My grandmother’s home remedies

This reader story comes from SB, a regular reader and commenter on GRS. SB writes about personal finance and personal development topics at One Cent at a Time.

Some reader stories contain general advice; others are examples of how a GRS reader achieved financial success or failure. These stories feature folks with all levels of financial maturity and income. 

This is my second article at this blog. I am grateful to J.D. and his team’s humble gesture in allowing me to do it. I hope to provide the same value regular writers of this blog provide to you.

My grandmother was nearly illiterate, born and reared in rural India during the British occupation of the country. At the age of 14, she was abducted by the British army (later released), which ultimately caused her to marry early at the age of 16. She couldn’t complete school beyond basic education. Still, she became a very wise woman and mastered many skills.

My aunt happened to write down some of my grandmother’s home-remedy techniques from her narration. Recently, my cousin forwarded me a soft copy of that compilation. I’ll mention a few common symptoms and their natural cures, all at a fraction of the cost of medicine. But before that, let me tell you why I find home-based cures so beneficial.

The Benefits of Home Remedies

  • Drugs contain unnatural substances and chemicals, which are foreign elements to our body.  Natural remedies, on the other hand, are not synthetic molecules like drugs; they are made of living organisms which we eat anyway.
  • Some drugs act as a manipulator and force the brain to think differently — an example is an anti-depressant. The problem with this is, the moment you stop taking the drug, the symptoms often recur.
  • Natural remedies have fewer side effects compared to prescription drugs, as drugs tend to alter the chemical and hormonal balance of our body.
  • Natural remedies are available at a fraction of the cost of prescription drugs. Your grocery bill will cover them.

The Benefits of Prescription Drugs

It is important to remember that most drugs are developed by studying the natural cures and identifying ingredients which actually affect the symptoms. Still, prescription drugs are more useful under most circumstances. They work faster. We can’t afford to be bedridden for days and hope for natural cures to work someday. Life is tough and we must get well sooner.

We don’t have time to be sick. Prescription drugs provide the quickest recovery. They start fighting the bacteria and antibodies as soon as we take them. You may argue that we take chemically altered substances every day, be it the milk or the apple, or even the chicken. They have pesticides, growth hormones and God knows what.

An Introduction to Home Remedies

My grandmother was raised in a 100 percent organic environment. With near zero pollution, she ate healthy, farm-harvested food. Since childhood, I took medicines almost for any illness; rarely was I given a natural cure, except honey and basil leaves for a cold. Our bodies are used to chemicals anyway; therefore, natural remedies may not work the way they worked for our grandparents. Still, there is no harm in detoxifying our bodies to the extent we can, over time. My grandmother’s advice may help to  accomplish that goal.

Here are some excerpts from the treasure I was handed recently.

Acidity: Acidity is caused by excess acid secretion from the gastric gland, the acid which is used for digestion.

  • Chew a piece of clove, and take some time to swallow. It provides instant relief.
  • Another immediate relief is to eat a small cup of yogurt.
  • For more sustainable relief, drink warm water every day early in the morning.
  • Drink coconut water regularly.
  • Mix a few drops of honey in water to drink.
  • If you know what a jaggery is, suck a small cube of it after lunch/dinner.
  • A glass of water with a teaspoon of soda can also provide immediate cure.
  • A couple of pieces of dates can also give you instant relief.

Backache: If you happen to work in a chair, you may have this symptom already. As a software professional, I have had backaches for the last few years. The natural cure is garlic. Eat a couple of cloves of garlic every day.

  • Prepare an ointment by frying a few cloves of garlic in olive oil, strain and let it cool. Apply to your back every day.
  • Indian masala tea can be a cure too — the one with cloves or ginger. Take it daily. (Two cups of masala tea can boost your energy as well, which is a low-cost replacement of Red Bull or 5-Hour Energy drinks.)
  • Eating oranges, lemons and berries can reduce the pain over time.
  • Drinking water with a tablespoon of honey can make your day pain-free as well.

Cough and cold: When allergens or viral infections cause an inflammation in the upper respiratory tract, we get cough and cold. Here is a less-costly alternative to Tylenol or Excedrin. (This is a remedy I learned in childhood: My mother used to give me a teaspoon of honey and a few basil leaves  –Indian Tulsi — to chew. To get instant relief from congestion of nasal passages, she used to heat water with some cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon sticks and peppercorns.)

  • A soup with a lot of garlic in it can also bring relief.
  • Cut okra into small pieces and boil it, inhale the steam to get relief as well.
  • Take a hot-water bath when you catch a cold.

Migraine: This is caused by a contraction of blood vessels in the head. It can be caused by stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, nicotine and alcohol consumption.

  • Concentrated grape juice can bring relief.
  • For a more sustainable remedy, put tomatoes and cabbage into your daily salad.
  • A daily dose of garlic can treat this symptom as well.
  • Grind cabbage leaves and apply to the affected area for relief.
  • When migraines occur, excuse yourself from work. Find a dark room and lie down. Exposure to sunlight may cause the migraine to intensify.
  • Per my grandmother, even if the migraine is in the back of your head, applying sandalwood powder on the forehead can cause blood vessels to function properly. You may have seen Indian religious workers applying a patch of sandalwood powder on the forehead throughout the day. It’s an age-old practice.

Snoring: I am afflicted with this disease for sure. My wife says I am the worst offender and she can’t sleep because of my snoring, so I have started following these tactics already.

  • Stop smoking. Smoking causes more mucus formation around the throat.
  • Go to the gym. Weight loss can even end snoring.
  • Alcohol increases snoring. (When you drink, you’d better sleep in a separate room!)
  • Sleep side-wise rather than on your back.
  • Avoid heavy meals before going to bed.
  • Stop eating oily/spicy foods at dinner.
  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule, and don’t sleep during the day.
  • Wash the bed sheets and pillow covers frequently, and even change your pillow after a few months. The dust and allergens can accumulate on them, causing nasal passage blocks.

Stress: It’s amazing that stress was a concern even 60 years ago in a rural village. Here is her wisdom, which may reduce stress because you’re saving money. But more than the money saved, the main point here is reducing the dependence on synthetic drugs.

  • Chewing Indian basil (Tulsi) leaves every day is the best natural cure.
  • Yoga and Dhyana (meditation) can also cure this.
  • Milk and almonds in the morning keep you fresh and energetic.
  • Bad eating, oily foods, eating meals quickly, and drinking alcohol may cause depression over time. One of her tips to cure stress is to “love everybody and everything”!
  • Applying betel leaves on your forehead can ease your tension.

A few ingredients which are repeated here (and in the rest of the natural cures my grandmother used but which I don’t mention here) are mint, honey, water and garlic. Have sufficient supply of these items at your home, if you plan to follow the tips.

Also, another synergy I can see here is the morning drinking and eating habits. If you start your day the right way, the rest of your day should follow that lead and keep you upbeat.

Readers, even if you rely on these natural remedies, when the situation warrants it, there’s no alternative to a doctor and the prescription medicine. You need to know when to rely on home remedies and when to go to a doctor. Don’t ignore your doctor for a bit.

More about...Frugality, Food, Health & Fitness

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