Body & Fitness

Nature’s home remedies

Enjoy the health benefits of food and herbs

Got a niggling health problem that won’t go away? The cure for your ailment could be growing in your garden.

Here are some traditional natural remedies based on foods you can grow yourself or find in your supermarket or health-food store.

Don’t forget, though, that if your health problem is affecting your ability to get on with everyday life, or if it gets worse, you should talk to a pharmacist or see your doctor. You should also avoid these remedies if you’re pregnant.

Cabbages A cabbage leaf can work wonders on bruising. Steep the leaf in hot water to soften it, then wrap it around the affected area. Cabbages contain a naturally occuring anti-inflammatory agent. oany breastfeeding mums also swear by cabbage leaves to help ease sore breasts and even treat mastitis. Make sure you keep the leaves away from the nipple.

Meanwhile, juicing cabbages will leave you with a liquid that can be used to settle stomach ulcers. It’s thought that this is due to an amino acid in cabbage called glutamine, which nourishes the cells in your gastrointestinal tract.

Blackberries Blackberries and blackberry leaves are rich in tannins, which can help reduce inflammation of the intestine and stop toxins being absorbed by the gut. To help upset tummies associated with diarrhoea, make a tea by boiling two tbspn of fresh blackberries in 250ml of water. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, then strain. Drink a cup of this several times a day.

Blackberry leaves have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial action and have been used to ease sore gums and mouth ulcers. Put 10g of dried leaves into 100ml of water. Bring to the boil and infuse for 15 minutes, then strain and cool to use as a mouthwash.

Cherries Eating two handfuls of cherries was once a popular way of trying to combat an attack of gout. Gout pain – which can be excruciating – is caused by tiny crystals of uric acid that turn up in the blood and cluster around the joints. Cherries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins that reduce swelling in the body. This helps relieve the symptoms of gout and other conditions such as arthritis.

Thyme Thyme contains an antiseptic compound called thymol, which can help protect against infection. It can help to get rid of nasty boils. Steep a handful of thyme in a bowl of hot water, then soak a flannel in the water. Use the flannel as a hot compress on the boil. Thymol is also believed to help ease coughs.

Make a thyme tea using two teaspoons of dried thyme in a cup of boiling water and steep for 10 minutes. Large doses of thyme can cause intestinal problems so stop drinking this tea if you experience any diarrhoea or bloating.

To help clear up a congested chest, put a handful of thyme leaves in a bowl of boiling water, cover your head and the bowl with a towel and breathe in the steam.

Parsley Chewing on a sprig of parsley is an age-old way of getting rid of halitosis, or bad breath. Parsley is rich in chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants, which not only deodorises bad breath but helps to fight the germs that cause the smell.

Aloe vera Juice from the leaves of this succulent plant is well-known for its antibacterial and antifungal effects and can ease pain and reduce inflammation. It brings relief to insect bites, acne, sunburn, burns, scrapes, cuts and rashes. Simply cut open one of the blade-like leaves and rub the sap on the affected area.

Fennel A tea made with a few fresh sprigs of fennel can help relieve indigestion.This herb has also been used throughout history to break up kidney stones, prevent nausea and get rid of hiccups.


**Rosemary helps to relax muscles, including the muscles of the digestive tract and the uterus, which means it can help soothe an upset stomach or relieve period cramps. Steep one teaspoon of crushed dried leaves in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Don’t overdo it – too much can have the opposite effect, causing stomach irritation and cramps. Rosemary tea can also be a tonic to calm nerves.

Did you know…? A study at a US university found that the smell of rosemary can help to stimulate the memory. oany modern drugs are based on traditional natural remedies. Aspirin, for example, is based on willow bark, which has been used for centuries to treat fever, pain and inflammation.

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