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Natural remedies that work

SheKnows Canada unearthed some simple remedies for common ailments that really are effective. Skip that trip to the drugstore, and start reading.

Chicken soup and other remedies
Chicken soup

Chicken soup

Grandma’s best remedy for the common cold — chicken soup — really does actually help when you have a cold. It’s more than the mere warmth of the soup. Research has found that chicken soup contains ingredients that help prevent the movement of neutrophils. Neutrophils are released in our body in greater numbers when we have a cold, and this triggers the development of mucous. That mucous is what gives you that stuffy nose and congestion. So get out your favourite chicken soup recipe, and get cooking!


Whether you drape your head with a towel and hang it over a pot of hot water, take a steamy shower, visit a steam room or hammam spa, or simply press a hot cloth to your face, steam really does open up pores, which can make it easier for you to release trapped dirt, oil and bacteria. Follow with a cleanser that contains salicylic acid, which will help clear out debris from your pores. Leave extractions to a professional aesthetician, though. If you apply pressure incorrectly, you may end up scarring your skin.

Fruit and fibre

Adjusting your diet to include more fibre-rich foods will help ease the occasional bout of constipation. Consult your doctor, but in general we need about 30 grams of fibre daily. You can find it in such sources as whole grains, vegetables, fruit and legumes. Try to eat the whole vegetables and fruits (rather than juices), as you want the roughage from eating them whole (not just the liquid squeezed out of them).

Epsom salts

Soaking in a warm bath with about 3 cups of Epsom salts — which are high in magnesium — is a surefire way to treat aching or strained muscles. This works particularly well after a massage, as the salts will draw out the newly released lactic acids (that lactic acid is what causes your muscles to feel sore and tired).

Olive oil

Applying olive oil to chapped lips will soften them just as well as drugstore products, some of which actually dry out the lips more. A few drops of warmed olive oil also does wonders for an earache! And if the ends of your hair seem dry, simply rub in a few drops, and let the oil soak into your parched mane (best to do this at home when you’re not planning to head out, as it may leave your hair looking and feeling a bit greasy).


A mashed avocado applied to dry skin will help hydrate and protect it, because it contains vitamins A, D and E — all powerful antioxidants you’ll find in many face creams. Avocado is a mega-moisturizer because of its high fat content. Important: Avocado is toxic to pets.

Warm milk or tea with honey

Soothes coughs and sore throats effectively. As a bonus, it will help you drift off to sleep! That’s because when milk is warmed, it activates a chemical called tryptophan, which induces sleep. (Tryptophan is also found in turkey, which is why you may find yourself feeling dozy after your Thanksgiving dinner!) As for tea, camomile tea in particular is renowned for its soothing and slumber-inducing benefits.


A handy treatment for bee stings! After removing the stinger carefully with tweezers, apply ice directly to the bee sting to cool the skin and ease that nasty, burning pain. The ice will also keep the swelling down. Another use for ice? Take an ice bath after a vigorous workout. It’s said to help your tired body by evenly constricting your muscles, tendons, bones and nerves.


Chewing parsley will neutralize bad breath because it contains chlorophyll, an antiseptic. Parsley may also reduce gas and help with digestion. Can’t wrap your head around just chewing on some parsley? Incorporate it into your salads, garnish your mains with it or focus on eating dishes that include much of this herb, such as tabbouleh.


The sweet red ropes in the candy display won’t help you, but licorice root, which is found at health food stores, can be boiled to make a tea. When infused with honey, the tea makes an excellent remedy for an annoying cough. Bonus: It is also said to help increase energy, which you probably need if you’ve been worn down with a cough.


Drinking cranberry juice or taking concentrated cranberry capsules will help prevent bladder infections, which are caused by bacteria. A substance in the cranberry prevents infection-causing bacteria from attaching itself to the bladder wall. In fact, researchers have found that in as quickly as eight hours, drinking the juice can help prevent bacteria from developing into a urinary tract infection. If you’re prone to UTIs, it might be a good idea to keep a jug of this in your fridge and drink it regularly.

More tips to stay healthy

Reduce allergies at home
How to tell if your food is fresh
How to get kids to wash their hands

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