I have always been enchanted by the idea of being the architect of my own healing. I can remember pouring over the pages of my mother’s copy of Healthy Healing: An Alternative Healing Reference when I was a child and being absolutely fascinated by all of the natural remedies and treatments that could be used to alleviate and cure some of the most common ailments.
It wouldn’t be until years later towards the end of my college years when I would stumble my way into the world of homeopathy after years of struggling with anxiety and depression that didn’t seem to be responding to Western medicine.
With the passing of each year, I become only more intrigued with holistic approaches to health and wellbeing and more convinced that the vast majority of our health issues can be treated and healed with natural products that are gentler on our bodies than most of the synthetic pharmaceuticals that are so prevalent in today’s culture.
My study of alternative healing has been informal and mostly informed by the health issues that have come up in my own life, but over the years, I have slowly gathered a collection of powerfully healing natural remedies and here are a few of my favorites.
To me, ginger root is one of the most perfect plants ever! It is great for combatting nausea and upset digestive systems, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and may even help prevent cancer. Plus, it has an ultra-refreshing flavor and scent! Steep it in hot water to make a tea, add it to your favorite foods, or even eat it straight! I actually use slices of fresh ginger as a soothing lozenge when I have a sore throat. I’ll simply slice away the beige-y outer skin and cut the root into medallions that I’ll hold in my mouth or chew. It’s definitely a bit spicy, but it has a cool, vaporous heat that basically feels like icy-hot for your throat.
Salt is one of the least expensive and most versatile healing products out there! When I was growing up, my father was an Emergency Room doctor and my mother was a nurse, and whenever I started to get a cold or a sore throat, they would immediately make me start gargling warm salt water multiple times a day. This is because salt has powerful anti-bacterial properties as well as anti-inflammatory properties that make it excellent for keeping infection at bay and soothing inflamed skin. A regular regimen of gargling salt water, plus my Ginger Zinger Green Smoothie are still my go-to remedies when I feel a cold or sore throat coming on, but that’s not the only healing use of salt. A salt water solution can be used to clean and promote healing of wounds, sea salt scrubs can help promote skin health and stimulate the lymphatic system for better immune function, and a soak in a salt water bath can work wonders on sore muscles.
I first discovered Calendula about 8 years ago after getting a very severe hot-water burn on one of my hands. I had terrible blisters and my doctors were even concerned that my scarring would be so bad that I might lose mobility in some of my fingers. After I received my initial treatment at a hospital, I contacted my homeopathic practitioner to see what she could do to help my healing process. She gave me a Calendula cream and within days of using it, I saw incredible results. It was very soothing and dramatically reduced the redness and tenderness of the burn. My hand healed with absolutely no scarring and I truly believe the Calendula played a big role in how nicely I healed. Calendula oil is derived from the tops of marigold flowers and has been a favorite remedy among healers for centuries. It is very effective for treating a host of skin issues from rashes and eczema to minor cuts and burns and is also a wonderful way to quench parched, dry, or chapped skin. I really love Boiron's Calendula formulations and keep it in my house in three different formats: cream for rashes and dry skin, ointment for cuts, and gel for the occasional break out.
Bach Flower Remedies
While my anxiety is much more manageable these days thanks to a healthy, balanced lifestyle with regular exercise, a clean diet, and proper sleep hygiene, I still have those days here and there where my stress response seem to be a bit overactive. I love the way these Bach Flower Remedies smooth out the sharper edges of my nerves without making me feel foggy or sedated at all. Sometimes I will just take one and other times I will mix two or all three of them depending on what is coming up for me.
A couple of years ago, I started experiencing really intense fatigue pretty much daily. While I had a busy schedule, the exhaustion I was feeling seemed disproportionate to my lifestyle considering the fact that I was getting plenty of sleep and eating well. I consulted an alternative health practitioner, who believed I was experiencing symptoms of adrenal fatigue. I had only heard of adrenal fatigue in passing before, but after some research, I learned that it has become an increasingly prevalent issue as we have moved into a culture that promotes constant sensory stimulation. The adrenal glands are located right above the kidneys and produce a wide variety of hormones that regulate blood pressure, blood sugar, and response to stressors such as illness or trauma. If the adrenals are strained from prolonger exposure to stress or chronic illness, they may begin to function less effectively and the most common result is fatigue that is not improved with sleep. For anyone who is experiencing adrenal fatigue, it is incredibly important to dial back on any unnecessary stressors and to amp up self-care. I also found that Vitanica’s Adrenal Assist supplement, made up of vitamins, nutrients, and a variety of root and herb extracts that support healthy adrenal function, helped get my energy levels back to normal.
I learned about the practically magical healing properties of the reishi mushroom while I was working with Sophie Jaffe of The Philosophie. Sophie includes reishi in her Cacao Magic Superfood + Protein Blend and since it was new to me, I did some reading about how reishi promotes health. After exploring the research that has been published on reishi, the real question is, “How doesn’t reishi promote health?!” Seriously, this mushroom might be the king of all superfoods and has been shown to promote liver regeneration, impart neuroprotective properties, fight cancer, and even promote a longer lifespan! After learning about all of the wonderful health benefits of the reishi mushroom, how could I not include it as part of my daily preventative care routine?
Between building strong bones and teeth to playing a vital role in muscle contraction and healthy nerve function, calcium is one of the most important nutrients that your body needs, but what led me to add calcium to my medicine cabinet was difficulty sleeping. I have struggled with varying degrees of insomnia for much of my life and am always looking for ways to promote my ability to fall asleep faster and more deeply. When I was told that Calcium Citrate could help, I was skeptical, at first, but then I read up about it and found that calcium is vital to the brain’s ability to produce sleep-inducing melatonin! Now, when I go through periods of difficulty sleeping, I just take a Calcium Citrate tablet about an hour before bedtime and find that I fall asleep much more easily.
Besides making a delicious addition to culinary creations, garlic has a wide range of health benefits. It has been linked to decreased incidences of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and some forms of cancer. Garlic has also been touted as an incredible immunity booster and has been shown to be highly effective for the prevention of viral, bacterial, and fungal infections, which is why I add fresh garlic to my diet regularly and take garlic supplements during cold season.
You may not think you’re familiar with turmeric but if you’ve ever had curry or yellow mustard, then you’ve probably already eaten it. Turmeric has received a lot of attention from researchers and wellness professionals in recent years because it appears to be one of the most powerfully healing foods on the planet. It has potent anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce pain and decrease symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Turmeric has also been linked to cancer-prevention, healthy liver function, cardiovascular health, healthy cholesterol levels, and reduced risk of neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies even suggest that turmeric may be alleviate depression! Since black pepper has been shown to increases the body’s ability to absorb and use the active components in turmeric, I make sure to take a supplement that contains both every day.