So, I’m in bed sick today with what would be characterized by the allopathic medical community as “Bronchitis”. Taking a more naturopathic/holistic view, one might say my body is detoxing or my immune levels have lowered, or even that my body has encountered organisms it has never met before and is self-adjusting. In any case, it has been quite an ordeal, and I had almost forgotten how horrible it is to have a cold with the sore throat, runny nose, and persistent cough that almost always accompanies it. Around company, I think the most embarrassing aspect is always having to find something to cough, spit, or hack phlegm into. Based on the recent ordeal of mine, I decided to try to recall the natural healing methods that have been effective in keeping chronic and acute illnesses at bay.
- Essential Oils – These have been miracle workers for me and my family. Congested? Make your own “vapo-rub” with eucalyptus, peppermint, and clove oils, about 4 to 10 drops of each added to 1 tsp. of coconut oil. I have not had athlete’s foot or jock itch for over 20 years now thanks to a natural effective remedy I came up with. Here it is: 10 drops each of peppermint and tea tree oils added to coconut oil, olive oil, or organic lotion
- Yoga/Stretching – What I am talking about here is a stretching routine consisting of about 6-12 exercises. This will warm up your body, increase blood flow, and help rejuvenate your energy by cycling oxygenated blood through all your organs. Many of the best stretches are so good that both bodybuilders and gymnasts have used them for years in their warm-up routines. Some good ones to do are:
- Forward Lunge
- Side Splits – Also called straddle split, this can be done from a horse-riding stance and eased into gently. Go until you feel tension, then drop down just about another inch. Hold this position for 30 seconds then repeat.
- Front Splits – Do this for both right and left legs.
- Horse-Riding Stance – Try to hold this for 2 minutes. If you can’t do 2 minutes yet, just go as long as you can and gradually work toward the 2 minute goal.
- Bodyweight Squats – Squats are one of the best exercises you can do for overall body health. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart, starting in a standing position, eyes facing directly in front of you, back straight up and down. Lower your bottom to it’s natural stopping position about 2 inches off the floor, keeping eyes ahead and back straight, then return to starting position. You can hold your hands in a upright prayer position, or place them on your shoulders. Either way is effective. It is important to go all the way down. My knees used to crack and make crunching and clicking sounds when I would bend down–even in my early twenties–, but I have discovered that by doing these weightless
- Straight-Leg Stretch – These are like straight-leg deadlifts except you only use your bodyweight. Stand with you legs together or as close as you can get them–this will help keep you from tipping over. Now raise your hands high above your head–reach to the sky with your fingertips. You should feel a slight stretch or tingling in the lower back. Then, keeping the knees straight, bend over, folding your body in half and let your arms hang. Your goal is to touch the ground with your fingertips while keeping your legs straight. Don’t worry if you can’t do it at first; just go down as far as you can. The most important part to is always keep your legs straight (do not bend your knees). I have personally found that heavy straight-leg deadlifts are a great way to help heal lower back pain. If you chose to do this, consult with a personal trainer or qualified medical professional first.
- Side Kicks – Side kicks are a great metric for your overall level of flexibility. If you can’t even lift your leg up and hold your knee bent at a 90 degree angle with your thigh parallel to the floor, then you will need to gradually work up to this level. If you want to maintain hip and joint flexibility and you have taken any martial arts, dance, or yoga classes, and you are already able to do side-kicks, then this will make more sense to you. Three side kicks to each side every morning will help maintain lower body flexibility with the least amount of effort.
- Headstands and Handstands – Our bodies can only go so long in one position without being fatigued. Most of us lie down, stand up, sit, twist and roll over (good dog!…lol), but very few of us as adults ever go upside-down regularly. By inverting our bodies we allow more blood to flow to our brains, which again allows more oxygen to feed our brain cells, and results in our brains and our mind functioning much better. Another good application of this is hanging upside down from a tree branch or monkey bar. Try to stay upside-down for about 3 minutes.
- Raw Honey – Raw honey, like coconut oil and olive oil, can be used as a delivery medium for your essential oils. But, one advantage of honey is that it is a natural antibiotic and delivers some micronutrients as well. While any honey is better than no honey, it is usually best to use the “raw” form. Raw honey has not been heated and hence retains a larger amount of vitality and usefulness as medicine than any of the processed kinds. If you visit a good organic store like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or New Seasons you might find a really good variety of raw honey. My experience has been the all seem to work the same.
- One additional benefit of raw honey is you can eat very little amounts of it for energy that will last you hours with no crash (see ya Red Bull). I remember one week when I was working one of my programming jobs and I needed a nutritious snack and didn’t want to buy any of the processed garbage in the vending machines, or fast food, etc., and I happened to have raw honey with me so I dipped my finger in and tasted it–it was delicious! I had been feeling lethargic for three days straight, but after eating the honey, I had so much energy. I ate honey every day that week. The really neat part is that–for whatever reason–raw honey is one sweetener that seems to heal teeth. I am not a licensed physician so this is not medical advice, but my own personal experience when I had a really bad cavity that was opened was that any sugar of any kind–soft drinks, ice cream, candy, pastries, sugar cookies, popsicles, etc.–severely irritated my tooth and sent a painful electrical shock sensation all through my mouth. But, raw honey had no effect. I realized this was probably related to the fact that honey is a natural antibiotic and healing salve. The only downside of honey is that anywhere you put it will be sticky, so make sure you adequately cover the area with something like tissue or a bandage.
- Grade B Organic Maple Syrup – Depending on the brand, grade B maple syrup currently runs between $15-$36 for a 32 oz. jug. This is the only other sweetener I have found that does not irritate cavities or other dental issues. Do not confuse this with “maple-flavored” pancake syrup like Mrs. Butterworth’s, Log Cabin, or Aunt Jemima–these are really just flavored corn syrup, and corn syrup, as we know, is anti-healthy.
- Alternating Hot and Cold – This is one that sounds scary, but that I found to be most effective for overall energy and lethargy, as well as spot healing of difficult to reach body areas. One effective implementation standing in a hot shower–as hot as you can stand it–for about 2 minutes, then turn all the hot water off quickly so all that is left is ice cold water. Remain in the cold shower for 2-3 minutes. This is about healing, not hygiene, so don’t use any soap or cleaning products. It may be a shock at first, but if you stick it out you will soon see how energized you feel. Repeat the cycle 3 times. What alternating hot and cold does it it circulates blood from to lowest level of your skin to top layer of skin and vice versa.
- Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Hemp Oil Soap
- Raw Juicing
- The Master Cleanse
- Water Fasting
- Aloe Gel
- Alternating Pushups/Situps
Well, I am getting exhausted from typing and so will have to stop now. Perhaps I can add some meat to the last few items later. Did you find this useful? If so, please leave a comment below! Do you have other simple natural cures that you think should have been on this list? If so, let me know in the comments below and I’ll try to incorporate them into a later version of this post. Maybe I’ll do a post on the next fad (not a comment on it’s effectiveness, just popularity) in natural healing you may soon start hearing about: Crown of Thorns Extract. More research is needed…
Blessings and Prosperous Journeys,
Portland, OR – 02/02/14