Herbal Remedies

I have always been extremely clumsy, accident prone, with a Ph.D. in the art of bad luck.

Now, before I sound like a complete hypochondriac, let’s briefly review a snippet of my track record, shall we?

In high school, I ended up in the hospital after my “friend” decided he would pick me up in the mall. The result? A dislocated patella. (Crazy girl side note: My kneecap ended up on the side of my leg, and despite the excruciating pain, I refused to let the nurse cut my favorite pair of jeans. I mean, how hard is it to find the perfect pair of jeans? Don’t judge me. It took me a year to heal and my knee was never the same).

In college, I ended up at the health center after an insane rash developed all over my body, only to be told by the doctor (and I use that term loosely) that I had scabies (which turned out to be untrue…how gross). I went to my primary care doctor, who was so shocked by the misdiagnosis that he literally knee-slap laughed in my face, all while bracing himself on the counter. I, in fact, was having my first allergic reaction in my life at age 18. Since that time, allergy medication has been my savior (I’m looking at you Claritin D).

Shortly after, I was attacked by my refrigerator (true story) in my dorm room. I will spare you the details, but that refrigerator was out to get me. After weeks of MRI’s and X-rays, I was eventually told my ACL pretty much no longer existed and I needed surgery. Lucky for me, this was the same leg I messed up previously, so it was proficient at being completely useless.

In short, I have a lot of hands-on experience being a patient. Let’s get to my point, shall we?

How many times have you gone to the doctor, handed over approximately 20-60 dollars for your co-pay (imagine how many cups of coffee you could purchase with that still in your pocket…), only to be told one of the following statements.

Here, take this Z-Pack.

Here, try this (enter any steroid, acne, skin cream here) and see what happens.

Oh, it is probably just stress.

Or my personal favorite…

If you still have pain in a year, come back and see me.

Don’t get me wrong, I know going to the doctor is a necessary part of life. I also know medication and medical research has helped improve the lives of many, heal those that need healing, and save the lives of loved ones. I don’t despise the medical profession, and I am not a liberal hippie cursing the corporate pharmaceutical companies for feeding the capitalist agenda (okay, so they are kind of  like legal drug dealers). In fact, my boyfriend’s mother is a doctor, who is extremely helpful, intelligent, kind, and always looking for an answer to any health woe that comes her way, whether through a natural cure or with the use of an appropriate medication.

But…a big but…

Some physician’s just straight up suck.

We have all been in a situation where a doctor prescribes you a medication because they have no idea what is wrong with you and pretends to care about your overall well-being, all while never making eye contact with you or taking the time to actually understand your symptoms.

In a way, I understand. We live in a culture where if you take a pill, your problem is fixed. Oh you’re depressed? Take a pill. Oh, you have acne? Here, try this prescription face wash. Oh, you need to shed some pounds? Diet pills are the answer! Even schools and some employers require a doctor’s note, forcing you to trek over to your primary care doctor.

In my quest to heal some of my health problems, I realized that not everything requires a pill or a visit to my doctor. For example, recently I learned that many health issues can even be correlated to allergies, forcing you to change your environment and even your diet (hence why I will be going gluten free, future posts shall follow).

Because I know many people in my life suffer from similar health problems, I thought I would share my top three herbal remedies that I use on a regular, and almost daily, basis. Please keep in mind that I am obviously not a doctor and before trying any of these remedies, do your own research. Some people have this misconception that because something is “herbal” “organic” “natural” that it is safe. NOT TRUE. Anything you put in or on your body could potentially have a side effect.

Turmeric

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Scientific name: Curcuma longa, Curcuma domestica

Turmeric is a miraculous spice that is grown in India and some tropical regions of Asia. The active ingredient in Turmeric is called curcumin. Not only is the color and taste of Turmeric used in food coloring and flavoring, but turmeric is also an antioxidant, and continues to undergo research for anti-cancer effects! How cool is that?

Why use it?

Well, besides the amazing superman cancer fighting powers, turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and can help relieve inflammation caused by arthritis and muscle sprains/aches. Turmeric also protects against liver diseases, reduces cholesterol, and my personal favorite, is a remedy for numerous digestive problems including irritable bowel syndrome, colitis,  and Crohn’s disease.

Ginger Root

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Scientific name: Zingiber officinale

Mmm Ginger…If you are a sushi lover, you have encountered this delicious herb. Originally cultivated in South Asia, the underground stem, also known as the rhizome, is used for both its edible and medicinal properties.  Ginger has similar uses as my previous friend Turmeric. It is primarily used to treat various types of stomach problems, but there is also evidence it provides pain relief for arthritis and muscle soreness, upper respiratory tract infections, and back/chest pain.

Just like Turmeric, ginger is an anti-inflamatory. Just pop a little ginger in your mouth when you’re feeling nauseous, and in about a half hour you will be up and running. Plus, I am giving you an excuse to go out and eat more sushi. Now I want sushi…

Tea Tree Oil

tea_tree_plant

Scientific/medical name(s): Melaleuca alternifolia

The most mysterious of the three, and probably the stinkiest, not many people have heard about the wonders of tea tree oil. It is an exctract from a plant native to Australia. Traditionally, tea tree oil was used as a topical antiseptic and antifungal treatment.

Tea tree oil is an effective treatment for acne, toenail fungus, eczema, and even gum disease (all of those super attractive things).

One of the coolest treatments I have heard of is the use of tea tree oil to combat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), which is resistant to most, if not all, antibiotic treatment. Research continues in this area.

Word of caution: Although all of the three natural remedies listed can have side effects, tea tree oil can cause severe allergic reactions and should never be ingested. Also, keep out of reach of animals. Not only is it toxic for some animals, but the smell can make them cuckoobananas. My one bengal cat, Nala, goes absolutely insane when she smells it. One whiff of that stuff and she starts drooling, sprinting, and bunny kicking anything she finds.

Sources:
Wedmd.com
Cancer.org
My own miraculous memory storage of wonders