Ancient Remedies, Then and Now

by Jonathan Malory

The Ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Chinese and many other peoples through history have had their own special knowledge and superstitions regarding medicinal plants and herbs; some of which are now considered obsolete, others, however, have proven to be as relevant today as they ever were.

Below is a list of ancient remedies, what was thought of them originally, and what we know to be true about them now. All of which can be taken as an alternative to modern medicines but, like all medicines and drugs, you should always consult your doctor if you are unsure.

These alternatives are some of the possible replacements for over-the-counter drugs that you would normally buy for headaches, colds, cuts and bruises et cetera.

They are NOT to be used for treating serious illnesses.

CAMOMILE

Then

Camomile was known to the Egyptians as 'the plant of the sun', they used it to treat malaria and indigestion, and in religious rituals. Europeans used it in the Middle Ages for its healing properties. Some believed that camomile helped heal the plants that grow around it.

Now

A chemical known as azulene in present in the oil of German and Roman camomile, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and relaxant, this blue crystal is not actually present in the plant, but forms in the oil and only a small quantity is needed. It has sedative qualities and calms the mind, reduces tension in muscles, and is also effective against headaches and period pains.

How To Take It

CAMOMILECamomile is typically drunk as a tea; it can also be used as an essential oil in the bath and may be used as a scent on your pillow to aid peaceful sleep.

FEVERFEW

Then

Feverfew has been used for hundreds of years to relieve rheumatism, headaches and menstrual cramps; it is a member of the daisy family. In recent history, before the widespread use of aspirin, paracetamol etc, a feverfew leaf was eaten between two slices of brown bread to cure headaches.

Now

Following a study of the effects of feverfew on test subjects at the Unit Of Medicinal And Aromatic Plants in Israel, it was revealed that subjects suffering from migraines had their symptoms significantly reduced after using feverfew leaves. The length and frequency of the migraines was also reduced.

How To Take It

FEVERFEWAs mentioned above, the feverfew leaves can be eaten in bread as a sandwich; you can also make an infusion by steeping a teaspoon of feverfew in hot water and drinking it.

CINNAMON

Then

Since biblical times cinnamon has been used as a natural remedy; it was brought to Europe by the Portuguese in the 17th Century and used by the very rich to combat flatulence, diarrhoea and gastro-intestinal disorders. People were also using cinnamon to aid circulation.

Now

Cinnamon is perhaps more commonly known now as a terrific aid to blood circulation, often suggested for use by men to enhance their libido. Nausea and diarrhoea can be relieved by the chemicals in cinnamon. As an essential oils, cinnamon has anti-fungal and pain relieving qualities; it is often prescribes for liver and stomach conditions by practitioners Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.

How To Take It

CINNAMONThe sticks can be grated and sprinkled into drinks...

GARLIC

Then

Garlic was taken every day with honey as an all round healing tonic in Ancient Egypt. Medieval Europeans believed eating whole cloves of garlic protected them from thieves and disease.

Now

Garlic is well known now for many beneficial effects; it can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, fight infection and even protect against some types of cancer. Studies at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London, England, suggest that garlic may reduce the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy. Garlic is also known to protect against colds.

How To Take It

GARLIC

The best way is to eat it raw, but only do this if you don't mind stinking of garlic; otherwise look in your local health food store or supermarket for garlic capsules.

GINGER

Then

Gingerbread was an invention of the Greeks that came about by wrapping ginger in bread to aid indigestion. Ginger beer was brewed by the Anglo-Saxons and used to soothe stomach upsets. The ancient Chinese used it as a medicine for leprosy, fever and colds.

Now

Ginger root has anti-nausea effects; ginerols and shogaol are active constituents that help maintain a smooth gastrointestinal tract, reduce pain and sooth the abdomen along with the active ingredient, zingibain, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger is also good at relieving morning and travel sickness.

How To Take It

GINGER

You can peel ginger and simply chew on it raw; or you may want to steep the fresh root in hot water to make tea.

HONEY

Then

Honey was eaten by the Ancient Greeks for continued good health; they also used it on wounds to speed up the healing process. Honey had being in high regard for its curative qualities in Africa, the Middle East and India all through their history.

Now

A study in Australia showed that honey is able to fight the deadly hospital bug staphylococcus aureus, a drug resistant bacterium of the skin; when honey is applied to wounds they heal up quicker and it reduces infections. Honey can be used on burns to instantly ease pain and reduce swelling; it is also an all round elixir of general good health.

How To Take It

HONEY

If you take sugar in coffee or tea, try replacing it with honey to increase your general health. Apply to burns and superficial wounds to aid the healing process and reduce pain.

LAVENDER

Then

Lavender has been used as a perfume and a medicine by the Romans; people during the middle ages kept the plague out of their homes by covering the floors in lavender, it was also used as an insect repellent. Lavender was used as a tranquillizer in Elizabethan times by mixing it with sugar and using it as a conserve.

Now

Lavender essential all is well known for its calming qualities; in many test cases lavender has been a better aid to a restful sleep than sleeping tablets.

How To Take It

LAVENDER

Add essential oil to your bath for the ultimate in relaxation; three to six drops only, no more than that otherwise it will irritate your skin. You can also use the oil in a burner for a calm, relaxing atmosphere or add a few drops to your pillow for a good night's sleep.

LIQUORICE

Then

This herb has been used as a tasty treat and as a medicine; the Romans, Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Egyptians all used it to treat various problems, like bronchial troubles, coughs and mucous congestion. It has also been used to combat digestive disorders, coughs and mouth ulcers in Chinese medicine for centuries.

Now

It is still used in Chinese medicine today and it's since being scientifically proven to relieve abdominal pains, sore throats, vomiting and hepatitis. It is also said to have a positive effect on women's libidos when eaten, and

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the smell increases a man's blood flow in certain areas.

How To Take It

LIQUORICE

To get the most effect the best way is to eat chewable liquorice tablets.

NETTLE

Then

The Romans use to thresh nettles against themselves to alleviate rheumatic pains. Nettles were also used by the Romans to keep warm by rubbing them on their bodies. Nettles have also been used to help mother's continue to produce milk, to increase your blood circulation and to treat gout.

Now

Scientific studies have shown the nettle to be an effective diuretic (helps you pee) and that it can help lower your blood pressure. They can also be used to treat kidney stones and bladder problems. Practitioners of homeopathy use it to treat nettle rash, rheumatic pains and burns medicine name is urtica urens.

How To Take It

NETTLE

Nettles can be made into a soup, drank as tea or taken as the homeopathic remedy, urtica urens.

RASPBERRY

Then

Raspberry leaves have been used for hundreds of years to help relieve the pain of menstrual cramps, halt excessive bleeding and to make childbirth less painful by reducing uterine swelling. They have also been used to treat morning sickness and threatened miscarriages in the Americas, China and Europe. Raspberry leaves were said to be an aid to fertility when drank as tea.

Now

Contemporary test have shown that raspberry leaves contain a mild stimulant and subtle relaxant and regulate the uterus. Fragerine, the substance in the leaves, relaxes and strengthens the uterus and tones the pelvic muscles, which helps reduce the pain of menstrual cramps.

How To Take It

RASPBERRY

Raspberry leaves can be steeped in hot water to make tea; or you can pick up raspberry leaf tablets at health food stores.

TEA TREE

Then

The aboriginal people of Australia have been using the tea tree for medicinal purposes for over 3000 years. They used it to treat many kinds of infections, recognizing it as a disinfectant; making a paste out of the crushed leaves and applying it to wounds. The early settlers of Australia also realized the tea tree's positive aspects; it was Sir Joseph Banks, a botanist, who named the tree 'tea tree' because you can make a refreshing tea out of it.

Now

Tea tree has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial qualities; commonly used as an essential oil, it can be used to treat all manner of ailments, such as toothache, acne and dandruff. It is often a constituent of soap because of its therapeutic nature.

How To Take It

TEA TREE

Tea tree can be applied directly to wounds, cuts and bites after diluting with water.

WILLOW

Then

The white willow of Northern Europe has been traditionally used as a treatment for fever, rheumatism and inflammation; popularly prescribed by 16th and 17th Century herbalists.

Now

It was discovered that willow contains a substance called salicin in the 1820s; salicin converts to salicylic acid inside the human body, which has a pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effect. Aspirin is made from salicin.

How To Take It

WILLOW

Soak one to three teaspoons of willow bark in cold water for 5 hours; boil it then drink it when it has cooled down.