Thursday, February 23, 2012

5 Tips to Beat What Ails You

The Topic: Natural, inexpensive ways to feel better with Associate Editor Jennifer Chen

The Dish: Lately, many VN staffers and my husband have been nursing colds, upset stomachs, terrible sinus infections, and sore throats. I don't like relying on conventional medicine to solve what ails me, mainly because growing up, my mom always gave me home remedies instead. When I found out that I was deadly allergic to aspirin, I sought out natural cures for headaches. Besides, who knows what chemicals and not-so animal-friendly ingredients are in over-the-counter medicines? So here are my tips for soothing some common illnesses. (I'm not a doctor so please don't take this as medical advice. Consult your physician if you have any serious health issues.)

1. Upset stomach. One word: ginger. This simple little root is a staple in my kitchen pantry. Not only can you use it when cooking, but it helps me when my stomach is upset. I grate about 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger into a hot mug of water and sip it. If the taste of ginger is too strong for you, you can add a little agave to sweeten it. Ginger is also great for treating colds, motion sickness, and nausea. I like Yogi Tea's Ginger Tea as well. Another option is peppermint oil. I use a drop or two in filtered water and drink it when my stomach isn't right. Peppermint oil is strong, so a little goes a long way.

2. Sore throat. I swear by Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat for sore throats. My husband has had a terrible sore throat for several days and had an important meeting where he had to talk the whole time, so I gave him mug after mug of this tea. One of the main herbs in the tea is slippery elm bark, which I recently learned from Spork Foods' Jenny Engel, is a natural remedy for sore throats.

3. Headaches. After discovering my severe allergy to aspirin, I turned to essential oils instead of meds. I bought a small in-room electric diffuser and use lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus essential oils in rotation. I use lavender essential oil for headaches and alleviating stress. I mix peppermint oil with a little almond oil and rub it into my temples for immediate relief. You can also add a few drops of either oil in a hot shower for even more aromatherapy. But don't use peppermint oil straight out of the jar because it can cause a bad skin reaction. I use the brand Aura Cacia and you can find $1 off coupons  here.

4. Allergies. I also suffer from terrible allergies (I am like the bubble boy from Seinfeld) and used to rely on antihistamines to cure stuffy noses and sneezing attacks, but now I put a few drops of eucalyptus oil in my diffuser before I go to sleep. It works like a charm. I also swear by the neti pot. Here's a video explaining how to use it. Maybe it looks a bit scary but it's totally worth it. Trust me, I had to spend 15 minutes convincing myself to use it. But my allergies are much, much better.

5. Restless sleep. When you're not getting enough sleep, it can really hurt your immune system. As someone who has trouble falling asleep, I found that this free Falling Asleep meditation podcast knocks me out in 15 minutes. The hosts, Jesse and Jane Stern, talk you through a visualization exercise that just works every time I use it. In fact, it's so good that I usually fall asleep halfway through.

The Final Word: Hopefully, you're feeling in tip-top shape, but when you're under-the-weather, try some simple cures to get back to normal. If you need even more tips, check out our Top 10 Detox Foods for other food-related treatments. I'd love to know if you have any tried-and-true home remedies, so please share in the comments.


  1. These are some really good tips! I'm going to check out that sleep podcast.

  2. Ooo yes, thanks for the tips! Especially the sleep podcast- now that's an insomnia remedy I haven't yet heard of!

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