Baking Soda

Aside from baking soda’s fame as a household cleaner and a leavening agent, it has a long history of healing.

Also known as sodium bicarbonate, it is among the fastest acting antacids. when you down a teaspoon of baking soda, with a few drops of lemon juice, in a glass of water, the fizzy drink neutralizes stomach acid by converting it to harmless sodium chloride and carbon dioxide. Grandma swore by this for heartburn or indigestion and it’s safe to use for all ages.

If you make a paste with baking soda and a little water, it stops itching from insect bites and stings. Added to a warm bath, baking soda “softens” the water and makes a soothing soak for itchy or sunburned skin. Baking soda polishes teeth without damaging the enamel. It can even be used as a gargle to destroy odor causing bacteria in the mouth. Just combine 1 tbs with 1 cup hydrogen peroxide and gargle, then spit.

Baking soda is also useful for treating anal itching, (use in a sitz bath), body odor (sprinkle on your underarms) canker sores (add a teaspoon to a small glass of water and swish around your mouth), chicken pox (add to a cool bath to soothe itching), and foot odor (use in a footbath).


The mere thought of drinking a cup of chamomile tea at night is almost enough to soothe frazzled nerves and summon sleep. Scientists have identified over a dozen active chemical compounds within the herbs daisy like flowers that offer a range of health benefits.

A chemical in chamomile called apigenin calms the central nervous system, paving the way to relaxation and sleep. What’s more, a cup of chamomile tea relaxes the smooth muscles that line the digestive tract and uterus, easing after meal stomach discomfort and menstrual cramps.

You can even brew up a strong pot of the tea, soak a cloth in the liquid, and apply it to irritated skin to soothe eczema and rashes. (Avoid chamomile if you have an allergy to ragweed.) The cooled tea can also be used as a mouthwash to soothe inflamed gums and speed the healing of mouth sores.


The history of this pungent herb hints at its wide ranging potential. Egyptian pyramid builders used it to boost their strength and prevent dysentery, Europeans used it for protection from the plague, and physicians in both world wars used it to disinfect wounds.

In the last few decades, research has caught up with folklore. Garlic has been the subject of more than 1200 pharmacological studies. Most of them have focused on the role of the “stinking rose” in cardiovascular disease and cancer (especially stomach cancer), along with its antibacterial powers.

Scientists think that a sulfur compound called alliim is responsible for many of garlic's antibacterial properties as well as many of its heart benefits. In countries where people consume liberal amounts of garlic, there seem to be unusually low rates of heart disease. One study found that garlic helps prevent blood platelets from clumping together and forming clots. Garlic also appears to inhibit the livers production of cholesterol. Reviews of dozens of scientific studies suggest that eating garlic daily can lower cholesterol 9-12 percent.

Because garlic kills germs, its useful against everything from athlete’s foot to wounds and warts to colds and flu. Because its essential oil is excreted through the lungs, its particularly helpful when you have a respiratory ailment such as bronchitis or a hacking cough. Raw garlic packs the most healing punch.


This pungent, gnarled root is among the longest cherished of all kitchen cures, used medicinally and as a seasoning for at least 5000 years. Whether you have chills and a cold or an upset stomach, ginger can help. You can take it in tea or candy form, and of course, you can also add it to your food.

Ginger is among the most potent remedies for motion sickness as well as garden variety stomach upset. In fact, some studies have shown that it works as well as Dramamine and other nausea stopping drugs. Doctors sometimes recommend ginger to prevent nausea because it doesn’t cause grogginess the way these drugs can. Ginger is better at preventing nausea than stopping it, so take it before you get in a car or climb on a sailboat. Pregnant moms have found relief sipping some hot ginger tea before they venture from bed to help with the morning sickness too.

The potential healing uses for ginger extend beyond the stomach. Taking fresh or powdered ginger at the first sign of migraine may reduce symptoms by blocking prostaglandins, chemicals that cause inflammation in blood vessels in the brain. These prostaglandins also contribute to joint swelling in people with arthritis, making ginger useful for them too.


Honey is the unique creation of swarms of bees that cover a six mile radius in nectar collection. Anything that takes so much work to make has to be good! It’s thick, syrupy texture makes it a natural for easing sore throat pain, especially when it’s added to hot lemonade or a soothing tea such as chamomile. I prefer some hot lemon water with a generous helping of honey for sore throats. Singers the world over sing the praises of lemon and honey water to soothe and ease a throat for singing.

But honey does much more. It kills bacteria and helps cuts and wounds heal faster. Honey contains hydrogen peroxide and propolis, an antibacterial compound in nectar. Even today, when triple antibiotic creams occupy every medicine chest, some doctors believe that honey might be a superior wound dressing in some cases. It works so well that a number of manufacturers sell honey impregnated dressings for hard to heal wounds. Dab honey on cuts and scrapes, then cover with a bandage or simply let it dry to form a natural bandage.

Thanks to its high concentration of fructose, honey is also a natural laxative. And it may reduce ulcer symptoms and speed the healing time. Honey appears to reduce inflammation, stimulate blood flow, and enhance the growth of epithelial cells, the ones exposed along the interior of the stomach or intestine. Studies have also shown that honey kills H. pylori, the bacterium responsible for most ulcers. A type of honey called active Manuka honey, preduced in New Zealand and available in health food stores, appears to be more effective than other types.

Allergy sufferers need to find a local honey producer. A tablespoon of local honey every day will over time eliminate most or all of your allergy symptoms by exposing you in limited doses to the very things that make you sneeze and itch. This builds up in your body until you become immune.

A note of Caution!!! Never give honey to children under the age of one, since it may contain a small number of spores called Clostridium botulinum, the organism that causes botulism.


When life hands you lemons, be thankful! Lemons are extraordinarily rich in healing chemical compounds that improve immunity, strengthen blood vessels, help skin heal, and block cell changes that can lead to cancer. a quick rub of lemon on the underarms helps combat unwanted odors. A squeeze of lemon added to hot water and honey is the perfect sore throat elixir. And lemon is an indispensable ingredient when it comes to making homemade cough syrup.

Centuries ago British sailors ate lemons by the boatload to prevent scurvy, a deadly disease caused by vitamin C deficiency. A single lemon packs 30 milligrams of vitamin C, more than half the daily value. We don’t have to worry about scurvy anymore because there are so many sources of vitamin C in our diet. But lemons provide a host of other tangy benefits.

The vitamin C in lemons helps lower levels of histamine, the chemical that contributes to stuffy noses and runny eyes. A potent antioxidant, vitamin C also helps guard against heart disease. The colorful zest of lemons is rich in a bioflavonoid (a group of antioxidant plant chemicals) called rutin, which strengthens the walls of the veins and capillaries and reduces the pain, and even the occurrence, of varicose veins.

Lemons are loaded with citric acid, a chemical that reduces calcium excretion and helps prevent the formation of kidney stones. Two quarts of lemonade made with fresh lemon juice daily (sweetened with as little sugar as possible) are as effective as citrate medications. If applied often to age spots, lemon juice will eventually fade these marks of maturity.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fat that's good for you? Yes! Found mainly in cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, omega 3 fatty acids play a key role in many body processes, from controlling blood clotting and blood pressure to reducing inflammation. Study after study has shown that a diet rich in omega 3s also can reduce the risk of heart attack and also stroke.

Omega 3s also act as WD-40 for the joints. Because they inhibit the effects of inflammatory chemical such as prostaglandins, they’re a natural choice for people who suffer joint pain and stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis.

These fats have an ocean of other uses. They can reduce inflammatory bowel disease symptoms, ease menstrual pain, and even help combat depression. Some scientists suspect that the increasing incidence of depression in the United States is due in part to declining levels of fish consumption. Low levels of omega 3s may weaken cell membranes and the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. When scientists looked at 44 people with bipolar disorder, a severe form of depression, they  found that nearly two out of three improved if they were given fish oil.


This minty herb is a great breath freshener and has stronger healing powers than you may realize.

Peppermint is among the best herbs for digestive problems and intestinal pain. My Grandma was never without a peppermint in her purse, was your? The oils it contains, especially menthol and menthone, relax the smooth muscles that line the intestinal tract, helping to relieve cramping. It’s also useful against mild nausea, since peppermint slightly anesthetizes the stomach lining.

Drinking peppermint tea or merely sniffing the aromatic vapors is an effective decongestant that thins mucus and reduces nasal inflammation. Peppermint may even reduce bronchial constriction and the tightening of the airways that accompanies asthma attacks.

Because it aids digestion, peppermint can help you avoid flatulence. Doctors with an interest in herbal medicine now recommend peppermint oil taken in enteric coated capsules for a variety of digestive complaints, including gallstones (preliminary evidence suggests that peppermint helps dissolve gallstones and could potentially reduce the need for surgery), irritable bowel syndrome, and ulcers.

Curiously enough, the peppermint candies served by restaurants don’t have the digestive aiding power of the herb itself. They contain minuscule amounts of flavoring, not enough to provide a therapeutic effect.

Growing peppermint is easy and enjoyable, but it’s an invasive plant so pots work better. Grab a handful of leaves and just take a big whiff, or steep them in some hot water for a refreshing as well as healing herbal tea.


As tart tasting as an unripe apple, vinegar is the bane of bacteria, the foe of fungi, and the solution to jellyfish stings.

Spread on skin, it evaporates quickly, providing a friendly chill that can quell a sunburn. Vinegar also helps counter the inflammation that causes sunburns to itch.

When bacteria or fungi flourish in the warm, moist hollows of an ear canal, the condition is called swimmer’s ear. Vinegar fight both kinds of invaders, which is why, when mixed in equal parts with rubbing alcohol and dropped into the ear, it can help cure the condition. It can also be used to dry up cold sores.

Vinegar makes hair more lustrous and soften skin. Rinsing the hair with vinegar may also help ease dandruff and scalp itch. And should someone faint, vinegar is a handy alternative to smelling salts. If you’re suffering from indigestion because of a lack of stomach acid, a teaspoon of vinegar after meals may be just the ticket.


Some intestinal bacteria, along with organisms in the vagina and urinary tract, cause all sorts of problems. That’s why you should keep your refrigerator stocked with yogurt. Active or live cultures in yogurt means health benefits galore!

These cultures are “good” bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Strptococcus thermophilus, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus, collectively known as probiotics, that protect your body from harmful bacteria by using up resources that those bacteria need in order to thrive.

If you’re taking antibiotics, the drugs wipe out the “good” bugs along with the “bad” ones causing your infection. This can lead to diarrhea, cramps, gas, and yeast infections. Eating yogurt that contains active cultures can turn things around. University of Pittsburgh researchers found that patients who ate two 8 ounce servings of yogurt daily had only half the rate of antibiotic associated diarrhea compared to non-yogurt eaters.

Other studies show that the beneficial bacteria in yogurt reduce infant diarrhea, suppress symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome, and ease some types of food poisoning. A study at Long Island Jewish Medical Center found that the rate of yeast infections dropped considerably in women who ate 8 ounces of live culture yogurt daily.

Yogurt may even boost your immune system: A study at the University of California at Davis School of Medicine found that eating two cups of yogurt daily can quadruple levels of gamma interferon, a protein produced by white blood cells that assists the immune system in fighting off germs.

Side note on antibiotics: taking antibiotics will reduce or eliminate the potency of oral contraceptives. Found that out the hard way.