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Kitchen Cupboard Remedies

Please send your own Kitchen Cupboard Remedies to for inclusion in this section.

As a trained nurse with three adult children and 35 years in professional health care, I have been exposed to all sorts of situations where medicine of any kind has been unavailable for some reason or another. On these occasions I have been deeply grateful for knowing how to use methods taught to me as a young traditionally trained nurse at Guy's Hospital in London and at home as the eldest of five children by my mother, how to alleviate pain and suffering using ordinary household equipment and staple foods. Even when medicine is available it is not the only way of relieving symptoms. Hands on care is always welcome - all hands are healing if there is a willingness to learn!

The humble onion

Always useful:
with any infection throats ears chest - cut an onion in half and leave by bedside over night. Seems to counteract the infection.
boil an onion in milk and take it before sleeping. It seems to get rid of excess mucus in the system
cut up an onion and put it in a saucer covered in honey preferably. If not available use brown sugar or white if no brown! The juices from the onion will combine with the honey/sugar and make an excellent cough linctus which can be left on the kitchen table and be taken whenever needed. The onion pieces do not need to be eaten. It breaks the most stubborn hard cough and helps bring up the mucus.-
take out the pip of an onion - put it in hot water then place in the outer ear canal. This can be done with a sliver of garlic instead. It will calm down the inflammation and soothe the pain

Throat infections are a common complaint.

In the UK an old remedy is to toast a thick slice of bread and pour vinegar over it. Put it in an old sock and wrap it round the neck.

Olive oil

In the Mediterranean countries it is common practice to use olives for many treatments. The therapeutic effects of olive oil are well known. The olives are mashed and warmed and put in an old sock and wrapped round a sore throat or made into a poultice applied locally (see notes on other poultices).
Babies are often wrapped in warmed olive oiled cloths especially if they are born small, underweight or ailing in any way.

Thyme baths for respiratory complaints

Take a few teaspoons of dried or fresh thyme and infuse in 1 pint or 1/2 litre of boiling water. Let it infuse for 5 minutes. Strain into bath or footbath or bowl for inhalation. The steam from the thyme will help reduce any spasm in the lungs - so good in an asthma attack - and will greatly relieve any chest pain or hard, painful cough.The patient often breaks out into a healing sweat after this and sleeps well. I used this on my asthmatic baby son for years. His two cousins of the same age are now chronic asthmatics dependent on inhalers - he needs nothing.

Mustard Baths 

For colds, feverishness and most especially, aching joints and muscles after a long day in the garden (or in my case, a long day pony trekking!).
Take two good handfulls of Coleman's mustard powder and mix well into as warm a bath as you can stand.  Then soak and let the heat of the mustard draw out the heat in the body.  Wrap up warmly and get immediately into a warm bed.  It really works - especially for over-exertion and stiff, aching muscles.  
Libby Armitage, Aldwick, West Sussex, UK.

Comfrey (Symphytum)

Comfrey is a herbal heal-all.With lung complaints it is useful as a cream or poultice on the chest and is complemented and more effective if the soles of the feet are likewise covered with the comfrey. It is particularly helpful in childhood whooping cough.Comfrey leaves made into a poultice - ie. take a handful of leaves and pour boiling water over them. Apply directly to wound/infection as hot as patient can tolerate and bandage into place over night. I have healed many infections in this way without the use of antibiotics.

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