8 Natural Remedies for Common Ailments Backed by Science

8 Natural Remedies for Common Ailments Backed by Science

8 Natural Remedies for Common Ailments Backed by Science 

Over the years, people have increasingly turned to natural remedies to alleviate common ailments. Natural remedies are treatments derived from nature and made with natural ingredients like plants, herbs, foods, and essential oils. Many natural remedies have been used for centuries in traditional medicinal practices. Now, scientific research is validating some of these traditional uses and showing natural remedies can effectively and safely treat various mild health issues. 

The purpose of this article is to explore eight natural remedies for common ailments that can be easily used at home. We will discuss each remedy, the ailment it targets, how it works to provide relief, and instructions for safe use. By learning about these natural options, you may find an easy way to remedy occasional coughs, headaches, digestive issues, and more without prescription medications. 

Remedy 1: Honey for Coughs 

Coughs are one of the most common winter ailments caused by colds and the flu. Dry coughs in particular can be annoying and disruptive to sleep. Honey has a long history of soothing coughs and research supports its effectiveness. Honey works because it is naturally very viscous or thick. When you swallow honey, it coats and soothes the throat, which helps loosen mucus and relieve cough-related throat irritation[1]

To use honey for a cough, simply take 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of honey at a time, up to 4 times per day. Honey is generally considered safe for children over 1 year old when given in small doses. For the most relief, stick with pure, unprocessed honey rather than flavored or blended varieties. You can also add honey to warm tea with lemon which is extra soothing for a cough and sore throat. Give honey a try next time a cough keeps you up at night - it works much better than cough drops. 

Remedy 2: Ginger for Nausea 

Feeling nauseous is never pleasant, whether due to an upset stomach, motion sickness, or morning sickness. Ginger has been scientifically shown to help reduce various types of nausea through its anti-inflammatory and anti-emetic (anti-nausea) properties[2]. Gingerols are active compounds in fresh ginger that work to calm nausea. 

To benefit from ginger, you can drink ginger tea - simply add a thinly sliced piece of fresh ginger root to hot water and steep for 10 minutes before drinking. Add a little honey if you like. For

motion sickness, try ginger ale or ginger candies or cookies. You can also take ginger capsules or chew on a piece of candied ginger. Start with small amounts and increase as needed to find the effective dose for your nausea. Ginger is generally safe for occasional use, though check with your doctor before using large amounts or if you have a medical condition. 

Remedy 3: Aloe Vera for Skin Irritations 

Aloe vera gel is renowned for its anti-inflammatory and healing properties. It can soothe and accelerate the healing of various skin irritations such as burns, cuts, abrasions, insect bites, sunburn, and rashes like poison ivy[3]. Aloe contains over 200 active compounds including polysaccharides, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that work to reduce pain and swelling while promoting cell growth. 

To use aloe vera, simply break off a lower leaf from an aloe vera plant and squeeze out the clear gel from inside the leaf. Apply the gel directly to the irritated skin. You can also purchase bottled aloe vera gel to keep on hand. Apply a thin layer a few times per day as needed. Aloe vera is generally very safe for topical use to treat minor skin issues. Its calming effects provide relief in a natural way. 

Remedy 4: Turmeric for Joint Pain 

A common cause of joint pain is inflammation resulting from arthritis, injury, or overuse. Turmeric is an amazing natural anti-inflammatory derived from the turmeric root. It contains the active compound curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows turmeric can effectively reduce knee pain from osteoarthritis and may help other inflammatory joint conditions as well. 

Numerous studies have linked curcumin as the active ingredient providing turmeric its impressive health benefits. In one trial, those with arthritis pain reported a greater reduction in symptoms after taking 500 milligrams of curcumin compared to 50 milligrams of the anti-inflammatory medication diclofenac sodium[4]

Additional research has validated turmeric's pain-relieving properties. One study found that a turmeric extract worked as well as ibuprofen for managing pain in individuals with osteoarthritis of the knee[5]. These findings signify curcumin's potential as an alternative treatment for inflammatory conditions commonly treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 

To help treat joint pain with turmeric, start with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder stirred into warm milk or mixed into food once or twice daily. Since turmeric is a spice, you can also use it liberally in curries and other dishes. For faster relief, try an overnight homemade paste of turmeric powder mixed with cooled black tea and applied topically to sore joints. Turmeric is generally safe when taken as a spice or supplement, though large doses may cause indigestion. Consult your doctor when using turmeric if you are on any medications.

Remedy 5: Peppermint Oil for Headaches 

Headaches can stem from various triggers including stress, eyestrain, food sensitivities, and muscle tension. Peppermint oil contains menthol which activates cold receptors in the skin that have a relieving effect on headache pain[6][7]. The scent of peppermint also has a calming aroma that alone may help ease headaches in some people. Furthermore, peppermint contains antioxidants which may play a role in reducing inflammation associated with headaches. 

To use peppermint oil for headaches, gently massage 1-2 drops neat (undiluted) on your temples and forehead, or add a drop to a warm compress or mist inhaler. You can also diffuse some peppermint essential oil in the air. Make sure to use true peppermint oil, not just peppermint extract or flavoring. Peppermint oil should not be applied near the eyes. Discontinue use if any irritation occurs. Peppermint oil can provide relief for occasional tension headaches when used carefully. 

Remedy 6: Slippery Elm for Digestive Issues 

Common digestive issues include acid reflux, heartburn, stomach upset, diarrhea, and constipation. Slippery elm is a herb made from the inner bark of the slippery elm tree. Its active compounds called mucilage form a slick protective coating over irritated digestive linings. This soothes pain and protects while also absorbing excess fluids in cases of diarrhea[8]. Slippery elm’s demulcent properties make it a traditional remedy for supporting digestive health. 

For relief, mix 1-2 tablespoons of slippery elm powder into cold or warm liquid and drink 1-2 times per day, or as needed for symptoms. The powder mixes easily into water, juices, or smoothies to provide relief. You can also find slippery elm in capsule or lozenge form. This gentle herb is very safe for digestive use. Next time your stomach is acting up, soothing slippery elm may provide natural relief. 

Remedy 7: Epsom Salt for Muscle Cramps 

Having a painful muscle cramp can put a sudden stop to any activity. Often cramping stems from low levels of magnesium - a mineral essential for muscle and nerve function. Epsom salt is a magnesium sulfate readily absorbed by the body that can relieve cramps and prevent their occurrence[9]. Soaking in an Epsom salt bath is an excellent way to absorb magnesium through the skin while relaxing tight muscles. 

To remedy cramps with Epsom salt, dissolve 1-2 cups of Epsom salt into a warm bath and soak for 20 minutes. The magnesium absorbed through the skin will help relax cramping muscles. Another option is targeting sore areas by soaking a washcloth in Epsom salt water and applying it as a compress. Soaking in Epsom salt either before or after working out, or whenever cramps frequently occur can help you stay active and cramp-free.

Remedy 8: Lavender Oil for Insomnia 

Not getting quality sleep on a regular basis negatively impacts health and well-being. Occasional sleeplessness can be cured naturally with lavender oil's relaxing qualities. Lavender promotes relaxation through active compounds that bind to receptors impacted by stress hormones[10]. Its floral scent alone has a soothing psychological effect. Research shows lavender essential oil reduces anxiety and improves sleep when used before bed. 

To remedy insomnia with lavender oil, place 1-2 drops on your pillow, add a few drops to a warm bath, or rub a diluted amount on your wrists and temples before bed. You can also place some drops in an essential oil diffuser near your bed at night. Be sure to use 100% pure lavender oil for safe and effective results. With regular use, lavender's relaxing properties can help you get to sleep and wake feeling more rested. 

Conclusion 

As you can see, there are many simple, natural remedies you can try for occasional coughs, nausea, skin irritation, joint pain, headaches, digestive issues, muscle cramps, and insomnia using pantry staples, herbs, and essential oils. While these natural options may not substitute professional medical care for serious or ongoing issues, they provide mild relief without side effects. Making honey for coughs, ginger for nausea, or turmeric paste for joint pain a regular part of your wellness routine allows you to remedy minor symptoms naturally at home. I encourage you to try incorporating some of these top eight remedies covered here into your self-care regimen for whenever common ailments strike. 

References: 

[1] Kumar, Suresh et al. “Honey infused with herbs: A boon to cure pathological diseases.” Heliyon vol. 10,1 e23302. 4 Dec. 2023, doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e23302 

[2] Bode, Ann M., and Zigang Dong. “The Amazing and Mighty Ginger.” Nih.gov, CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, 2024, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92775/

[3] “Aloe Vera.” NCCIH, NCCIH, 2019, www.nccih.nih.gov/health/aloe-vera

[4] Chandran, Binu, and Ajay Goel. “A Randomized, Pilot Study to Assess the Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis.” PTR. Phytotherapy Research/Phytotherapy Research, vol. 26, no. 11, Wiley, Mar. 2012, pp. 1719–25, https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.4639.

[5] Hewlings, Susan J, and Douglas S Kalman. “Curcumin: A Review of Its Effects on Human Health.” Foods (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 6,10 92. 22 Oct. 2017, doi:10.3390/foods6100092 

[6] Alam, M S et al. “Efficacy of Peppermint oil in diarrhea predominant IBS - a double blind randomized placebo - controlled study.” Mymensingh medical journal : MMJ vol. 22,1 (2013): 27-30. 

[7] “Peppermint Oil.” NCCIH, NCCIH, 2019, www.nccih.nih.gov/health/peppermint-oil

[8] “Slippery Elm.” Nih.gov, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 5 Jan. 2024, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK599741/

[9] Johnson, Brooke. “Muscle Cramps: How to Prevent and Soothe the Pain - Find a DO | Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine.” Find a DO | Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, 20 Feb. 2018, findado.osteopathic.org/muscle-cramps-prevent-soothe-pain. 

[10] Lillehei, Angela Smith et al. “Effect of Inhaled Lavender and Sleep Hygiene on Self-Reported Sleep Issues: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) vol. 21,7 (2015): 430-8. doi:10.1089/acm.2014.0327

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