Grow Your Own Drugs! 8 Remedies for Everyday Ailments

Carrot and Aloe Natural Sunburn Treatment

The gel from the fleshy leaves of the aloe vera plant soothes and heals sunburn and other minor wounds. This gentle preparation, applied topically, can be used on children, too.

2 carrots
1 cucumber
1/2 cup sesame oil
1 tsp beeswax
2 tsp emulsifying wax
½ cup aloe vera gel
1 tsp vitamin C powder

1. Finely grate the carrot and cucumber and place in a large pan with the sesame oil. Heat very gently for 20 to 30 minutes. Strain, then return the liquid to the pan.

2. Add the beeswax and emulsifying wax to the pan, and stir while they melt. Whisk in the aloe vera and vitamin C powder. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes creamy and smooth.

3. Pour into a wide-mouthed jar, and let cool. The cream will thicken while cooling.

USE: Apply liberally to any sunburned or sore areas 2 or 3 times a day.

STORAGE: Keeps for up to 2 months in the refrigerator.

Dry and Chapped Skin Treatment

This gentle salve treats chapped hand and skin inflammations with marigold flowers and St. John’s wort.

25 g St. John’s wort flowers
20 g marigold (Calendula officinalis) flowers
Olive oil, to cover
White petroleum jelly - 2 parts to 1 part of oil
Eucalyptus essential oil (optional)

1. Put the St. John’s wort and marigold flowers in a jar and cover with the olive oil. Allow to stand in a cool place for 1 week and then strain through cheesecloth.

2. Melt the petroleum jelly using a double boiler. Add 1 part of the oil made above to 2 parts of melted petroleum jelly. Stir while cooling—you can also add a few drops of eucalyptus oil at this stage if you like. Pour into a sterilized glass jar before the ointment solidifies.

USE: Gently rub into the affected area 3 or 4 times a day when needed

STORAGE: Keeps for at least 6 months in the refrigerator.

Natural Acne Treatment

This acne treatment incorporates lavender and bright orange marigolds, which are anti-inflammatory and antiseptic. Marigolds also contain salicylic acid, which is used in many over-the-counter acne treatments.

10 rose geranium flowers, with leaves and stems
8 marigold (Calendula officinalis) flowers
20 lavender flowerheads
¾ cup (200 ml) water
1 packet vegetable gelatin
5 tsp vodka
20 drops tea tree oil

1. Roughly chop the flowers, leaves, and stems of the rose geraniums and place with the marigold flowers and lavender flowerheads in a large glass bowl.

2. Bring the water to a boil and pour it over the flowers to make an infusion. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes or until the water has taken on the color of the flowers. Place the infusion, including the plant material, into a blender and mix. Strain the mixture through a piece of cheesecloth into a clean bowl.

3. In another bowl, dissolve the gelatin in 2 tbsp cold water. Gradually add the flower infusion, stirring to separate lumps. Add the vodka and tea tree oil, stirring until a gel is formed. Using a funnel, pour into a jar with a pump dispenser.

USE: Apply to affected areas twice a day or as frequently as needed.

STORAGE: Keeps in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks.

Morning and Motion Sickness Remedy

Ginger acts as a safe and effective treatment for both morning and motion sickness.

Crystallized Ginger (Makes about 250 g)
1 ½ cups (350 g) fresh gingerroot
Golden caster or superfine sugar, to match weight of cooked ginger, plus extra for sprinkling.

1. Peel the fresh gingerroot and thinly slice.

2. Put the ginger in a heavy saucepan and cover with water, adding more to allow for evaporation. Bring to a boil and partly cover with a lid. Boil gently for 1 hour, or until the ginger is almost cooked but slightly al dente; the time will vary slightly depending on the freshness of the ginger.

3. Drain, remove the ginger from the pan and weigh it. Return it to the saucepan with an equal amount of sugar. Add 2 tbsp of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon for 20 minutes, or until the ginger becomes transparent.

4. Reduce the heat and keep stirring until the ginger starts to crystallize and easily comes together or clumps in the middle of the pan.

5. Meanwhile, take a large, deep baking pan and sprinkle sugar on it. Tip the ginger into the baking pan and roll it around in the sugar. Separate any clumps of ginger pieces. Place in a sterilized jar.

Natural Hangover Cure

Kiwifruit and feverfew -- a gentle analgesic for headaches -- come together in this morning-after smoothie.

2 cups (500 ml) freshly boiled water
3 tbsp feverfew flowers
3 kiwifruit, peeled
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt

1. Pour the water over the feverfew flowers and let steep for up to 8 minutes.

2. Place the infusion in a blender with the remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Add more honey, if needed—feverfew flowers can be bitter. Serve at once.

STORAGE: Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Cold Feet Remedy

Apply this hot oil to your feet every night before bed to improve circulation and to help prevent cold feet and chilblains.

2 cups (500 ml) sunflower oil
2-4 fresh whole red chilies (cayenne), chopped
50 g gingerroot, chopped or crushed
50 g black pepper
50 g mustard powder

1. In the top of a double boiler, place the sunflower oil, chopped chilies, gingerroot, black pepper, and mustard powder. Stir to mix. Heat the mixture gently for 1 hour.

2. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. Filter the oil into sterilized dark glass bottles.

USE: Rub a little of the oil directly into the feet at night to encourage circulation. Note: This oil does heat the skin, so wash your hands after use; keep away from eyes and other sensitive areas.

STORAGE: Keeps for up to 6 months.

Immune Booster

This immune-boosting soup is packed with nutrients that help to improve your health and ease the symptoms of colds and flu.

2 tbsp dried Echinacea root
3⁄4 cup (200 ml) freshly boiled water
5 tbsp goji berries, fresh or dried
2qt (2L) chicken stock (homemade or canned)
3 chicken thighs or drumsticks (preferably organic)
2 large onions, sliced
12 shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tsp (10cm) gingerroot, peeled and shredded
2 medium chilies, finely sliced
8 garlic cloves, chopped
Extra sliced ginger and chilies, for garnish

1. Combine the dried Echinacea root with the water in a bowl to make a simple infusion. In another bowl, pour just enough cold water over the goji berries to cover, and leave to rehydrate. Set the Echinacea and goji berries aside and let stand.

2. Place the stick and chicken pieces in a large pan or slow cooker. Add the sliced onions, mushrooms, ginger and chilies and place around the chicken in the pan. On a very low heat, simmer gently for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until the chicken is tender and falls apart. Remove from the heat.

3. Five minutes before serving, add the goji berries and chopped garlic. Finally, strain the Echinacea infusion and add this to the soup, reheating if necessary.

4. Serve by ladling into bowls and garnishing with sliced ginger and chilies for an extra kick.

Restorative Treatment

The nettles in this restorative soup are packed with nourishing vitamins and minerals that help build natural immunity and protect from infections.

2 tsbs (25 g) butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 medium (400 g) potatoes, peeled and chopped
450 g freshly picked nettle tops (wear gloves to collect), washed
1 qt (1 L) vegetable stock
2/3 cup (150 ml) heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large pan, melt the butter and gently sauté the onion and garlic for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and nettles and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the stock and cover, then bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
2. Puree the ingredients with a handheld bender, then stir in the cream and season with a little nutmeg, salt and pepper. Reheat and serve at once.

USE: Makes enough for 6

Variation: Nettle Pesto
This is another simple, tasty way to get the benefits of Urtica dioica. The young spring tips are the most tender and tastiest. Just cook a big handful of the young nettle tips (about 150 g) in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain, then place in a blender along with some freshly grated Parmesan, 2 chopped garlic cloves, a handful of pine nuts and about 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil. Blend until smooth, then spoon over freshly cooked pasta.

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