In the not so distant past, taking care of health was a part of everyday life and disease or major injury the uncommon occurrence demanding strong intervention. Taking care of oneself as well as ones’ family was most often deemed part of a mother’s repertoire, and she would hone her knowledge from her mother and grandmother.

Little things, a tummy ache, toothache, bruise or scratch were problems every home remedy cabinet could handle. Seeing the doctor was for the big things like setting broken bones, high fevers and chronic illness.

This week for the alternative health lecture, I’ll be talking about some of the natural remedies that can be used for easing the little discomforts of life.

Natural remedies are most often used as preventative care. By caring for oneself, the slight sniffle doesn’t become an upper respiratory infection. The first sign of a headache, rather than a signal to reach for the pain killer, might simply suggest a need to slow down, exhale deeply or take notice of what happens as a result of skipping too many meals or eating too many sweets.

A natural remedy might be a cup of warm broth, electrolytes in the form of a squeezed lemon or orange in fresh water, or chewing a fresh sprig of peppermint.

Different from over-the-counter synthetic products, natural remedies work by supporting, building or balancing. They do not mask symptoms, but offer comfort and most importantly provide restorative measures. By stimulating the body’s own ability to heal, natural remedies may increase the body’s inherent resiliency and recovery time.

Everyday problems such as bruises, sprains low-grade fever and burns respond well to natural remedies. In her book “Family Herbal: A Guide to Living Life with Energy, Health and Vitality,” Rosemary Gladstar, a nationally known author and herbalist, offers a guideline for using natural remedies.

Most illnesses, imbalances and injuries respond well to nourishment, rest and gentle natural treatments. If your body does not respond in an appropriate manner or does not respond quickly enough for the situation, consult a medical practitioner and of course in a crisis or life-threatening situation get yourself to a hospital or emergency clinic as quickly as possible,” she says in the book.

Having a cup of fresh dried herbal tea can re-establish calm any time during a busy day. Putting your feet up and massaging the legs with a soothing or stimulating balm can relieve muscle tension and increase blood flow for both young and old. A warm salt and baking soda bath can be refreshing and restore one’s spirits for the day ahead or help to sleep deeply through the night.

Simple remedies gathered at home or purchased can help heal a cut, sooth a skinned knee or relieve a patch of poison oak.

Knowing how to handle a baby teething a first tooth, a toddler’s first signs of a cold, a young woman’s pre-menstrual cramps, a gardener’s blistered callous or an elder’s upset stomach — these are the wisdom of both parenthood and community-sharing, not medicine.

It is what we can do for ourselves and our families that cost little and can go along way to experiencing health as our everyday norm and recognizing that our everyday dis-ease is simply a small imbalance.

Liz Koch is the Way of Life Health Educator. You can contact her at

If You Go