. Many people swear by honey’s ability to lessen symptoms of seasonal allergy. As honey has anti-inflammatory effects and is known to soothe coughs, it may not seem like much of a stretch; but honey’s efficacy for treating allergy hasn’t been proven in clinical studies. That said, some experts say that honey can contain traces of flower pollen, and exposure to small amounts of allergens works as good treatment to combat reactions.
  7. Kills antibiotic-resistant bacteria In clinical studies, medical grade honey has been shown to kill food-borne illness pathogens like E. coli and salmonella, as well as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, both of which are common in hospitals and doctors’ offices.
  8. Makes great workout fuel. The National Honey Board recommends adding honey to your bottle of water for an energy boost during workouts. Snacks with honey can be eaten before and after, and honey sticks can be used during endurance events.
  9. Resolves scalp problems and dandruff – apply honey diluted with 10 percent warm water to their problem areas and leave it on for three hours before rinsing with warm water.


All of that aside, be cautious when using honey.  There are two important things to remember about honey: One, just because it proffers numerous health benefits doesn’t mean it’s not caloric; one tablespoon yields 64 calories. Also, it’s crucial to remember that honey is not appropriate for children younger than 12 months because it can contain the bacteria that causes infant botulism.


2. Cider vinegar.

  1. Freshen your mouth- rinse with cider vinegar
  2. Treat acid reflux taking one to two teaspoons ofapple cider vinegar daily.
  3. Alleviate GI distress if one suffers from diarrhea caused by a bacterial infection, apple cider vinegar may help due to its antibiotic properties. As well, some experts suggest that pectin in apple cider vinegar can help calm intestinal spasms. If you’re suffering: Mix one or two tablespoons into water or apple juice and drink.
  4. Prevent indigestion. If you’re planning on indulging in a meal that you expect might not get along very well with your stomach, try drinking one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with one teaspoon of honey mixed in a small glass of warm water 30 minutes before you dine.
  5. Halt hiccups . Swallow one teaspoonful
  6. It seems that whatever hair camp you fall into, vinegar can help, or replace, shampoo completely.
  7. Soothe a sore throat. As soon as you feel the first signs of a sore throat, try one of two methods. Mix 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with warm water and gargle every hour; or mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with hot water and a shot of honey and sip.
  8. Fight the itch. A dab of apple cider vinegar applied with a cotton ball is commonly recommended to make a pesky mosquito bite stop itching. It will sting a bit, but it will help quell the prickly tickle. (Also good for helping with sunburn)
  9. Brighten skin. Many who suffer the angst caused by skin problems — from psoriasis and eczema to dry skin and blemishes — praise apple cider vinegar for reducing inflammation and generally minimizing problems. Try dabbing it on affected areas with a cotton ball.
  10. Decrease glucose levels. Several studies have shown its positive effect on blood glucose levels; a 2007 study of participants with type-2 diabetes found that two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed lowered glucose in the morning by 4 to 6 percent.


Warning …the Mayo Clinic thinks we should know is the following: Taking small amounts of apple cider vinegar should not offer many risks, but taking in larger amounts on a regular basis could prove problematic. It is highly acidic and may cause problems ranging from harm to the teeth to lower potassium levels, lower bone density, and interaction with some medications. As with all supplements, talk to your health care provider before starting a new regimen.


Essential oils and plant remedies

Natural remedies are also available to buy for many common ailments. If you suffer with these problems why not try to heal them without compromising the earth and with less side effects than chemicals.

Witch hazel is a great natural remedy for skin problems such as acne.

Camomile – calming

Peppermint  – aids digestion

Arnica for bruises.

Essential oils produced from natural plants such as:

Lavender – good for burns, aiding sleep.

Tea Tree – antiseptic – great to prevent head lice.

Whether these remedies are proven by science or not, they have worked over many years for many people.   They may work for you and are perhaps worth a try.

In some instances these can complement, rather than replace conventional medicine.  They could be an effective attempt to combat minor illnesses and complaints prior to a trip to the doctor or pharmacy. Our kitchen cupboards many contain many of the remedies we need to stay healthy and are much more accessible!

A word of warning – Not all alternative medicines are green.  They may contain some natural ingredients but many are also commercially produced, with the same manufacturing and transportation issues as any other medicines.  As the green Chemistry movement develops hopefully these and conventional medicines could be produced efficiently with less harm to the environment.



* Green chemistry is also known as environmentally benign chemistry, or sustainable chemistry. Perhaps the most widely accepted definition of green chemistry is the one offered by chemists Paul Anastas and John Warner, who defined green chemistry as the design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances.

Read more: more: Prevention

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