Health and Fitness

Who Knew? Six International Folk Remedies for Common Ailments

See how different cultures tackle the most common ailments, naturally.


Sore throats

In the Ukraine, many people relive sore throats by gargling every two hours with a glass of hot water mixed with a tablespoon or so each of honey and vinegar. While it isn’t the tastiest elixir, vinegar works as an astringent to clear secretions and restore PH balance, and it discourages bacteria growth. Honey is an anti-inflammatory. (This one really works! I use it all the time)


Body Odor

Italian women stay sweet smelling with baking soda. Rub enough water into a few tbsp of baking soda to make a paste and apply directly under your armpits for five minutes. Then rinse. If a shower is out of the question, leave a thin layer of paste directly on your armpits. Sodium bicarbonate acts as a magnet for odors, says Dr. Charles E. Cruchfield III, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Minesota.


Minor Burns

Hortensia Garcia, a mexico native now living in Corona California says her mother used to mash a tomato and apply it directly to minor burns. Then she’d cover the mash with bandages to prevent scarring. Although he hasn’t tried this on his patients, Crutchfield speculates that there are several ingredients that may help:vitamin C, vitamin A, and phytonutrients all work to heal the wound. Jim LaValle, a pharmacist and author of Smart Medicine for Healthier Living, says spreading honey once a day on a minor burn is a terrific natural way to treat it. A recent New Zealand study found that a type of honey native to that country prevented infection beter than antibiotics.



Women in the northeast African nation of Eritrea often apply a facial mask of avocado, egg yolks, and honey to beak blemishes. LaValle speculates this mix might work because eggs are rich in vitamin A, or retinol, which helps heal skin. Honey helps kill bacteria cells by dehydrating them, and avocado moisturizes skin.
Be mindful of which part of the egg you use. Use egg whites only on oily skin; they act as an astringent. Use the yolk – high in fats and other helpful compounds – if you have dry skin. Dr. Bita Bagheri, a dermatologist in Riverside, California, advises using only pasteurized eggs in the mixture to eliminate the risk of salmonella. To make, mash and mix one avocado, the egg park suited to your needs, and about one tablespoon honey. Then apply to your face and leave on for 5-10 minutes. Add to your weekly routine or when you feel an outbreak coming on.


Muscle Aches

The use of cayenne as both spice and medicine originated in Latin America, and clinicial studies have show it can ease sore muscles. Cayenne contains capsaicin, which works by overstimulating nerves, decreasing their ability to carry pain signals. To use this potent spice, buy some capsules to cayenne from a natural food store and follow package directions. Or buy an over the counter cream that contains capsaicin. You may feel a burning or itching sensation for the first few times you use the cream, but this typically goes away.


Nasal congestion

The next time you have a stuffy nose, try this old Russian remedy: in a bowl, juice one clove of garlic with a press, add half a teaspoon honey, and squeeze out the inside of one aloe vera leaf. Then soak two cotton balls in the mixture and insert them loosely into your nostrils for about five minutes. Garlic has powerful antibacterial properties (it was used to fight soldier’s infections in WWII when no antibiotics were handy). Honey also is antibacterial and works as an astringent. The aloe moisturizes sore nasal tissue. Take note” Steel yourself for this remedy, because the smell of raw garlic juice can be a little hard to handle.


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