Estimated reading time: 13 minutes
Whether it was the Incas in South America, the Chinese in Asia, the Greeks in Europe, the tribes of Africa, or the natives of North America, every ancient culture had its own healing practices. They developed remedies with a combination of natural ingredients, trial and error, common sense, and often a hearty dose of ritual and prayer.
While some of this ancient wisdom has been passed down through the ages, others have been pushed aside by modern treatments. In this article, we explore some of these time-honored remedies and how you can learn how to incorporate them into your health and well-being today.
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Did you know this fragrant herb can serve as a natural sleep aid? The chemicals in lavender have a calming and sleep-inducing effect. Smelling lavender helps decrease blood pressure and heart rate, helping the body and the mind to relax.
This video describes four ways for using lavender as a sleep aid, including how to brew relacing lavender tea.
Native Americans used this perennial plant to help the body fight off infections and boost immunity. Every part of the plant can offer health benefits, and you can use it topically as a tincture or drink it as a tea. Here is a video that shows you the steps for using Echinacea as a health remedy.
3. Willow bark
Willow bark has been used for many centuries to treat pain, especially headaches, lower back pain, and inflammation. Today, the bark of several willow tree varieties is used to make salicin, the active ingredient in aspirin. How can you harvest and use willow bark to treat pain? Check out this article.
Ginger is a time-tested remedy for nausea and other forms of stomach upset. Scientists believe the plant works by blocking serotonin receptors in the gut that can cause nausea. This article from Mount Sinai explains the different ways you can consume ginger for health benefits.
Prunes are a natural way to boost your fiber intake and are a centuries-old remedy for constipation. In fact, studies have shown that prunes are more effective at treating constipation than the leading pharmaceutical treatments (such as Metamucil®) that contain psyllium. Here is how to make prune juice, and here is a recipe for stewed prunes.
Rolled oats added to bathwater can help alleviate itchiness and soothe dry skin. Oats also help treat eczema and rashes. Begin with whole, uncooled oats and follow these directions for a healing oatmeal bath.
7. Cranberry juice
Do you know someone who drinks cranberry juice as a way to ward off a urinary tract infection (UTI)? Studies show that the ingredients in cranberries, known as A-type proanthocyanidins (PACs), can stop bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.
Many cranberry beverages sold in grocery stores are “cocktails” that are filled with extra ingredients like corn syrup. Here is how to make a natural homemade version.
The gel found in the aloe vera plant contains anti-inflammatory agents and is useful for treating sunburn and other burns. As one of the oldest medicinal plants known by historians, aloe vera was favored used by the Ancient Chinese and Egyptians for its medicinal and moisturizing properties. This video shows how to harvest and use aloe vera gel from the plant.
Lemons are an excellent source of Vitamin C, but did you know that they can help reduce nausea and motion sickness? Here’s why. Our bodies produce extra saliva when we experience motion sickness.
Sucking on a lemon slice causes your mouth to pucker, thereby reducing saliva production. Even smelling a fresh lemon can help some people feel better. Here are other health benefits of lemons and lemon water.
People have turned to honey as a cough reliever for many centuries. Honey has antiseptic and antibacterial properties, making it an effective treatment for wounds and infections. Try to buy locally produced raw honey for the best results, and avoid giving it to children under the age of two. Here’s more on using honey for health benefits.
11. Witch hazel
The tannins found in the witch hazel plant can cool the pain and reduce the swelling of hemorrhoids. This video shows how to harvest witch hazel, and this article shares details on making witch hazel treatments.
12. Neti pot
The neti pot is an ancient Indian tradition for nasal irrigation. Using sterile water is essential for this age-old remedy. This video shows the supplies you need and the steps to take for this easy and inexpensive remedy for congestion.
13. Fish oil
Fish oil is a liquid that can be extracted from oily fish like herring, mackerel, tuna, and anchovies. It also can be extracted from the livers of other fish, such as the cod. The benefits of consuming fish oils include heart, brain, and eye health. It’s not a process for the squeamish, but here’s how to make your own homemade fish oil.
You probably know that an ice pack can help reduce swelling after an injury, but did you know ice also is an ancient remedy for headache pain? It’s easy to give it a try, according to the National Headache Foundation. Simply place ice or an ice pack wrapped in cloth on your forehead, temples, or the back of the neck.
The lactic acid in buttermilk can help lighten dark spots and help heal blemishes. Apply a small amount of buttermilk to the affected area with a cotton ball. Rinse with water after about 20 minutes. This article explains more of the ways you can use buttermilk to help the skin.
This leafy medicinal plant contains a compound called allantoin that can accelerate new tissue growth, helping heal wounds faster. It also can help heal sprains, bruises, and other skin injuries and relieve muscle pain.
Here is information on ways you can use comfrey. And here’s an article that describes how to grow, harvest, and use comfrey.
Ancient herbalists used elderberry to help treat cold and flu symptoms. Chemicals in the plant’s berries and flowers help reduce swelling in the sinuses and mucous membranes, relieving nasal congestion. You should not consume raw elderberries; using them as a tincture or syrup is best. This video shows you how to make elderberry syrup with dried elderberries.
Ground flaxseed is a source of insoluble and soluble fiber that can promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut and help relieve constipation. Derived from the flax plant, flaxseed is easy to add to cereals, breads, and smoothies for a fiber-rich diet.
You can buy ready-to-eat ground flaxseed or whole flaxseed that you grind at home in a food processor or coffee grinder. Ground flaxseed is recommended because it is much easier to digest. Here’s more on the benefits of flaxseed.
You can brew up a natural expectorant with thyme tea. Simply place two tablespoons of fresh thyme (or one tablespoon of dried thyme) in a cup of hot water. Steep for about three minutes before draining out the thyme.
You can drink as is or add a little honey as a sweetener. And here’s how to make thyme syrup to help treat cough and cold symptoms.
Blackberries are rich in tannins, which health practitioners have long known to help ease problems in the intestinal tract. Blackberries also contain anthocyanin, which is thought to be helpful in treating inflammation. Here’s how to forage blackberry leaves and make blackberry tea to help treat diarrhea.
You’ve probably seen photos of people with cucumber slices on their eyelids and wondered if this practice has any real benefit. Here’s the scoop. Cucumbers are rich in antioxidants that can help decrease swelling and relieve pain in the delicate eye area.
It’s a good idea to replace the cool slices with a fresh pair every three minutes or so for up to 15 minutes of this soothing treatment. You can read this article for more information on the health benefits of cucumbers.
Although some gardeners consider burdock a pesky weed, the ancient Celts used it for medicinal purposes. Known as gobo root in Japan, burdock root is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and detoxifying effects on the body. You can eat it as a vegetable or make healthy and nourishing burdock root tea.
Although we often think of it for its refreshing flavor, mint has some important health benefits. Most varieties of this herb help soothe the stomach and promote digestion. Mint also can provide a calming effect on the mind, helping to promote better sleep. Here’s a recipe for making soothing mint tea to help you harness some of the benefits of mint.
Cherries are full of vitamins, minerals, and other healthy plant compounds, but did you know they have been prescribed for centuries to help treat gout? According to the Arthritis Foundation, cherries contain compounds that help to lower uric acid in the body, reducing the severity of gout attacks.
Studies also reveal that cherries may help ease symptoms of osteoarthritis, heart disease, insomnia, and dementia and help boost muscle recovery after exercise.
Although you may know cloves only as a spice, they have antibacterial properties that can help fight gingivitis and plaque and promote better overall oral health. This video shows the health benefits of drinking clove tea and shares how to make it.
Many herbal remedies can have side effects, especially when ingested in large quantities or used incorrectly. So, it’s a good idea to consult a trained herbalist or medical professional before trying these remedies.
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