By Amanda Box
When I tell people that I am a Naturopath or that I work in alternative medicine, I get some pretty strange looks. Thoughts of “snake oil” cures and weird new age practices often come streaming to people’s minds. I can see it on their face. I then have to reassure them that I’m not crazy. I then talk about something they can relate to like vitamins or eating healthy. My choice of career hasn’t always been an easy path to walk on.
Even though it can be a challenge, I wouldn’t change a thing. I love the field I work in! Thankfully, natural remedies are becoming more and more accepted by the mainstream medical field. Things that were considered “weird” are becoming normal practice. Acupuncture is a great example. Many doctors now recommend acupuncture for pain management, which rarely happened 15 years ago. So much has changed for the better and it is my hope that more and more natural alternatives will make their way into the allopathic world.
Not much surprises me any more when it comes to strange and natural remedies that work. I have actually grown to love the testimonies from people who have tried unusual remedies, usually with a hint of skepticism, only to see them actually work!
In this article, I am going to highlight some natural cures that are definitely out of the box. I have either used these myself or have friends who have tried them and were pleasantly surprised by the results! Yes, they are unconventional and some may even make no sense whatsoever. However, they are completely pain free, chemical free, and side-effect free. So, why not give them a shot?
The Magic Onion
Onions have quite the reputation for eliminating viruses and bacteria. They have been getting quite a bit of press lately, but have been used for thousands of years as a standard treatment for illnesses. Onions can be used medicinally in several different ways.
- Onions sliced in half placed throughout the home are said to absorb airborne viruses and bacteria.
- Place sliced onion round on the bottom of feet. Tape or wear a sock to hold them in place. This method pulls the virus out of the body through the foot. It is also great for pulling out fever. The onion will typically be black in the morning because it is filled with toxins.
- Onion compresses on the chest are excellent at breaking up chest congestion. The old timers used to mix crushed onion with lard or goose fat. I think coconut oil would make a fantastic alternative. Cover the chest with the paste and wrap in flannel.
- It isn’t tasty going down, but onion juice can be mixed with some honey to improve it’s flavor. This juice gives your immune system the boost it needs during times of illness.
Focusing on the Feet
Our feet are one of the most absorbent parts of our body. If you apply onion, garlic, or even essential oils to your feet, don’t be surprised if you can taste it! This is why our feet are the focus for so many medicinal applications. Applying natural remedies to the feet gets the healing properties in the bloodstream easily and effectively.
External applications are sometimes better than ingestion. When you ingest something, it has to pass through the entire digestive tract and be processed by the liver, which can then take quite a while before it is effective in the bloodstream. Foot application is a quick way to get natural medicines into your bloodstream and where they need to go to work.
Wet Sock Treatment
Recommended by a great friend of mine, wet sock treatment has worked wonders for her kids. Placing cold wet socks on the feet stimulates the immune system and body circulation. The science behind this weird remedy is the body reacts to the cold, by heating the body and is very effective for congestion, headaches, sore throat and inflammation.
This remedy is incredibly easy! Make sure the feet are initially warm and dry and then apply a pair of thin socks that have been soaked in ice water and wrung out. Place another pair of thick, preferably wool socks on top and go to bed. Make sure the rest of the body is covered well and plenty warm.
Vapor Rub on the Feet
This is another favorite among Moms for their kids and babies who have a cough or congestion. This natural remedy actually began with mixing goose fat with either turpentine or camphorated oil. Now, it’s much easier to have a jar of vapor rub on hand. Cover the bottoms of the feet with a liberal amount of vapor rub and then cover with socks for the night! Over the counter cough medicines are extremely dangerous, so this is a wacky cure for the common cough!
Coconut Oil on the Feet
Another weird way to get amazing medicinal properties into a child’s body is applying coconut oil to the feet! Coconut oil is great to take internally to fight viruses and bacteria. It contains lauric acid, a component also in breast milk that has antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Taking a few tablespoons of coconut oil when you feel sick is a fantastic idea. However, a sick child or particularly an infant, may not be able to consume the oil. Applying a liberal layer to the bottom of the feet allows that amazing lauric acid absorb into the body and do it’s job!
Heavenly Honey Cures
Honey is another largely used natural medicine. It is really so much more than a deliciously sweet sugar alternative! I recommend using raw local honey medicinally. There is some controversy right now about honey being flown in from China and mixed with corn syrup. So check the label and make sure it’s from your area and if it’s raw, that makes it even better! Try not to heat honey because it can kill some of it’s healing properties.
Honey contains natural antibiotic properties and contains many antioxidants.
- Put a dab of honey on burns and wounds as a natural antibiotic ointment. It has been proven more effective at killing bacteria on wounds than hydrogen peroxide!
- Use it alone for a natural cough syrup. It soothes the mucous membranes.
- Gargle a mixture of honey and organic apple cider vinegar for sore throats. It coats the throats, soothes, and also kills bacteria in the throat.
Castor Oil Cures
One of the most ancient remedies that has nearly been forgotten is castor oil. It has been used for centuries in India, China, Africa, Greece, Rome, and Europe. It heals so well that it was often called “The Palma Christi” or “Hand of Christ.” I, personally, had never heard of castor oil until I started working in the natural health industry.
Castor oil is another trifecta remedy. By that I mean, it is antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral. Plus, it can be used both externally and internally. My first experience with castor oil was as a labor stimulant. I naturally induced the birth of 2 of my children with castor oil. I followed the famed “Midwife Cocktail” protocol and it worked both times – though not exactly a fun experience!
Castor oil not only contains the natural infection fighting properties, but it also stimulates detoxification in the body by pulling out toxins. The most effective way to use castor oil for healing most illnesses is using castor oil packs.
Applying castor oil packs can bring relief and healing to a number of conditions. Some of it’s more common uses include:
- Relieves chronic pain and tension by decreasing inflammation
- Restores proper digestion and bowel elimination when used over the abdomen
- Alleviates cramps during menstrual cycles
- Can heal ovarian cysts and fibroids
- Naturally detoxifies the liver, kidneys, intestines, and lymph system
- Can eliminate both gallbladder and kidney stones
- Draws out infections
- Heals scars, cysts, and tumors
Using a castor oil pack is incredibly easy, but it can get a bit messy. Be sure and wear older clothes when using the packs. You will need:
- A soft, clean, thick material like flannel, wool, or cotton (organic is best)
- Castor oil
- A glass bowl or glass jar that you can pour the castor oil in over your material
- A hot water bottle or heating pad
- A plastic bag (I find kitchen or regular garbage bags work best)
- A large towel
You first want to prepare your fabric. You will need at least 2 layers of the material you choose. Cut the fabric to size according the the area you are going to be covering. Next, cut a layer from the plastic that is slightly bigger than the fabric. This is to cover the oily fabric and keep it from getting oil everywhere. Saturate the fabric in castor oil. Make sure it is fully saturated, but not dripping. Apply the castor oil fabric over the area you are treating and cover with the plastic. Next, place the heating pad or hot water bottle on top. Finally, cover the entire thing with a towel. Leave in place an hour to an hour and a half.
Remember to always place the castor oil packs over the affected area you want to treat. For example, If you want to break up gallstones, put the pack over the gallbladder. If you want to detoxify the liver, place it over the liver. The castor oil soaks deep into the bodies tissues, to the affected area to do it’s job. If you put it in the wrong place, then it won’t give you the results you’re looking for!
Nature’s the Best Medicine
Although many of these natural remedies may seem completely out of the box compared to what you’re used to, they work! These are not snake oil remedies, but rather tried and true methods that have healed many over the centuries! It may sound cliche, but nature truly has the best medicines.
Stop bombarding your bodies with chemical based medicines from the drugstore and give one of these unique cures a shot! You will be surprised how much better you feel and how quickly you will recover.
Amanda Box is a Doctor of Naturopathy and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 10 years and currently has a Naturopathic consulting practice in Sioux Falls, SD. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic doctor to turn to for your personal needs, Dr. Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.