We’ve all got a medicine box at home stuffed with painkillers, cold powders, antihistamine tablets and antiseptic creams. But if you’re keen to harness the power of natural remedies, for every issue there are plenty of store cupboard staples that pack a jaw-droppingly powerful punch. Without side effects and sometimes for a fraction of the price. Whether it's a winter cold, bacterial infection, rash on your skin or upset stomach, nature has a side effect-free, speedy remedy for most things. These are my long term reliable favourites. They seem to clear up most problems much faster than the shop bought alternatives. (Except that is, for Anadin Extra, which is my go-to pharmaceutical cure-all!).
You can find all these inexpensive spices, foods and herbal medicines at your local supermarket or health store. They really work. Give yourself a boost and reboot your health naturally!
10 natural remedies that really work
This is my number one favourite of the natural remedies for colds and flu. Buy it in spray form. If you breathe 4 or 5 squirts in up your nose, it magics the problem away, especially if you can catch the cold just as you start to sniffle. The gel works well on skin problems and rashes.
Just ½ a teaspoon per day can cut cholesterol levels by as much as 18%. It has also been found to reduce heartburn symptoms and cut blood sugar levels by up to 24%. Sprinkle on porridge.
This spice has potent anti-bacterial powers, killing antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In one study, it was tested alongside rosemary oil and found to have even more anti-microbial potency. Clove is a great cure for toothache too. Try chewing a couple of cloves to release the oils, massaging it into the gums around the affected tooth.
Stock up on sage oil capsules. The herb’s natural oil has a host of benefits as this meta-analysis shows. It improves memory and boosts mood as well as reducing digestive discomfort and lowering blood sugar. Some doctors now recommend it to diabetic patients. It is also a useful way to combat menopausal hot flushes.
When you’re feeling nauseous, ginger can help. A 2016 peer review found it effective as an anti nausea drug treatment for pregnancy sickness and post-chemotherapy sickness. (In most of the studies, ginger oil capsules rather than fresh or powdered ginger were used). It works by boosting digestive juices and neutralizing acid, and acts as an anti-spasmodic, reducing intestinal contractions. Scientists are currently investigating ginger’s anti-migraine and anti-cancer properties too.
Adding ground coriander or better still crushed coriander seeds to hot water could help fight IBS symptoms, thanks to the antispasmodic properties of the spice. A US study reported in the journal Digestive Diseases and Sciences, found that IBS patients who took a coriander preparation for 8 weeks reported a 30% improvement in a range of symptoms compared with a placebo group.
Matcha tea contains three times the antioxidants of standard green tea. Try a cup first thing in the morning because this Japanese whole leaf tea (ground into a powder) is popular for the ‘calm and alert’ feeling it delivers. An excellent, health-boosting wake-up call for those foggy, groggy days.
Tea tree oil
A good natural antiseptic. The compounds in tea tree oil are proven to be anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Can be used to treat skin irritation and is particularly effective in the treatment of thrush and fungal nail infections.
Apple cider vinegar
Although some of the claims for apple cider vinegar seem largely unfounded, others, such as its ability to reduce blood sugar and blood lipids, have been proven. In research commissioned by the BBC last year, volunteers who consumed two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a high carb meal saw a 36% drop in their blood sugar levels over 90 minutes. And a reduction in their cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Hoorah for natural remedies!
Produced in New Zealand and famed for its medicinal powers. It has been proven to successfully treat eczema, relieve acid reflux and even ward off antibiotic-resistant bugs. Opt for manuka with a ‘UMF’ of 10+ or more and use it as a topical antibacterial on cuts and grazes and ulcers. And eat a teaspoonful a day to ward off flu germs. The scientific evidence for the bacteria-fighting power of manuka and some other honeys is increasingly powerful, as this wide-ranging paper from the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine finds.