The world of natural medicine can be intimidating. It can be difficult discerning the old wives tales from the legitimately useful, the safe from the scary. If you’re on the quest to try some less-chemically remedies, but don’t know where to start, hit your local natural foods or health store for the following three products. While the world of natural home-remedies is vast and multifaceted, these are a great way to safely and simply dip your toe in and test the waters before you jump into the ocean of building your own alternative medicine cabinet. Just remember that these are for minor ailments- treatment of serious illness should be conducted under the advisement of a trained professional.


Tea tree oil – Tea tree oil has antiseptic and antimicrobial qualities that make it a must-have for your medicine cabinet. Though it has a multitude of uses, tea tree oil (alias Melaleuca alternifolia) truly shines when battling acne. Though your brain might explode at the idea of putting oil ON your face to treat a breakout, tea tree oil has proven as effective as benzyl peroxide in defeating acne, with fewer undesirable side effects. Apply directly to breakouts and watch the magic happen. If it’s too harsh, add a little to your face wash or moisturizer. Beyond acne, tea tree oil is handy to dab on cuts or wounds to prevent infection. It has also proved effective in the treatment of athlete’s foot – try applying a mixture of tea tree oil and olive oil (or another moisturizer) to the effected area twice a day.


Ginger- Ayurvedic tradition, the ancient medical tradition of India, treats ginger as a virtual cure-all. The miracle root has a wealth of uses, but chances are you’ll be using it most to ease ailments of the stomach and head. Ginger helps relieve nausea, indigestion, motion sickness, headaches and cold symptoms. Some studies also credit its anti-inflammatory properties with reducing joint pain, including arthritis. Make an easy, simple ginger tea to relieve colds, headaches and nausea by steeping chopped fresh ginger root in boiling water. Optional but worthwhile add-ins include turmeric (reduces inflammation), lemon (to clear sinuses) and honey or agave nectar (to coat a sore throat and make pungent ginger go down easy). Candied or crystalized ginger is great to throw in your bag for a quick nausea, motion sickness, or headache cure – you’ll feel better as soon as you pop one in your mouth.


Coconut oil- If you do a Google search for coconut oil uses, long, long lists by coconut enthusiasts will fill your browser, some of them enumerating more than a hundred ways to employ this versatile product. For starters, it’s a fantastic moisturizer. It defrizzes hair, rehydrates elbows, and soothes chapped lips. Basically, it’s a natural beauty miracle. Coconut oil is also the star player in the Ayurvedic practice of oil pulling, which removes bacteria from the mouth, proving highly beneficial for oral health. Put a tablespoon of oil in your mouth, swish for 10- 20 minutes, spit it out, and rinse with warm salty water. Brush your teeth, and start the day fresh and clean. Just make sure you choose your oil carefully – only coconut oil with modified enzymes proved effectively antimicrobial in recent studies.


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