Do you remember when you were a kid and your mom would say, “Wear your coat and scarf so you don’t catch a cold!” And after not listening to your mother, the ensuing days included hot chicken soup and lots of Vick’s vapor rub on your chest and maybe soles of your feet. While these home remedies are steeped in tradition, many have been validated through scientific studies. Additionally, I’m seeing in my patient population a keen interest in knowing more about these time-honored remedies. Let’s explore some of these.
To level set, our ancestors relied on plants, berries, herbs, etc. from the earth to combat illnesses and to maintain a strong and healthy constitution. Elderberry jam was a favorite of many especially during the cold, wintery months. They knew that this berry helped maintain a strong immune system especially during more susceptible months. Fast forward today and elderberry syrup is sold as a supplement to strengthen our immune system. I highly recommend elderberry to all my patients during the Fall and Winter season. Science reveals that the elderberry is rich in antioxidants known as anthocyanins. This deep purple berry also has antiviral properties that may actually prevent the common cold/flu or at least reduce the severity. Your takeaway is to supplement daily with elderberry syrup especially during Fall and Winter. I would also suggest taking this supplement before and after air travel.
My dad’s ancestors would make their own sourkraut. As a kid, I thought this was strange and “yucky.” Today I realize they were making their own probiotic food source. Probiotics was not part of their vernacular but they knew it was good for gut health. Today, consumers are bombarded with probiotic supplements and beverages. You should consider eating fermented foods on a regular basis to help maintain your intestinal health which includes supplying your body with good bacteria.
When it comes to pain, the use of a castor oil pack was common before the days of Bengay type products. In fact, castor oil is referred to as palma Christi (i.e., the palm of Christ). This cathartic oil can bring pain relief when applied topically. A castor oil pack is simply a cotton cloth saturated in castor oil and applied to the pain area. Cover the cloth with a heating pad for about 30 minutes or so. You can do this to any painful area on the body. Taking an Epsom Salt bath is also very helpful including detoxification of the body. One caveat is diabetics should not take an Epsom Salt bath.
In ancient times, Roman soldiers would put silver coins in their water as a way to keep the water fresh and less susceptible to bacteria/viruses. They knew that silver was anti-viral. Today many consumers use colloidal silver orally as well as in a diffuser for its anti-viral properties. If consuming colloidal silver, it’s important that you buy a reputable brand and strictly follow dosage requirements.
Finally, one of the best home based remedies is a good night’s rest! Restorative sleep is critical for maintaining homeostasis in the body by restoring organ function and facilitation of waste removal. There are certain behavioral components you should follow to help ensure a good night’s rest. These include no electronic devices in your bedroom, no eating two hours before bedtime, no stimulant drinks and going to bed around the same time each day (sorry but this includes weekends as well).
As a society what’s new is old and what’s old is new. Our elders and ancestors were not born in the digital age and so they relied on folklore and traditions. Their wisdom should be honored. Remember, a better informed healthcare consumer results in better outcomes. Here’s to your health!
Kevin Decot, L.Ac., Dipl. Acu.
Note: Kevin is an ambassador volunteer for Resurrecting Lives Foundation. He has 35 years of corporate experience including wellness strategy for a Fortune 100 company. He currently has an acupuncture practice in Marysville, Oh where he routinely treats veterans.