Treatments from Mother Nature

THE Philippines loses billions of pesos each year from the importation of drugs, some of which are not only nonessential but also even extremely dangerous.

Unknown to most Filipinos, Mother Nature has provided some treatments of common ailments in the form of food, plants, and herbs. Most of these can be found in the kitchen or in your backyard garden.

If you have sunburn, why don’t you treat it with aloe vera? “We’re starting to see evidence in medical literature that aloe vera may really help wound healing,” said Dr. Rodney Basler, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.

Simply break off a leaf and apply the juice. But test a small area first, he cautions, to make sure you’re not allergic to aloe.

One natural remedy for colds is the versatile garlic, which has an antibiotic effect, according to Dr. Marin Haas, author of Staying Health with the Seasons. “It can actually kill germs and clear up your cold symptoms more rapidly,” he said.

Indulging in garlic is another way to cure sore throat. “When a sore throat is caused by a virus infection, as opposed to bacteria, eating garlic can bring quicker relief,” suggested Dr. Yu-Yan Yeh, associate professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University. “Garlic has been show to have antiviral and antifungal activities.”

Stuffy nose can also be treated by sniffing an onion. “Basically, the only thing you get from rubbing on menthol or other decongestants is some irritation that stimulates the nose to run and unblock the stuffiness,” said Dr. Hueston King, an otolaryngologist and visiting professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “You can get the same effect from smelling an onion.”

A hangover once is a hangover never wanted again. ÿBut you can say goodbye to hangover by drinking coffee. “The coffee acts as a vasoconstrictor, something that reduces the swelling of blood vessels that causes headache,” said Dr. Seymour Diamond, executive director of the US National Headache Foundation. “A couple of cups can do a great deal to relieve the headaches associated with hangovers.”

But don’t drink too much coffee, though. You don’t need coffee jitters on top of the alcohol jitters.

Motion sickness can make even the most enthusiastic traveler miserable. One study showed that taking two to four capsules of dried ginger before traveling in a car, boat, plane, or trains prevented motion sickness in 90 percent of the people who participated in the study.

“To combat travel sickness, take a quarter of a teaspoon of powdered ginger or a one centimeter slice of fresh root ginger at least 20 minutes before you get in the car or board a ferry,” suggests an article which appeared in Reader’s Digest.

Ginger tea (salabat) is one cheap remedy for inducing delayed menstruation, also for cleansing your body system. Boil a sizeable piece of ginger rhizome, add sugar to taste, and drink the tea a little hot.

Your tardy bowel movement will perk up. Your saliva always dried up? Chew a piece of ginger and saliva will flow again.

Ever tried treating sprains by eating pineapple? Yes, you read it right!

“You can speed recovery and get rid of any bruising from a sprain by eating a lot of pineapple, especially right after your injury,” explained Dr. Steven Subotnick, a sports podiatrist in Hayward, California. “That’s because pineapple has bromelain, an enzyme that helps heal bruises and speed healing.

Pineapple along with papaya can help treat your black eye after a brawl. “Eating pineapple or papaya, or better yet, a fruit cocktail of both, can help remedy a black eye,” said Dr. Michael Rask, chair of American Academy of Neurologist and Orthopedic Surgeons. “An enzyme found in those fruits changes the molecular structure of the blood, so it’s more easily absorbed by the body.” If you have black eye, eat three papayas a day for faster healing.

Loading up on pineapple will also do the trick, according to Dr. Rask, and both fruits give you a healthy does of vitamin C.

Most warts eventually go away on their own, but if you want to speed up the process, soak a cotton ball with fresh pineapple juice and apply it to wart.

Ampalaya has been considered as nature’s answer to diabetes. Diabetics who wish to try ampalaya need not spend money on the tablet, capsule or tea forms of the plant. They can cultivate the plant or buy it from the market and make their own preparation.

To prepare ampalaya extract, the Department of Health says the following steps should be followed: Wash and finely chop leaves. Add six tablespoons of the chopped leaves in two glasses of water. Boil the mixture for 15 minutes in an uncovered pot. Cool down and strain. Drink 1/3 cup of the solution 3 times a day. Alternately, ampalaya tops can be steamed and eaten (1/2 cup 2 times a day).

“One medium-sized banana boasts of 100-125 kilo calories, 4-5 grams fiber, about 400 milligrams potassium, 17 milligrams calcium, 36 milligrams phosphorus and traces of other minerals like iron,” said Professor Kanwar, an eminent biophysicist who writes for the Health Tribune.

No wonder, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Researches conducted recently at the University of Minnesota, School of Medicine, substantiate earlier reports that high potassium diets (banana being one of these) lower blood cholesterol levels.

Mango fruits are bursting with protective nutrients. The vitamin content depends upon the variety and maturity of the fruit, when the mango is green the amount of vitamin C is higher, as it ripens the amount of beta carotene (vitamin A) increases.

A partial list of the many medicinal properties and purported uses attributed to the mango as follows: antiviral, antiparasitic, antiseptic, expectorant, cardiotonic, contraceptive, aphrodisiac, and laxative.

By the way, in treating ailments with herbs and medicinal plants, use only one herb or medicinal plant at a time. Also, don’t use them for other than what is called for, as herbal medicines have specific uses. More importantly, never do experiments; leave them to the experts.

Dreaming of a white Christmas?

Defy old age

THE Bible recorded the oldest living man through these words: ‘When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he became the father of Lamech. And after he became the father of Lamech, Methuselah lived 872 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died” (Genesis5:25-27).

Through the yeas, people are trying to figure out how to live longer, just like Methuselah. In fact, many people in different parts of the globe at different times in history made it their life’s obsession.

Ponce de Leon’s quest for the mysterious fountain of youth led him to discover Florida. With its sunny weather, beautiful beaches, and palm trees, Florida in itself is a kind of fountain of youth. Many Americans today who retire to Florida do seem to recover their youthful energy and vigor.

No one lives forever, for sure. But this fact doesn’t stop doctors and scientists to search for ways how to live longer. “Aging is the progressive accumulation of changes with time associated with or responsible for the ever-increasing likelihood of disease and death which accompanies advancing age.” That statement comes from Denham Harmon, one of the leading experts in the field of anti-aging research.

In recent years, people are living longer — thanks to science. But, on second thought, merely living longer isn’t good enough. What people want these days is not just living longer, but also living healthier lives. Who wants to live longer if it means just existing, unable to enjoy life?

Dr. Steven G. Aldana, of Brigham Young University, recently revealed that a person may be able to add 20 years or more to his or her life by making several health changes. “People don’t have to completely turn their lives around to get significant benefits,” Dr. Aldana said. Example: Someone who exercises for 30 minutes six times a week can gain 2.4 years of life, even if that person doesn’t adequately control his blood pressure.

But not smoking is probably the most important change. “Men who smoke a pack a day lose an average of 13 years of life, while women lose 14 years,” he commented. Every year, there are about 20,000 smoking-related deaths in the Philippines, where about 60 percent of men smoke.

Excess weight greatly increases the risk of cancer, diabetes and hypertension. A person who is 20 pounds over his/her ideal weight is 50 percent more likely to develop heart disease — and the risk increases as weight increases.

In simpler terms, shed those extra pounds by doing regular exercise. People who engage in moderate exercise at least three to five times a week can reduce their blood pressure by an average of 10 points and dramatically lower their risk of diabetes. A study at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research in Dallas, Texas showed that men who ran, walked briskly, swam, jogged, or played tennis lowered their risks of dying early by 64 percent.

For lowering blood pressure, walking — and not running! — may be the better form of exercise. American president Harry S Truman took to walking briskly until the ripe old age of 88. ÿ Astronaut John Glenn credited his celebrated return to orbit at age 77 to his two-mile daily power walk.

But exercise is not enough. There are other things you must do: Eat most meals at home (restaurant food tends to be higher in calories). Drink water instead of soda (the sugar in soft drinks is a main contributor to weight gain — and artificial sweeteners have not been proven safe). Don’t eat in front of the television (studies show that people who engage in “mindless” eating take in far more calories).

Watch what you put into your mouth. Studies show that eating one-quarter cup of nuts five times a week can add 2.5 years to your life. Fruits and vegetables lengthen your life by 2-4 years. People who increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables from two to five servings a day can reduce by half their risk of many cancers — including pancreatic, colorectal and endometrial cancers.

For every 10 grams of fiber you consume per day, your risk of heart attack goes down by 14 percent and risk of death from heart disease drops by 27 percent. People who eat as little as two servings of fiber-rich whole grains daily can reduce their risk of stroke by 36 percent. Fiber-rich foods, which can also reduce colon cancer risk, lengthen life by 2-4 years.

Sleep well. William Shakespeare wrote a long, long time ago: “Sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care, the death of each day’s life, sore labor’s bath; balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, chief nourishes in life’s feast.”

As you grow older, don’t worry about it. The more you worry, the more you will likely to meet your Creator. In fact, be thankful that you are able to reach the age, which most people have not attained. Perhaps, you can sing Paul Anka’s song: “My friends, I’ll say it clear; I’ll state my case of which I’m certain. I’ve lived a life that’s full. I’ve traveled each and evr’y highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way.” Henrylito Tacio

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