I hate taking medicine (aside from taking my daily multivitamin). I don't like going to the doctor either, unless I'm really sick or need a checkup. In general, I've always been relatively healthy, and since I don't have any health conditions that require daily medication, I try to get my nutrients as best as I can via fruits and veggies.
Yet, sometimes, there are just some things you can't avoid. Catching a cold from someone or getting a rash from inadvertently brushing against poison ivy can really be annoying.
In recent years, I've done a lot of homework on natural remedies that don't require running to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription or over-the-counter med. Believe it or not, some of the best items you can use to heal yourself are right in your kitchen.
Here are some of the non-medical things I've used personally to treat certain ailments. Please note: I am not a doctor or certified health practitioner. I'm just someone who has tried these methods and they have actually worked for me!
Salt for a sore throat
OK, this one has been a tried-and-true remedy that I've used forever. I have my mom's voice in my head every time: "Get the salt, get the salt!"
Anytime I had a sore throat, Mom always said to get a cup of warm water and pour some salt in it. Stir it up and gargle with it until you've gone through the entire cup. The salt soothes the itchiness that usually comes with a sore throat, and and it feels cleansing as well.
Apple cider vinegar for poison ivy
When I was a kid, you'd swear poison ivy loved me. I could be several feet away from the stuff and somehow, I'd end up with a rash on my arm or leg. We used to use calamine lotion for it, and it always seemed to take forever to go away.
Now, as an adult, I'm extremely careful of staying away from areas that have ivy, and wear long-sleeved shirts and pants if I'm going to be in any wooded areas. However, last year, I ended up somehow getting a rash on my arm (I must have come into contact with the oils of the plant, as I wasn't near one). I'd used poison ivy washes and calamine lotion as mentioned in the past, but it never seemed to go away quite as quickly as I wanted.
I did some digging and found that some people use apple cider vinegar as an alternative way of getting rid of poison ivy. I always have that in my pantry, so I figured, why not?
Dabbing some ACV on a cotton round, I patted the ivy rash on my arm and it felt so cool and soothing! It was the best feeling of relief I'd ever experienced with poison ivy. I did that two to three times a day, and it was gone within a week.
Baking soda for... a lot of things
Baking soda has become one of my best friends for poison ivy, too. In addition to the apple cider vinegar treatment, I would use the baking soda right afterwards, and it seemed to help to rid ivy even faster. I just put a few tablespoons of baking soda into a small bowl and added a splash of water. (You want the consistency to be almost like toothpaste.) I dabbed the affected area with the paste, and let it dry. You'll know it's ready to remove when it cakes up and starts to fall off a bit in chunks on its own. Then, rinse off with cold running water. It's very soothing, like the vinegar.
In addition to poison ivy, baking soda has been excellent in soothing my skin irritations. If my skin feels irritated somehow, I've soaked the affected area in a baking soda bath. When my foot reacted badly to a new lotion, I sprinkled it in warm water, dunked my foot in there for about 10 minutes or so, and pat dry. It offers instant relief.
Baking soda is also a great stain-removing alternative when washing clothes if your skin is sensitive to bleach. One day while waiting at the dentist's office, I was chatting with some of the hygienists in the office and we randomly started talking about getting stains out of clothing. One suggested baking soda — she said that it's even better than bleach and doesn't leave any residue, especially on white clothing.
Of course, I had to try it for myself, so when I had a load of laundry that needed to be washed, I put in a bit of detergent and sprinkled some baking soda right onto the clothes. I had one pair of pants that had a juice stain on it that hadn't come out quite yet after several washes, so that was the true test. Once the load was finished, I started looking for those pants, and guess what? The stain was GONE, and my sensitive skin was happy. I couldn't believe it!
The same hygienist that suggested baking soda for clothes also mentioned that a family member of hers used to brush his teeth with baking soda alone, and he rarely, if ever, had cavities. I haven't tested it myself — just putting it out there that folks have used it for that purpose.
Cornstarch for skin irritation and moisture absorption
Cornstarch works similarly to baking soda in the skin-irritation department. You can also create a "toothpaste" the same way as the baking soda by using a few tablespoons of cornstarch and water. It's another soothing method and backup to baking soda.
Cornstarch is especially great in warm months to absorb moisture. If you feel sweaty under your arms or feet, sprinkle some cornstarch in those areas to absorb the excess moisture and keep you cool from the summer heat. It helps to keep you dry and feel fresh.
These are just a few of the pantry items I've used for treating ailments and for everyday use. How about you? Do you ever use anything already in your kitchen cabinet for things like sore throats and skin irritation?