No matter how healthy your lifestyle, minor ailments and wellness challenges are an unfortunate, annoying fact of life. It’s why just about everyone has that mystery medicine cabinet, overflowing with all kinds of treatments to get us through sniffles, headaches, bug bites, allergy season, and sleepless nights. But before you open it, we’ve rounded up some drug-free ways to tackle common complaints. Even better, some of them are delicious!
Lemon Water Digestion Booster
While chronic stomach issues are definitely cause to see your doctor, many of us experience the occasional annoyances of heartburn, sluggishness, and bloating. To keep your digestive system on track, shelve that morning coffee and brew up some hot water with lemon instead. Despite the acidity, lemons are an alkaline source when absorbed by the body, which helps balance your pH levels. They also contain a powerful antioxidant called d-limonene, as well as sky-high vitamin C. Combine the juice of half a lemon with 1/3 cup boiling water and 1/4 cup cold water and drink on an empty stomach.
A Bug Bite Soother in Your Fridge
No matter the precautions you take, from citronella candles and bug spray to window screens, bug bites can be inescapable. To relieve the itching and burning naturally, simply head to the fridge. Milk contains enzymes that help neutralize the venom in bug bites, and proteins that soothe the skin: soak a cotton ball in equal parts milk and water, and dab it on the sore spot. Should these be vacation problems, know that this is also an effective treatment for sunburn. (Cleopatra was onto something.)
Nighttime Breathing Aid
There are a number of things that can keep us awake at night, from a mattress that has seen better days to an upcoming deadline to an irregular bedtime. But have you thought about a basic factor like your breathing? Nighttime nasal congestion affects more than just snorers, and is made worse by colds, allergies, or a deviated septum. So before you reach for a drug-based solution for sleeplessness, try Breathe Right® Nasal Strips. They are clinically proven to relieve nasal congestion, helping you breathe better so you can sleep better — with none of the groggy side-effects of sleep meds.
Meditation For Concentration
Between our phones, nonstop emails, and more TV options than we know what to do with, decreasing concentration spans are a side effect of modern life. It’s natural for our minds to wander, but if it feels like yours has its own passport, a daily meditation practice can help you regain focus. Find a quiet, comfortable spot and set a timer (five minutes is a good start). Concentrate on your breath and an additional aspect like your heartbeat, or a spot on the wall or floor, and try to quiet all other thoughts. It’s normal for your first few sessions to feel extremely challenging, but soon you'll be feeling much more zen.
Peppermint Sinus Opener
It’s no coincidence that many commercial balms and inhalers for blocked sinuses contain mint. It’s a natural decongestant for the sinuses, throat, and nose, and the fresh leaves smell delicious. To get the benefits naturally, inhale the steam from a bowl of boiled leaves, or steep 15 leaves in two cups of freshly boiled water for an invigorating cup of tea that can be poured over ice or slightly sweetened with honey.
Local Honey For Allergies
The tell-tale sniffles, headaches, itchy eyes, and red noses of seasonal allergies make sufferers raid drugstore shelves for relief. But there is a natural and much sweeter way to tackle them before the season ramps up: eating a tablespoon of local honey every day. Much in the same way that allergy shots reduce sensitivity, the theory goes that ingesting local honey helps minimize the allergic effects of pollen at peak allergy season. While there’s no guarantee that local bees will make honey from the particular pollen that you are allergic to, best-case scenario is that you’re replacing sugar with a natural, delicious sweetener. Worth a try!
Hot Headache Compress
Before you pop a pill for a headache, go straight to the source of the pain with a relaxing and fragrant tea compress. Chamomile, lavender, and green tea compresses are all known to ease tension headaches. Make a tea, then allow it to cool to a comfortable temperature. Dip a washcloth in the tea and wring it until there are no drips, then sit back and relax with the cloth placed across your forehead and eyes.
Kale: The Cold and Flu Fighter
There’s no “cure” for the common cold or the flu virus, but you can speed up your recovery and mitigate their most miserable symptoms with an immune-boosting superfood like kale. Dark, leafy greens are your best friend when your immune system is compromised, thanks to high levels of antioxidants like vitamin C and glutathione, as well as folic acid, which helps the body produce and maintain cells. But don’t wait for cold and flu season to hit: load up on kale, spinach, swiss chard, and collard greens all year to keep your immune system in tip-top shape.
Credits: Photography: Diggy Lloyd; Art Direction: Shanna Greenberg; Prop Styling: Martha Bernabe; Wardrobe: Erin Turon; HMU: Brett Jackson; Production: Andi Nash