With modern medicine finally confirming the long-held healing power of honey, which has been found to be more effective than antibiotics or over-the-counter medications in treating coughs and colds, it is a great time to plunder your kitchen cupboards and rummage through your fridge.
From easing eczema with porridge oats to whitening your teeth with sage and treating sore eyes with fennel, here the Mail reveals the other — sometimes very surprising — natural medicines at home.
SAGE TO MAKE YOUR TEETH PEARLY WHITE
Renowned for its healing properties since the Middle Ages, when it was thought to help protect against the plague, this herb really does have antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
Not just this but research indicates that, whether you use it dried or fresh, it contains powerful natural compounds that could help protect against diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and using it in food may help to improve brain function and memory.
Meanwhile, just inhaling a bunch of fresh sage has been shown to help ease your levels of stress. It is also said to be very good at whitening teeth.
Simply pick a handful of fresh sage leaves, rinse with water, then crush them in your fingers. Apply the crushed leaves to your teeth and leave for two minutes, before rinsing with warm water. Alternatively, boil a few sage leaves and use the cooled ‘tea’ to rinse the crushed leaves from your teeth.
TURMERIC TO ALLEVIATE PAIN IN YOUR JOINTS
This bright yellow powder contains a powerful plant compound called curcumin, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties comparable to some anti-inflammatory drugs.
It is most effectively absorbed by the body when consumed with black pepper and some fat, so a curry recipe containing these ingredients would be ideal.
Because long-term, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic Western disease, studies suggest that as well as helping reduce joint pain, eating even small amounts of turmeric regularly may help prevent or slow down Alzheimer’s, possibly by helping prevent the brain plaques that lead to dementia.
CARDAMOM TO CONQUER ULCERS
Cardamom pods impart a sweet, pungent flavour to food and the spice is known to soothe an upset stomach — even help to ease ulcers. The seeds, oils and extracts of the spice are thought to have impressive medicinal properties and have been used in traditional medicine for centuries.
Now, modern laboratory studies have shown that cardamom can help fight inflammation, and suggest that it may protect against Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria linked to the development of most stomach ulcer issues.
It is also extremely high in vitamin K, and a good source of vitamin C, vitamin A, some folate (a B vitamin) and iron. If you’re feeling bloated, parsley can be helpful because it acts as a natural diuretic, stimulating the kidneys to help you shed excess fluids.
BEETROOT TO GIVE YOU A BIG BOOST
Beetroot juice has been shown to help lower blood pressure because the nitrates it contains are converted by the body to nitric oxide, which helps widen and relax the blood vessels, allowing the blood to flow more easily.
The powerful nitrates found in beetroot juice increase blood flow to all parts of the brain and could even help fight dementia.
FENNEL SEEDS FOR TREATING SORE EYES
These delicious aniseed-flavored seeds are great to nibble as an after dinner stomach soother, helping to relieve bloating, but fennel has also been traditionally used to soothe irritated, itchy eyes.
Pour boiling water over one teaspoon of fennel seeds or two fennel tea bags. Allow to cool and strain, then soak cotton wool pads with the fennel solution and apply to the eyes — using a separate pad for each eye to avoid cross-infection.
ROSEMARY TO AID CONCENTRATION
Extremely easy to grow, even in a window box, this delicious and hardy herb has been shown to boost concentration, memory and alertness when crushed in the hand and inhaled. Fresh rosemary contains the compound cineole, which could help boost brain activity.
The active ingredient in rosemary (Rosmarinus acid) can help suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion, and when brewed as a tea it has been shown to help treat upset stomach and nausea, too.
AWESOME OATS TO SEE OFF EXCEMA
Porridge oats aren’t just great for breakfast. They contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can help to treat dry skin and remove dead skin cells.
They also contain compounds called saponins, which are natural cleansers. They help gently remove the dirt and oil that can clog the pores, and also exfoliate the skin.
Tie a handful of porridge oats mixed with a few dried chamomile flowers (cut open a chamomile tea bag) in a muslin square and let it soak in a warm bath, squeezing the bag to release the milky liquid, then use the bag as a gentle exfoliator on your skin.