Natural remedies

There’s nothing better than nature’s way to fix basic ills, chills, aches and pains. Pamela Allardice, natural therapy expert for The Australian Women’s Weekly, explores ways we can help alleviate symptoms for some common ailments and shares many of her favourite cures.

If you have a health condition such high blood pressure, are taking prescription medication or are in any way unsure whether you should follow the self-help advice provided, consult a natural therapist or your doctor.

Bathe bruises in chilled hazel or arnica tincture to help contract the damaged blood vessels, making the bruise disappear more quickly than usual. Take bromelain tablets to relieve fluid build-up and residual swelling. Bromelain is an enzyme that has anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.

Buy an aloe vera plant for the windowsill and, if you burn yourself, simply split open a leaf and apply its natural gel to promote healing.

Make a decongestant by adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and sipping frequently.

Chicken pox
Try an oatmeal bath. In a blender, grind dry rolled oats into a very fine powder. Add two cups to a bath of lukewarm water. Simply pat skin dry. Circulation (poor) Pep up poor circulation by taking a mustard footbath. Simply add one tablespoon of dried mustard to a bowl of hot water and soak your feet.

Cold sores If the sore is drying out, dab on a few drops of oil of St John’s Wort. If it’s weeping, brew some lemon balm tea, strain, and apply with a cotton bud.

Colds and flu Taking Echinacea at the first sign of a sniffle often bolsters the system sufficiently to help the body fight the virus. I also recommend tincture or tablets of astragalus, a powerful Chinese herb known to improve immune function. Plus, try my potent ginger-garlic tea to fight off colds and flu. Simmer one teaspoon of grated ginger in one cup of water in a covered pot for five minutes. Strain; add one clove crushed garlic, one tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and one-quarter teaspoon cayenne powder. Sweeten with honey if desired.

Peppermint tea provides relief by promoting digestion and helping to expel wind. To make, pour one cup of boiling water over two teaspoons of dried peppermint leaves. Cover and let sit for 15 minutes, then strain. Give the baby half a teaspoonful as often as needed.

My Nanna’s syrup of figs is still the best remedy. Combine half a cup each of chopped dried figs, raisins and pearl barley, and a quarter of a cup of chopped liquorice root (from health food stores) in a saucepan with one litre of water. Bring to boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes; strain. Keep syrup refrigerated in a tightly capped bottle. Take one tablespoon as needed.

Cut up one onion and three cloves of garlic. Place in a bowl and cover with honey, then leave for three hours. Strain. Sip a teaspoonful of the resulting syrup throughout the day.

Placing a block of camphor under the mattress sometimes helps prevent night cramps. Make a massage oil by combining six drops each of clove and rosemary oil with 30ml plain vegetable oil, shake well, and use to massage the length of the muscle when a cramp starts.

The next time you need an antibacterial ointment for a cut or wound, apply unprocessed (unheated and unaltered) honey. It contains a natural antibiotic that has proved effective against organisms that cause infections.

Add one bunch of parsley to 500ml of water. Bring water to the boil in a covered pan, turn off heat, and cool. Parsley is a natural diuretic and helps to flush out the micro-organisms that cause the infection. After every visit to the toilet, soak a clear cottonwool pad in water to which you’ve added a few drops of lavender oil and hold it against your vagina. This will temporarily relieve the burning sensation.

Combine one tablespoon each of dried nettles and dried rosemary with two cups of apple cider vinegar. Bring to the boil, remove from heat, cover, and let it sit overnight. Strain. After shampooing and rinsing your hair with plain water, pour the herbal rinse carefully through and leave in.

Peel and grate an apple into a bowl. Wait until it goes brown – approximately 15 minutes – then eat it.

Dry skin
An oatmeal skin wash is good for dry skin. Add one tablespoon of finely ground oatmeal to