How many of us, when we were still infants, cried “doctor!” when sick? I always cried “mom!” The chief cook and budget master is usually the one delegated to be a general practitioner when it comes to home medicine.
If only mom could cure like she cooks! In many homes across America today, moms and even dads are doing just that. It seems as if we’re in the midst of a herbal renascence. Modern society is once again regaining their lost confidence in home medicine, and health food stores are prospering in the wake of a “gold rush home medicine.
The return of home medicine
Herbal concoctions are being pulped and powdered and distilled into balms and pills and elixirs that are starting to rival the popularity of the myriad over-the-counter chemical medicines and at the same outlandish prices.
I contend that there is little need for this, for some of the safest and most effective natural medicines of all can be found in your own kitchen cupboard in the guise of herbs and spices: you just have to know how to use them.
Using herbs for healing makes good sense if one were to discard a remedy because it came from a plant he’d have to reject such remarkable medicines as aspirin, penicillin, digitalis, and quinine, just to name a few.
Another advantage to using spices and herbs is that there’s no question of their being edible (though some such as nutmeg and mace should be administered in small doses). Really, there’s very little difference between learning to cook with herbs and learning to heal with them, and when the knowledge of the two are combined, that person can cook up some of the most delicious cures known to man.
Related reading: 6 Wild Healing Plants You Should Use
And that’s really an advantage to home medicines! Herbal home remedies, contrary to popular opinion, do not find their greatest benefit in being of plant origin, nor from being natural or inexpensive. Herbal home medicine find their importance in being right where we need them when we need them most, just a reach away in the home.
I won’t claim that any of the following herbs we’ll be discussing will produce miracles. I know of no cures for cancer or heart disease (although the action of one or two of the below-listed herbs might surely seem like a miracle), but in my quest for the knowledge of efficacious home medicines, I have come across a few shining examples.
And even those that don’t qualify as “miraculous” are still well worth keeping a good supply of in my household, if just for the reasons that they still do a little good and there just may come a day when these are all the medicines we have.
Home Medicine for Intestinal Distress
Few medicines I’ve ever taken had an immediate effect, aspirins included. But there is a common culinary herb that I’ve found that can give immediate relief to one of the most distressing occurrences of all: flatulence.
Few pains are sharper or more acute than severe flatulence (gas) resulting from a blockage in the intestines. When such an attack occurs and has the patient doubled over, it can be quickly dispelled by one cup of sage tea.
Simply cover a heaping tablespoon of sage leaves with one cup of boiling water, and let it steep for five minutes, or until you have a light to bright yellow tea. Any darker is too bitter a brew.
Drink this tea as is or with a little honey added, and the results are almost, well, miraculous. Few realize that the pilgrims’ use of sage in their “traditional” stuffing for turkey was more for the anti-flatulent properties of this herb than for the ethereal fragrance it imparts to the food.
An even tastier tea for flatulence, nearly the equal of sage, is brewed with the seeds of sweet anise. From the crushed seeds of sweet anise comes the oil that is the flavoring for the licorice candy we all know. In Middle-Eastern countries anise seeds are served at the end of big meals, to make a tasty appetizer that will help discourage the formation of gasses incurred from excessive eating.
Brew as you would sage tea, using a level teaspoon instead, and let steep for 10 minutes. Anise seeds are so naturally sweet this tea hardly needs sweetening. The ultimate medicine for licorice fanatics. Some other useful herbs for the expulsion of gas are cinnamon, basil, bay, nutmeg, and mace.
Related article: The Most Useful Methods To Prepare Medicinal Herbs
One of the great things about using herbs and spices as medicine is that they don’t have to be taken as medicine. Put them in soups, in casseroles, in dips, in cookies, ice creams or cakes—any way you like it; as long as you have enough, you’ll still get the medicinal effect.
There is no cure for the common cold, the most common affliction of all, but even so, there are a number of herbs that can lessen the symptoms, and at least make one feel more comfortable (and as anyone sick will tell you, feeling comfortable is the first cousin to feeling well).
Perhaps the cold medicine par excellence is horseradish. The medicinal properties of horseradish are listed as follows: expectorant, diaphoretic, antiscorbutic, diuretic and stimulant.
In layman’s terms, horseradish is a very effective medicine for loosening phlegm in the head and the chest. It helps the body to work up a good sweat, thereby combatting the fever. It is very high in vitamin C, will draw blood to the surface that it touches, aiding greatly in the healing of sore throats.
Horseradish also helps cleanse the body of toxic wastes and helps raise the patient’s energy level ever so slightly. To take this medicine, one can mix freshly ground horseradish half-and-half with catsup and serve it on baby shrimp in a bowl of watercress. It’s almost worth getting sick, and surely such a herb deserves a better name!
Home Medicine for the Flu Season
Flus, like colds, seem to run their cycles, especially this time of year, and when most people come down with the flu they simply resign them, selves to a few days of misery. Herein also lies one of the major plusses of herbal home remedies.
So what if the sickness is so minor that a visit to the doctor seems embarrassing and a waste of good money. Feeling miserable is still feeling miserable, and I personally want to be feeling better. Just giving in to sickness (or whatever) is the most debasing blow to the human spirit I know.
By using herbs at least a patient is doing something to fight back, and fighting back is an effective remedy in itself. That’s where thyme comes in.
Thyme is a savory member of the mint family, often used to season lasagna and spaghetti sauces. But thyme is also one of the most soothing herbs to an upset stomach, remaining down even when nothing else will adding desperately needed liquid and vitamins.
Thyme also acts as a cough suppressant, and a popular commercial cough syrup uses thyme as its “secret” ingredient. Besides coughs and upset stomachs, a gargle of thyme does wonders for sore throats. This is due to its active component thyme”, a powerful antiseptic that researchers have shown to be 26 times more potent than phenol.
A must read: 20 Herbal Remedies For The Winter Season
Being in the family of mint, thyme is one of the safest herbs on the market, and no fear ever needs to be harbored overtaking too much. Because thyme is safe, it’s also a little weak, and therefore needs to be made quite strong to be most effective.
For my own homemade thyme syrup, I take 1/2 cup dried thyme and pour one pint of boiling water over it, then leave it to sit 20 minutes. At the end of this time I strain off the remaining dark colored liquid, then I add 1/2 cups of light-colored honey and gently heat until the honey is dissolved. This syrup is then put into a sterilized jar, capped off and left in the refrigerator to cool and use as needed. It will last for about two weeks. Take it two tablespoons at a time, several times a day. A good rule of thumb to remember in home kitchen remedies is “the dosage is not as important as the regularity of treatment.”
Not just the flu can upset a stomach. Years ago researchers in England found that ginger, that wonderful flavoring in cookies and cakes, is a godsend for seasickness. Two capsules of powdered dry ginger being twice as effective as prescription pills. Like thyme ginger’s expectorant qualities also make it a wonderful remedy for congestion. I usually add a couple of freshly grated tablespoonsful to my homemade thyme cough syrup.
Home Medicine for Stress
Sickness (except for motion sickness) can generally be said to be caused by the wearing down of a body’s proper defenses. One of the quickest ways to do this is not to get enough rest. For those suffering from insomnia one of the best medicines of all is rosemary.
The calming effect of rosemary was long ago recognized by the Romans, who wove wreaths of it, to wear about their heads. A tea of this mollifying herb, taken an hour before going to bed, beats a glass of warm milk any day. It’s best not to take rosemary any sooner before sleeping as its mildly diuretic property might otherwise have one up in the middle of the night looking for the bathroom: which is rather anti-productive for sleep.
By calming the nerves, rosemary has also been used quite effectively in relieving stress-induced headaches: having been even prescribed for migraines. For relieving pains of a different sort, cloves are as delicious as they are helpful. Oil of cloves has long been employed in the treatment of toothaches, and that same numbing oil can help beat the aches and pains brought on by flu or from just plain overdoing it.
A teaspoonful in a cup of hot water will make one feel better off just smelling it. When drunk as a tea, the anesthetic oil works its way through the kidneys, liver, and bronchial membranes, stimulating, relieving pain and disinfecting as it goes. Cloves will even promote salivation, which in turn promotes a healthy appetite and aids in digestion.
The healing wonders of capsicum
If one herb were to be proclaimed as the king of all herbs, the scepter would undoubtedly be handed to capsicum.
Capsicum (cayenne and any “hot” member of the hot pepper family) is one of the finest of all healing herbs. A sprinkling of capsicum in any warm drink will warm up the body much faster than the warm drink by itself.
Capsicum is probably the best and safest heart tonic, able to increase the circulation of blood without speeding the heart. It accomplishes this by enlarging the caliber of vessels making it easier for the blood to flow through. This reaction makes it a fantastic stimulant, speeding up the body’s natural immune defenses and aiding recovery. When used in conjunction with other medicinal herbs, this stimulant property also helps other herbs to act faster, bringing relief that much quicker.
It’s a common misconception that capsicum “burns.” Although the mouth, lips, and tongue may tell you otherwise, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Capsicum is healing, never harmful, and can be eaten in large quantities.
It has even been prescribed for stomach ailments as serious as ulcers, it’s rubefacient quality draws blood to the stomach lining that needs healing, and its stimulant quality gets it there quicker. The “burning” sensation is actually just that, a “sensation,” and is caused by capsaicin, an enzyme that excites nerve endings. Furthermore, nothing beats capsicum for producing a really good sweat to sweat out impurities, foiling cold germs in the beginning stages, making it truly hot stuff as a medicine!
A last word
I like to think that survivalists will take these tidbits to heart, to make good health happen first in the home, to take responsibility for their own healing. This home medicine will come in handy when modern drugs or professional help will be nowhere in sight. It’s the knowledge that will one day save you from the miserable conditions created by some of the most common illnesses.