It’s a good feeling stocking your bathroom medicine cabinet up for everything you need for an everyday medical need – for insect bites, dandruff, indigestion or anything else. They do have lots of specialized over-the-counter stuff for every one of these things, and you could be tempted to buy them up. We all stock up this way to be ready for anything; in fact, we usually take it personally if there is a problem that we don’t have the right remedy for. The problem is though, that you never seem to need these things when they are close at hand. Sometimes, it’s when you’re out on a trip with the family or when you are at a friend’s house and a kid gets hurt that you really wish you had the exact right materials with you. That’s where it becomes useful to earn a few improvisational skills – using alternative remedies when you need to. What follows is a list of new uses for stuff we all have around the house or in our bags – to help you improvise, when the need strikes.
Tee Tree Oil
Everyone loves tea tree oil these days – we use it for athlete’s foot, for acne, for anything that needs a little antifungal or antibacterial action. What people often don’t know though is that tea tree oil is a great remedy against dandruff. So the next time you’re with a friend on a trip and they seem to have forgotten their anti-dandruff shampoo, throw them your bottle of tea tree oil; a teaspoonful added to regular shampoo should turn it antidandruff. And on that same trip, if one of you seems to have a little foot odor problem from maybe sitting in the car with their shoes on for too long on a warm day, how about having them rub their feet down with a cloth soaked in vodka. It happens to contain some pretty strong alcohol, and it will easily kill all the odor causing bacteria, fungus and other nasties (that should be some trip – smelly feet and vodka).
Headache and Pencil Technique
So you’re on a day out with your friends shopping, and one of you is really bothered with a headache. It can happen – too much walking, too much stress. Stress actually makes us reflexively tighten our jaw and this can starts off a tension headache. Fish out a pencil and ask your friend to hold it between their teeth without actually biting. It helps your muscles unclench and occupy themselves with something else. And the headache disappears.
Blisters and Listerine
People get blisters – women on their toes especially, when they pick shoes that are more pretty than they are comfortable. If that happens to you when you’re out of the right cream for that, are there any alternative remedies in your bag? You do, if you have a little Listerine somewhere. Put a few drops of Listerine on the sore part couple of times a day, and you should be set. For aching feet, a frozen bottle of water can work wonders. Just put it on the ground and roll it with your foot.
Hiccups and Sugar
Hiccups are common enough. But other than scaring a stuttering friend, what else do you have up your sleeve? Sugar, of course (no, not literally up your sleeve). Sugar helps the nervous system ease a misfiring nerve and calm a hiccup down right away. Now these should help you be the go-to person in your circle in a health emergency, shouldn’t it?
How Herbal Alternative Medicine
For centuries, herbal treatments were the primary medicines people, in a diversity of cultures around the world, relied upon to both cure and mitigate the common diseases and ailments. Even though people in the 1600s were unaware of the germ theory, through trial and error, they discovered that certain herbal treatments proved effective against infection.
In feudal times, it was the custom and responsibility of the ‘lady of the manor’ to be somewhat of an expert on herbs and their uses, maintaining an herb garden to dispense appropriate healing herbs to the people of the village, to remedy their ailments.
Spider Webs and Comfrey
Here are a few examples of historically popular and effective herbal remedies. Did you know that spider webs were used to protect against infection and help heal skin wounds, even into the mid-1900s? This herbal treatment is still useful, if you find yourself stranded in the back woods without a modern first aid kit. Comfrey, a common weed, is also known as ‘bone knit’. Before modern medicine, comfrey leaves were applied to the site of a broken bone, in the form of a plaster and bound up around the site of breakage. The broken bone would subsequently be mended back together, by generating new bone cells, due to a peculiar property of this herb. Cayenne pepper, taken internally, stops internal hemorrhaging and has saved many a life. Each of these herbal treatments are well documented by modern science, both in clinical studies and anecdotal reports.
During the 19th century, the so-called eclectic physicians relied almost entirely on herbal remedies, many times comprised of a mixture of herbs, to treat their patients. One of the most famous of these remedies was the result of a Canadian nurse’s investigation into Native American remedies, which came to be known as Essiac. This formula reportedly cured thousands of cases of various types of cancer and is still sold today in herb shops. Members of the Kennedy family used this formula with success, which probably contributed to the widespread popularity it still enjoys. At the same time, some unscrupulous healers jumped on the bandwagon, selling elixirs which were ineffective, but nonetheless popular. However, these charlatans soon popularized the term ‘snake oil sellers’, seriously damaging the credibility of legitimate physicians in general, along with herbal treatments.
Herbs and Modern Drugs
When modern medicine was in its infancy, pharmaceutical companies began producing their ‘magic bullets’ for a variety of diseases and common ailments. Interestingly, herbs formed the main constituents of these drugs, with one significant difference. These chemists would extract only the constituents of each plant which was deemed to be the curative property. If you study herbal medicine, you’ll find that all of the constituents in the plant parts, be it the leaves, berries or roots, have a synergistic relationship, whereby one constituent may be the driving force of the cure, but used alone, may be accompanied by undesirable side effects. The properties which were not included in the pharmaceutical version, most often offset and mitigated the undesirable effects, thus making the pharmaceutical an inferior herbal treatment option.
Try Herbal Medicine
It’s unfortunate that the ‘snake oil’ vendors compromised the opinion of the general population against the ‘old ways’ and so, popularizing the modern drugs, with the result that herbal treatments became passe. Today, with the many deleterious side effects of modern drug therapy, fully a third of Americans report using herbal treatments as an effective alternative form of medicine. If you doubt the veracity of herbal medicine, it may be worth your while to try a few of these ancient remedies on minor injuries as a test case. For example, should you become sunburn from a day at the beach, try applying aloe gel to the affected area. It certainly works, serving to both heal the skin, prevent blistering and take the sting out of the burn. You may find that herbal treatments are as effective as the OTC remedies, at far less expense, making a valuable addition to your first aid kit.