Natural remedies that actually work

by Pamela Madonsela
Natural remedies that actually work
Reading Time: 4 minutes
One of the most cherished things that can be passed from generation to the next are natural remedies that you can make in the comfort of your own home. But what traditional remedies actually work and how can we use them safely? By Pamela Madonsela

Soweto-based urban subsistence gardener, Faith Zalekile says that growing up she was a sickly child with varying ailments. Often, Western medicine were not effective or they were not in a space to access it so her parents would make use of African medicines and herbs.

“School holidays were always fun growing up except for when gran would prepare Iboza Plant for us to drink as a laxative and help our bodies detox. We dreaded it because of its extremely bitter taste!  Having to drink a whole cup of it felt like punishment of the highest order. Gran would harvest the leaves herself and boil them in water.

We’d be called in to drink our share while the concoction was still warm. In later years as a teen, I suffered from severe migraines and she would crush the leaves of Iboza for me to inhale. I still use it to this day and I have it planted in my yard; it dulls the ache, particularly if the migraine is caught at the onset.”

Take with caution

Dr Nonjabulo Dladla says, “I do believe in some natural remedies that have existed for years without any obvious side effects.” But he also explains that children need lower dosages. Just because these are natural remedies it does mean that there could be no side effects or contraindications with other medications.

He says that pregnant women also need to be vigilant with natural remedies as there is always concern about risk to the foetus. They have decreased immunity which means illnesses can become complicated faster. They have altered function of kidney and fluid levels which may impact the amount of a substance in their system.

The elderly population often have poor kidney function which may change how their body responds. Lower doses are usually needed. Anyone on chronic medicine needs to make sure  that it doesn’t interact with any natural remedy they are taking. He advises always checking with your doctor or healthcare provider first before taking anything.

“I do believe in some natural remedies that have existed for years without any obvious side effects.”- Dr Dladla

Here are some natural remedies to try:

Flu fighters

  • Grated ginger in hot water with a dash of honey eases the chest on cold, wintry days. You can also add or boil it up with some chopped onion and garlic. You can also squeeze fresh lemon juice into it.
  • According to research, Ginger is also an effective inflammatory
  • Sugar, vinegar and fish oil is also a cough mixture that works wonders.
  • Iboza plant leaves–smash the leaves in a clean wooden bowl and boil them until the water is green, cool it down and drink it.
  • Eucalyptus or peppermint oil is brilliant for colds and unblocking the sinuses. Rub it on your forehead and glands. Be careful not to get it in your eyes.
  • Umhlonyane (Artemisia Afra) “When the winter season would start, we have always have this herb as a tea. As it has such bitter taste, my gran would boil it with Rooibos leaves and ginger. Then add lemon and honey to taste. I still use this even now for my family to combat respiratory illnesses such as flu and bronchitis and any chest congestion,” says Zalekile.
  • Gargle with salt dissolved in some warm water for a sore throat. Do this often.

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Sleepy time

  • Camomile and lavender essential oils are very soothing and relaxing- mix them with a carrier oil like coconut or grapeseed and massage into the feet or other muscles.
  • Camomile tea is also a good choice.
  • Passiflora as a tincture can also help with sleep. Make sure to dilute in warm water.
  • If you grow them, you can boil them and make your own tea.

Painful muscles & bruises

  • Arnica oil works wonders when massaged into painful muscles and rubbed gently onto bruises.
  • If you grow the plant, you cam boil it into a tea for recovery after surgery or any kind of procedure.

Aloe Vera- the must have plant.

According to research, Aloe is a medicinal plant that has been used over the years and it can be used  for many treatments.

  • For asthma attacks you boil the aloe leaves and drink the cooled down mixture.
  • It can also be used to treat burns as well as acne or eczema by applying the gel from the aloe leaves directly to the skin.
  • Weaning your baby off breastfeeding can be a mission but rubbing aloe vera on the nipples is a trick tried by most parents. The horrible taste of the aloe vera gel puts the baby off breastfeeding.
  • It can also be used as a stress reliever.

“The issue is that we do not know what the overdose level is so we never know when we are taking too much so always consult a doctor or nurse at the clinic.” – Dr Lukhele

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Ginger for nausea

Ginger helps with morning sicknesses or any kind of nausea. You can boil it into a tea or grate it into a tea.

Medical professional, Dr. Noma Lukhele, always advises people to seek medical attention even though they are using traditional remedies. “The issue is that we do not know what the overdose level is so we never know when we are taking too much so always consult a doctor or nurse at the clinic,” she says. Natural remedies that actually work

These dangerous symptoms always warrant urgent medical attention. Do not try to treat them at home with natural remedies:

  • shortness of breath or fast breathing
  • fever with coughing up blood
  • vomiting blood or vomiting both solids and fluids
  • diarrhoea with blood, or diarrhoea that causes weakness and muscle aches.

*always consult a medical professional before using any natural remedies for yourself, your child or baby.

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