Herbal Remedies for 4 Common Ailments

Wednesday Apr 2 | BY |
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Herbal Remedies

This little guy knows what to do for a nasty cough.

I recently swapped out my antihistamines for butterbur, and have been amazed at how much better I feel. It took awhile to land on this natural treatment for allergies and headaches, but I decided to try it after seeing all the studies showing results.

Of course, as many of you know, there are a number of natural herbs that can treat many of our common ailments in life—it’s just a matter of finding the ones that work for us.

To help you in that quest, here are some herbal treatments for four common ailments. If you decide to try one, let us know how it works for you!

1. Cough
Whether you’re suffering from the common cold, bronchitis, or allergies, you can find herbal solutions to calm a persistent cough and help you relax and rest.

  • Eucalyptus: The University of Maryland notes that studies in animals and test tubes have found that eucalyptus oil acts an expectorant, helping coughs by loosening phlegm. It’s recommend by herbalists to treat sore throats, cough, and bronchitis. Add 5-10 drops to two cups boiling water and breathe in the steam, or mix 15-30 drops with ½ cup carrier oil and rub on the chest and throat.
  • Garlic/honey gargle: Both of these have been linked in studies to calming coughs. Garlic is a known immune booster, while honey calms and reduces inflammation. A 2007 study found that honey was even more effective than over-the-counter cough medicines in children. Mix a clove of minced garlic with a half-cup raw honey, then take one teaspoon every hour as needed. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice for flavor and an extra anti-inflammatory boost.

2. Diarrhea
Though usually only a passing bit of unpleasantness for Americans, diarrhea is a serious affliction in many countries, killing over 2,000 children every day. In addition, according to the Mayo Clinic, up to 20 percent of people receiving antibiotics get diarrhea in the U.S. Here are some alternatives to the pink stuff.

  • Blackberry: This is a popular remedy for diarrhea, known to be an “astringent” that helps dry up the intestinal membranes. Steep blackberry leaves to make a strong cup of tea, and drink a half-cup every hour until you notice results. Blackberry root bark is also helpful—boil the bark in water for 20 minutes, strain, and drink a cup every two-to-four hours.
  • Bilberry: Bilberry has been used to treat diarrhea in Europe for nearly one thousand years. It has both astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Take 80-120 mg twice a day (standardized with 25% anthocyanidin), or use 5-10 grams of crushed bilberries in 2/3 cup of cold water. Boil for ten minutes, strain, and drink. Don’t use for more than four days.

3. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse notes that these types of infections are the second most common type of infection in the body, “accounting for about 8.1 million visits to health care providers each year.” Though usually treated with antibiotics, there are some herbal alternatives. Just be sure that if you’re not seeing results within a few days, you check with your doctor, as you don’t want these infections to spread.

  • D-mannose: A simple sugar found in cranberries, blueberries, and apples, D-mannose grabs the offending e.coli in the urinary tract and flushes it out. A very recent study published in February 2014 tested 98 patients with recurrent UTIs. Researchers split the participants into three groups, giving the first a D-mannose supplement, the second an antibiotic, and the third no treatment. Results showed that the D-mannose powder performed similarly to the antibiotic in preventing UTIs. Take a daily dose of one teaspoon for daily prevention, or increase to one every few hours for treatment.
  • Cranberries: A 2009 study supported the potential use of cranberry for the prevention of recurrent UTIs, noting that it helps inhibit E. coli from “sticking” to the urinary tract, making it difficult for it to take hold and cause an infection. They noted, however, that quality products are necessary to be sure you get the best results. Other studies have found benefits from drinking 1.7 ounces of cranberry juice every day, or taking one tablet of concentrated cranberry a day. Since juices often contain other products, and are high in sugar, supplements are recommended. Take about 250-400 mg a day.

4. Muscle Pain
Who hasn’t suffered from this one? It’s so common that we often just decide to “live with it,” particularly if we don’t want to overdo the over-the-counter pain relievers. You can get relief with natural options, though.

  • Capsicum: Also known as capsaicin, cayenne, and chili pepper, capsicum is a group of annual plants in the nightshade family. It’s been studied in oral and topical forms, and has been found to be helpful in managing pain. The American Cancer Society recommends it for pain related to surgery and mouth sores due to chemotherapy and radiation. Capsaicin creams are often used for relieving the pain of arthritis and general muscle soreness. The FDA approved a topical form for this purpose more than 20 years ago. Apply creams about three-to-four times daily.
  • Wintergreen: The leaf of this plant contains methyl salicylate—the same component in aspirin. Long considered the best essential oil for pain, it also contains anti-inflammatory properties. Mix 33 drops in 250 milliliters of witch hazel (or to a carrier oil like arnica) and apply to affected muscles and joints as needed. Keep in the refrigerator.

Do you have other suggestions for these ailments? Please share your tips with our readers.

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Kranjcec B, et al., “D-mannose powder for prophylaxis of current urinary tract infections in women: a randomized clinical trial,” World J Urol 2014 Feb; 32(1):79-84, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23633128.

Guay DR, “Cranberry and urinary tract infections,” Drugs 2009; 69(7):775-807, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19441868.

“Cranberry Products for Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection,” American Family Physician, 2008 Aug 1; 78(3):332-333, http://www.aafp.org/afp/2008/0801/p332.html.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

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