Your kitchen cupboard today can replace your medicine cabinet of yesterday, believes Lillian M. Beard, M.D., a practicing pediatrician with Children’s Pediatricians and Associates in Silver Spring, Md. She’d know because her book, Salt in Your Sock and Other Tried-and-True Home Remedies, is an A-to-Z guide to the most common ailments and accompanying remedies that have been used for generations by thousands of families. “Over the many years of my practice, I would hear patient families tell me things they had tried before actually coming into the office,” recalls Beard, also an associate clinical professor of pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C. “I began to take notes and listen very carefully. I started doing research. Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) really is changing the face of today’s medicine. These are remedies that can relieve discomfort but aren’t intended to replace our physicians. They are stopgaps until you can get an expert medical opinion.” On the following pages are a few of Beard’s suggestions:
Here are 9 remedies to start with:
1 High blood pressure (apple cider vinegar): Have a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar in one eight-ounce glass of water in the morning. It won’t replace your medication, but it will keep your blood pressure down.
2 Pimple (fluoride toothpaste): Flouride battles the bacteria that promotes acne or a breakout. Cleanse your face with mild soap and water to get rid of any oil your skin has produced throughout the day. Pat it dry, and apply a dab of fluoride toothpaste in areas that concern you. Leave it on overnight. In the morning, rinse well with plain water, and pat dry. This will reduce any inflammation.
3 Repel biting/stinging insects (Bounce fabric softener): Tuck the sheets into your waistband or attach them to your belt loops. Something in the scent repels many flying, biting and stinging insects.
4 Food poisoning (ginger): Ginger or ginger tea will help settle a very spastic colon that’s trying to rid itself of something toxic. Chances are the “porcelain Cadillac” will be your best friend during this time, because whatever you’ve eaten your body is trying to cleanse itself of in liquid form, so you must ride it out. Ginger calms the muscles in your stomach, but it doesn’t stop the process. Whatever poison is in there you want to be gone.
5 Earache induced by infection (salt in your sock): Place a cup of salt in the microwave for one minute. Place one thick sock inside another one, then dump the salt in there before knotting it. The sock serves as a protective insulator to hold the heat. Test against your inner arm to make certain it doesn’t burn your skin. Position yourself on the side with the pain and place the sock against the ear that’s painful. This remedy works because what causes the pain is increased fluid in the middle of the ear cavity. The pressure causes the excruciating pain. When you have salt next to the eardrum, any fluid is going to be drawn or attracted to the salt. The pressure in the middle ear immediately goes down, so this relieves the discomfort. The heat itself speeds the circulation in that part of the body because the heat is soothing and will draw fluid out. This doesn’t cure the infection, but it does relieve the discomfort.
6 Sty on eye (warm compress or potato): A sty is an inflamed site from which an eyelash grows. Wet a clean washcloth with warm water and apply it to the affected eye several times a day or every time you think about it. The warmth helps open that follicle, and anything that’s in it can drain, which will reduce the swelling and itching. Or you can scrape out the inside of a white potato and place the raw shavings into a clean handkerchief. Place the cloth on the eye several times a day. This works because potatoes are rich in vitamin C, which reduces infection and inflammation.
7 Cold or canker sore (Earl Grey tea): The bergamot in Earl Grey tea, when a dampened tea bag of it is placed on a cold (canker) sore, helps draw out the toxins and shrink the sore.
8 Facial treatment (sugar and oatmeal): For a smooth face, just wash with regular sugar. The sugar acts as an exfoliant and removes dead skin while destroying bacteria and promoting healing because it is antibacterial. Rinse well with plain water, and pat dry. Never scrub your face with a cloth. Follow this exfoliating treatment with a paste made of oatmeal and warm water. Put it on your face, then let it dry for at least five minutes. Rinse off with cool water, and pat dry. The oatmeal is soothing to your skin after the sugar exfoliation. And the cool water will help reduce the size of your facial pores.
9 Mosquito bite (meat tenderizer): Meat tenderizer contains an enzyme called papain that breaks down the meat’s protein fibers. When the mosquito bites, it injects a tiny bit of protein contained in its saliva under your skin. The papain neutralizes the protein. The saliva is foreign to your system, which causes swelling and itching in the bite area to occur because your body is rejecting it. Use meat tenderizer with a tiny bit of water to make a paste. Apply immediately on the bite area. This will dissolve the protein injected into your system by the insect.
Margena A. Christian, Ed. D. is a Senior Editor at EBONY Magazine.