Naturally Rockford: Simple herbs and spices can help heal many common ailments

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BLOOMINGTON, Minn.—Ibuprofen, aspirin, bandages and burn cream often find their home in the average medicine cabinet. However, having several natural remedies on hand can make stocking up more affordable while providing numerous healthy benefits.

Amrit Devgun, ND, a naturopath who specializes in ayurvedic medicine at Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Natural Care Center at Woodwinds, and Mary Grady, LAc, MOm, a 2005 graduate of Northwestern’s Minnesota College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, suggest households add these herbs and spices to their medicine cabinet:

Clove, which can ease toothaches or headaches. Clove can be used in its natural form or as an essential oil. “If you have a toothache, chew a clove on the side of the mouth that hurts,” says Devgun. “If you have a headache, rub clove essential oil on your temples.”

Fennel, which can be chewed to freshen the breath and reduces bloating;

Hing, which helps reduce gas pain. “Hing is an Indian spice,” says Devgun. “Use a pinch in sesame oil and rub it into the belly button. It is great for cramping as well, but it does have a strong odor.”

Nutmeg, which can reduce restless sleep. “Grate an almond-sized piece of nutmeg and put a half teaspoon in a glass with warm milk, a teaspoon of molasses, a pinch of cardamom, and some cinnamon,” says Devgun.

Turmeric, which is great for the skin. “Mix turmeric powder with oil to make a paste,” says Devgun. “You can apply to your skin and then rinse with buttermilk. This remedy is best for oily skin.”

Tea tree oil, which is an essential oil that is anti-bacterial, anti-fungl and anti-viral. It can be used topically to treat rashes, athlete’s foot and acne.

Chamomile, which calms upset stomachs and aids in relaxation. It is most often used as a tea, but is also available as an essential oil. “When added to bath water, it will calm kids before bed,” says Grady.

Lemons, which can be used on rashes, insect bites or combined with honey and hot water to treat a dry cough.

Garlic, which helps keep the intestinal tract clean and helps lower blood pressure.

Peppermint, which is a great breath freshener and helps settle the stomach. “Peppermint can be taken as a tea, or the essential oil can be used externally,” says Grady.

Vinegar, which can be used as a body splash. “Pour white vinegar or rice vinegar into a clean, empty bottle and splash it on after you shower,” says Grady. “The vinegar creates an acid mantle that pathogens avoid. I haven’t been sick at all in the year since I began doing this. You can add an essential oil to avoid smelling like a pickle.”

For additional information about health screenings, go to, a Web site focusing on natural approaches to health and wellness hosted by Northwestern Health Sciences University.

The Natural News Service is a public information program provided by Northwestern Health Sciences University. The University offers many choices in natural health care education including chiropractic, Oriental medicine, acupuncture, therapeutic massage and integrative health and wellness.from the May 30-June 5, 2007, issue

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