Category Archives: Remedies

Herbal remedies

More Cold Remedies

Here in Western Pennsylvania, spring is just around the corner, but like this seemingly unending winter, the common cold will not go away. I thought I would add to my list of home cold remedies. Most of these items are already in your kitchen.

More Cold Remedies

Oregano
More Cold Remedies, Oregano
Cold Remedies, Oregano

Francisca used oregano in her snakebite remedy. It is also good for many other ailments, including the common cold. Oregano tea is helpful in loosening phlegm and soothing coughs and asthma. Make oregano tea from either dried or fresh leaves. If you don’t have any oregano plants hanging from your rafters as they did in Le Petit-Courty, you probably have a jar in the spice cupboard. Place a teaspoon of dried leaves in a mug and add boiling water. If you can find fresh oregano at the supermarket, be sure to buy organic. Tea made out of insecticide-laced oregano will not make anyone feel better. Use three teaspoons of fresh bruised leaves. Allow the leaves steep for 5 – 10 minutes. Breathe in the vapors as it steeps, then add a little honey (also adding additional antioxidant properties) and lemon juice, and enjoy your natural remedy.

Apple Cider Vinegar
More Cold Remedies, Vinegar
Pittsburgh’s own Heinz Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar, especially unfiltered vinegar with the mother, is a powerful cold remedy. A few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a tablespoon honey mixed in a cup of water will knock out a cold. Enjoy this sweet-tart concoction several times a day. Some add a teaspoon of cayenne pepper for additional anti-inflammatory benefits and an added kick.

Ginger
More Cold Remedies, Ginger
Ginger Root.
Image courtesy of wikipedia

People have used ginger for thousands of years to expel toxins in the body. Ginger’s natural anti-inflammatory properties will soothe your throat and warm your body to chase colds away. You need about a two-inch piece of ginger root. Peel and thinly slice and add to about four cups of water. Allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes, and then strain into mug. Ginger is naturally sweet, so taste before adding anything additional, but a squeeze of lemon, cinnamon, and honey also add flavor and benefits.

Sources:

Weiner, Michael A., Earth Medicine, Earth Food. MacMillan Publishing Co, Inc. (1980) Print
http://www.naturalnews.com/042226_common_cold_natural_remedies_apple_cider_vinegar.html

Dry Skin

This time of year, those of us who live in cold winter climates deal with dry itchy skin as an unpleasant fact. The residents of Le Petit-Courty did not enjoy a forced air heated environment, nor did they bathe every day, or even every week for that matter. As a result, they probably did not suffer with dry skin.

The combination of heated dry air plus the drying effects of bathing wreaks havoc on our skin. There are many ways to help with these dry skin issues.

Oils
Oils

Turn down the heat. Heat makes your blood vessels dilate, so keeping your house cooler has an anesthetic effect. For the same reason, when you bathe, use warm, not hot water, and follow each bath with moisture to hold the water, not the oil, into your skin. To maximize the effects, apply the moisturizer while your skin is still damp.

Expensive moisturizers and creams are not necessary to keep skin supple. Petroleum jelly or baby oil is just as effective. Actually, any kitchen oil, sunflower, peanut, or canola oil will help with dry skin. Keep it in the shower and apply before drying. If your skin is overly sensitive, get rid of that soap, go to your pantry, and get the oatmeal. Tie some steel cut oats in a cloth, dunk it in water, and use like a scrunchy.

Add moisture to your air. If you have a wood burner, place a pan of water on the top, just be sure to keep children away to avoid accidents. A small humidifier by the bed will also help.

On rare occasions, dry skin may result from a vitamin deficiency, and boosting intake of Vitamin A and C, the group B vitamins, and Zinc may help. Severely dry skin may be a signal of thyroid disorder or lymphoma, however, and a doctor should evaluate any scaling, or wrinkling.

Sources:
Tkac, Debora. The Doctors Book of Home Remedies: Thousands of Tips and Techniques Anyone Can Use to Heal Everyday Health Problems. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 1990. Print.

Reader’s Digest Foods That Harm Foods That Heal. Surry Hills, NSW Reader’s Digest, 1997 Print.

Natural Cold Remedies

This time of year, everyone seems to have the sniffles. Francisca surely had a list of natural cold remedies to treat the symptoms. Here are just a few she may have prescribed. This year, why not try a few home remedies before putting more chemicals into your body?

salt
Salt for gargle

 

For a sore throat, mix a few tablespoons of salt to a glass of warm water and gargle for thirty seconds, up to eight times a day. Why does this work? Did you ever notice that your throat feels raw and swollen when it is sore? The salt naturally dries the excessive fluid and reduces swelling. The bacteria that cause a sore throat cannot grow as easily in the drier environment. The salt may not kill the bacteria, but it will make your throat less hospitable for it to take up residence there.

hot peppers
hot peppers to clear congestion

 

Eat spicy foods. Spicy enough to make your eyes and nose run, which will help clear congestion. Hot peppers also have an expectorant effect that helps loosen mucus and clear your lungs. If you like garlic, try cooking it to soften and then crush and spread on a sandwich or use to make a tea.

 

Catmint
Catmint tea for sore throat
Catnip or catmint – You won’t find any outside this time of year, but if you can find a plant from a greenhouse, catmint is easy to grown indoors. Place it on a sunny windowsill, as lack of light will prohibit the leaf growth. Pinching off the flowers as soon as they appear will also help the plant fill out. Make sure to water it enough in the dry winter environment. As soon as the plant grows to about six to eight inches, you can start using the leaves. Plant outside after the last frost and replace your indoor catmint plant in the fall with a fresh plant.

A tea made from catnip may soothe a sore throat and help loosen phlegm, but catnip also works as an antacid, for diarrhea and stomach upset. It may reduce anxiety and insomnia as well. The anti-inflammatory properties of catnip also make it an effective treatment for arthritis and help with the swelling of insect bites. Catnip works as a sedative, so do not mix with other sedatives. It also may act as a diuretic so use it in moderation. To make the tea, remove the water from the heat for a minute or two before pouring over the catnip flowering tops and steep.

Sources:
Weiner, Michael A., Earth Medicine, Earth Food. MacMillan Publishing Co, Inc. (1980) Print
Ward, Bernie, 650 Home Remedies, An Essential Companion for Every Home. Globe Communications Corp (1996) Print

Francisca’s Herbal Remedies

Fireplace drying herbs
Fireplace drying herbs in the farmhouse at Le Petit-Courty

And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing. (Genesis 1:29)

 

Hanging from the rafters of Le Petit-Courty, like an upside down garden, Francisca dried plants, roots, and bark, ready for immediate use to treat whatever ailed the Cathillon family or the people of Vacquenoux.

Hemp-Agrimony

Hemp-Agrimony
Francisca’s Favorite Herb, Hemp-Agrimony

Of the myriad of species collected, she relied on Hemp-Agrimony above all others, collecting the leaves and flowering tops in August, before they opened and dried. Vitamin C in plants such as Hemp-Agrimony staved off scurvy and colds during the long Vosges winter without fresh fruits.

A tea made from Hemp-Agrimony leaves or dried flowers treated colds and sore throats, reduced fever, and relieved stomachaches. The bruised leaves applied directly to the skin healed wounds or infections, or rubbed on domestic animals repelled insects. Placing the leaves in a bath relieved aching muscles and joints and a compress of the leaves relieved headaches. Even the roots from the plant were used as a laxative.

Commonly found in wet soil near swamps and thickets or along freshwater streams, Hemp-Agrimony is a tall woody plant, growing between two and five feet high with long, toothy leaflets. The leaves grow in familiar tiered hemp-style in pairs of three lobes. Reddish stems covered in downy hair with clusters of tiny pink or white flowers that burst forth from July to September.

Hemp-Agrimony is no relation to Agrimony, a plant with yellow flowers, nor is it related to Cannabis Hemp, though the shape of the leaf is similar. All parts of the this is poisonous if eaten and should only be ingested as a tea.

Source: Weiner, Michael A., Earth Medicine, Earth Food. MacMillan Publishing Co, Inc. (1980) Print