Herbs and Natural Remedies You Should Keep on Hand

Activated Charcoal: For acute use in food poisoning, intestinal illness, vomiting, diarrhea, ingestion of toxins, etc. Also keep the local poison control number on hand in case a child ingests a toxic substance and immediately take a child to the hospital if he/she has swallowed a battery or magnet!

Arnica– Topical creme used for muscle pain or injury, bruises or any type of trauma. It has been found that it greatly reduces healing time or bruises and sore muscles when used topically right after injury. Not for internal use or use on open cuts.

Cayenne Powder– Though this is a good addition to many foods, it is even better to have in a medicine cabinet. You can even keep a few cayenne capsules with you at all times. Topically, cayenne powder helps stop bleeding rapidly. There are even cases on record of it being taken internally during heart attacks to increase blood flow and help clear blockage. It is also a useful remedy to take internally during illness as it increases blood flow and speeds recovery.

Chamomile– The dried flowers can be made into a poultice with some gauze and placed on an eye for 15 minutes every hour to reverse pinkeye rapidly (usually works in a couple of hours). Brewed as a tea, chamomile is a relaxing drink at night and the tea can be cooled and rubbed on the stomach of colicky infants to help sooth them. Brewed chamomile tea can be added to your bath as it is great for the skin and promotes relaxation.

Comfrey-An external herb that promotes healing from injuries and broken bones. A poultice made with plantain and comfrey that is placed on a wound can greatly reduce the healing time and help prevent and reverse infection.

Eucalyptus Herb and Essential Oil– It works well for respiratory type problems whether in a face steam for congestion or sinus troubles or as a petroleum free version of Vapo-Rub for coughing and respiratory illness. The essential oil can be diluted with coconut oil or olive oil and be applied externally to the feet and chest to help open nasal passageways.

Ginger Capsules– Ginger is great for nausea, reflux, stomach trouble and morning sickness. It helps sooth the stomach after a digestive illness or food poisoning.

Peppermint Herb and Essential Oil– Another great digestive herb. For upset stomach or digestive illness, the herb is made into a tea. The tincture can be used internally or externally for headache or digestive troubles and when combine with a few other digestive herbs, it makes a highly effective digestive aid and nausea remedy. The essential oil applied behind the ears and on the feet helps alleviate headache or nausea and a weak tea made from the herb and rubbed on the skin can help sooth a colicky baby.

Plantain– Good to have the loose herb on hand. It actually grows in most places in the summer. You’ve probably pulled it as a weed without knowing it.  It is a natural remedy for poison ivy, cuts, scrapes and bites. You can keep the dried herb on hand at all times to make into a poultice for bites, stings, cuts and infection.

Slippery Elm– Helpful for sore or irritated throat or when you lose your voice. These lozenges taste great and are helpful for kids with sore throats. The herb itself can be used in tinctures or teas for sore throat relief.

Other Remedies:

Apple Cider Vinegar– Keep a bottle of organic Apple Cider Vinegar with “the mother” on hand for digestive troubles, indigestion, food poisoning and more. Taken in a dose of 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces of water every hour, it helps shorten the duration of any type of illness, though it is tough to get kids to take it willingly.

Vitamin C– Helpful for all illnesses, but especially flu-related illnesses.

Aloe Vera Plant– Great to have one growing in the house for burns and blisters.

Epsom Salt– Good as a bath soak for sore muscles. Dissolved in water, it can also be a good soak to help remove splinters.

Hydrogen Peroxide– It is great for cleaning out wounds, and can help prevent ear infection and shorten duration of respiratory illness. At the first sign of ear infection or illness a dropperful of Hydrogen Peroxide can be put in the ear. The person then leaves the peroxide in for 15 minutes or until it stops bubbling and repeats on the other side.

Vitamin Waters

Today just saying water is far from describing a hydrating, tasteless clear fluid. Now there are also many “enhanced” water products, such as Skinny Water, Vitaminwater, Propel Fitness water, and Smartwater.

vitamin-water1When they were sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) for deceptive marketing, Coca-Cola, the maker of Vitaminwater, defended its product by saying, “No consumer could reasonably be misled into thinking Vitaminwater was a healthy beverage.” This defense seems to suggest that the word “vitamin” doesn’t imply nutrients.

Why would water need anything added to it, and what is added? At the vending machine, when faced with a bottle of soda and a bottle of water with “benefits,” is one a better choice than the other? Let’s take a closer look.

The line of Vitaminwater products has 120 calories per 20-fl oz bottle, and 31 to 32 g of sugar. To use a comparison, a can of Coca-Cola has 39 g of sugar. To top it off, many of these products have more than just one sweetener added. Look at the ingredients and you will see items that also mean “sugar”, such as crystalline fructose, or dextrose. For some low-cal or zero-cal lines such as SoBe Lifewater, the sweetener of choice is erythritol, a sugar alcohol which has very little caloric value.

Many of these water products have coloring added. Some use vegetable or fruit juice concentrates, while others such as SoBe Lifewater Yumberry Pomegranate use cochineal extract, which can be an allergen for some individuals. Some bottled water, like SoBe Lifewater with Coconut Water – Mango Mandarin flavor, contains caramel color.

skinny-water-shapeSkinny Water markets itself as having “0 calories, 0 sugar, 0 guilt.” What it does have, however, is two artificial sweeteners – acesulfame potassium and sucralose. These two artificial sweeteners often appear as a pair, such as in the Aquafina FlavorSplash and Propel Zero product lines.

“Natural flavors” is a frequent addition to ingredient lists, and there is no way to tell what it actually means, if anything.

Propel Fitness Water has the preservative potassium sorbate added, while Aquafina FlavorSplash uses sodium benzoate and calcium disodium EDTA.

propel-waterYou will find unusual-sounding additives such as sodium hexametaphosphate, gum acacia, and glycerol ester of rosin. These types of additives are often found in citrus- or fruit-flavored beverages and function as an emulsifier. Why an emulsifier? The flavoring ingredient in these drinks is most often an oil-based compound. The emulsifier prevents the flavoring oil from separating out and floating atop the water, so the drink tastes consistent from start to finish. 

Depending on the product, these bottles of flavored water have different ingredients added. Typically among these is a selection of vitamins or some minerals such as magnesium, potassium, or zinc. The name of the drink hints at the intended benefits. For example, Vitaminwater’s “energy” has B vitamins and guarana added. The product “multi-v” has several vitamins added as well as some minerals. 

The bottom line is, the main fluid you use for hydration should still be water, not water with coloring, sugar, and artificial flavors added. The amount of vitamins or minerals you would get from drinking a bottle of flavored water isn’t worth the additives that tag along. If you are also trying to be environmentally conscious, drinking plain water in a reusable water bottle generates less waste than multiple plastic bottles of flavored water.

Get your vitamins and minerals mostly from the foods you eat. Drinking a bottle of flavored water does not replace eating fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain much more than the list of nutrients that fit on a Nutrition Facts label. In fact, research is finding that it is the synergy among all the different phytonutrients and vitamins/minerals within plant foods that matters more, rather than single individual vitamins or minerals.