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Our grandmothers’ pharmacies often include items from . . . the pantry! In fact, most of them seem to have natural remedies (often stemming from plants) for almost every ache and pain imaginable. Here are a few at-home remedies that actually work and that are sure to help keep you fit and healthy all winter long.

To sooth a cough

Yes, honey remains a must for sore and hoarse throats, given its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and healing properties. But mixed with the power of thyme, the result is a surprisingly effective remedy, the latter acting as a natural cough syrup that relaxes the respiratory tract. If, in addition, you want to diminish coughing fits, we recommend adding ivy or primrose. Simply infuse the herbs and leaves in hot water for a few minutes, then remove them, add some honey, and stir until dissolved. You can also squeeze a few drops of lemon juice into the mixture . . . so good!

To relieve nasal congestion

For nasal congestion caused by a cold or sinus infection, we recommend the following: Add a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a pot of water, bring to a boil, remove the pot from the heat, and place on the counter (on a table mat, of course). Using a towel, create a sort of “tent” over your shoulders and head, lower your face over the pot and slowly inhale the vapours for a few minutes. Be careful not to get too close to the hot water; keep a distance of approximately 50 cm to avoid burning yourself! Studies have shown that this remedy helps heal sinusitis. Plus, it’s ultra relaxing.

To diminish and relieve a headache

A tension headache, commonly known as a headache, can easily ruin the day! To get rid of it, massage your forehead, sinuses, and temples with peppermint essential oil and repeat every 15 minutes until your headache is gone. Studies have shown that, in some cases, this solution is as effective as an extra-strength acetaminophen tablet.

Peppermint oil can also be taken by adults to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and minor digestive problems, among other things.

To help with digestion

If a hearty meal awaits you and you’re worried about having trouble digesting, we recommend consuming artichoke, which increases the production of bile, thus facilitating digestion and reducing gastric reflux. Its effects are scientifically recognized. However, there’s no need to gorge on whole artichoke hearts, as tasty as they are, because the part that aids with digestion is the leaf found along the plant’s stem. Artichoke extract in capsule form is therefore your best bet!

The same is true for milk thistle, whose digestive properties are similar to those of the artichoke. In more serious cases, and under medical supervision, this plant can be used to treat liver poisoning and cirrhosis.

To help with digestion

To prevent and relieve nausea

Ginger can help prevent nausea caused by motion sickness, including seasickness (opt for capsules), pregnancy (fresh or powdered ginger), and minor surgeries (powdered format). Doses may vary depending on the source of your nausea.

On the other hand, for nausea caused by gastroenteritis, there is no truly effective cure (even conventional anti-nausea drugs have a rather limited effect). Rest and oral rehydration solutions (once vomiting has stopped for several hours) will help you “survive” these painful days.

To help with constipation

Of course, fibre supplements are very effective in relieving constipation, but ground flaxseeds also contain a high concentration of soluble and insoluble fibre, in addition to being rich in omega-3, all elements that promote normal intestinal transit. So feel free to add some to your morning shakes, muffins, pancakes, etc.

To fight acne

Antiseptic, sanitizing, and regenerating, tea tree essential oil helps fight against mild or moderate acne. Applied twice a day to clean skin using a cotton swab, it helps dry out pimples without causing irritation, like other topical acne medications can.

The power (and pleasure!) of the grog

Our ancestors used to drink a hot grog to help relive an inflamed throat. Today, we know that while a glass of grog isn’t miraculous, it IS a nice treat when you’re feeling under the weather!

In a cup of boiling water, pour one ounce of brown rum or Quebec gin of our choice, as well as lemon juice, star anise, cloves, and honey to taste. This comforting beverage will (almost) make you want to be sick a little longer!