Old Fashioned Remedies: Peppermint….More Than Just an After Dinner Treat.

Since the beginning of time, people have relied on herbs and plants to treat every day ailments.  Now, most people rely on pharmaceuticals to do the job, but there are some who stand firmly behind these naturally occurring plants and their healing properties. Today, we take a look at Peppermint.

Peppermint has been used in cooking and as a medicine since 1500 BC and is thought to have originated in Northern Africa and the Mediterranean.  Early Egyptian texts state that it was even used as currency!

Eventually, peppermint was brought to Europe around 1240 A.D.   It was listed in the Icelandic Pharmacopoeia (basically a cookbook containing directions for the identification and preparation of medicines) as an herbal remedy.

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In 1721, peppermint showed up in the London Pharmacopoeia and by was being cultivated on a much larger scale by then. Farmers went from growing a couple acres of the plant, to several hundred acres.

When Europeans began settling in North America, they soon discovered that the Native American’s were already using the herb, although it was a slightly different variety.  Settlers brought their European variety with them and soon that began growing naturally as well.

Today, the United States produces over half of the world’s commercially grown Peppermint. Michigan is the top producer, although it is also found in the northeast from Indiana to New York and the very southernmost areas of Canada. Much of what is produced is made into Peppermint oil.  Although the United States may produce the largest quantity of oil, it is generally agreed upon that the best quality oil comes from England.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil

Throughout the years, Peppermint has been used for the following:

Relieving toothaches.  When peppermint oil is applied directly to the sore tooth, it soothes the inflammation.

Whitening teeth.  People during the Middle ages used to chew on Peppermint leaves to help keep their teeth white.

Killing bacteria. Mint has long been used as an antiseptic, particularly for the mouth.

Calming an upset stomach and relieving gas.  Peppermint is thought to have anti inflammatory properties.  It calms the muscles in the digestive tract, helping to relieve a stomach ache.  The Romans grew peppermint specifically for this reason.

Getting rid of the common cold. Inhaling peppermint oil will alleviate the symptoms of the cold.  When applied directly to the skin, it is also a painkiller.  The surface heat it produces relieves pain beneath the skin.

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See page for author [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]

                                     Relieving itchy skin.  Peppermint has been used to heal rashes and bug bites.                                                                           When put in shampoo, it also relives a dry, itchy scalp.

Perfume.  Peppermint oil applied to the skin gives off a clean, sweet, and refreshing aroma.  For this same reason, it was a used as ground cover in Europe during the middle ages.

After looking at this list, you can see how things like after dinner mints, toothpaste and mouthwash have developed over time.  What is your favorite use for peppermint?  Let us know in the comments!

Old Fashioned Remedies: The Magic of Honey & Cinnamon

For years, the combination of honey & cinnamon has been touted for its beneficial properties. Both cinnamon and honey individually have wonderful attributes, and putting them together doubles the benefits.

Some go so far as to claim that honey & cinnamon will cure any disease. While we wouldn’t dare to assert that claim, science does suggest that the combination is still a pretty powerful medicine.

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What will honey & cinnamon do for you, you ask? Here are just a few things:

Antioxidants. Want to boost your immune system? Honey & cinnamon were born to do just that. These magical ingredients help the immune system fight off viruses and colds.

Fight off cancer. Some say that honey & cinnamon will help prevent cancer. Honey has chemicals said to prevent cancer and cinnamon prevents tumor growth.

Help arthritis. Got arthritis? Take this combination twice a day in a cup of hot water. The anti-inflammatory properties will reduce any arthritis pain.

Bug bites. As well as witch hazel, honey & cinnamon work wonderfully for treating bug bites. Just combine the two and put the solution onto the itchy bug bite or an itchy patch of skin and the itching should disappear!

Digestion. Honey & cinnamon in hot water are sure to ease any stomach upsets. This combination will help the digestive system work better and relieve indigestion.

Skin care. Both aging skin and skin that suffers from breakouts will benefit from a simple paste of honey & cinnamon. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help soften skin and get rid of spots.

These are just some honey & cinnamon remedies! There are plenty more out there — what would you use this miraculous pairing for?

Sources:

Snopes

Natural Cures

Surprising Benefits

 

Old Fashioned Remedies: The Cure for Insomnia

 

Do you suffer from insomnia? Numbers estimate that 60 million Americans are affected by insomnia every year.

There are a number of treatments for insomnia. One of the most natural involves soothing herbs. Chamomile is especially famous for its sleep-inducing properties.

In 1911, the cures for insomnia ranged from reasonable to downright ridiculous.

This is an excerpt from the 1911 handbook Personal Hygiene and Physical Training for Women by Anna M. Galbraith:

Treatment for Insomnia – The mechanical measures for the relief of insomnia have for their purpose the withdrawing of the blood from the brain to the surface of the skin: hot foot-baths, brisk exercise, light massage, and cold rooms. Mental work should be laid aside several hours before retiring; late suppers avoided; coffee, if taken at all, should only be taken for breakfast, and then only one cup. Reading or amusement should be selected that does not excite the nerves.

To woo sleep the woman should put herself in a position of rest, which of itself physiologically induces sleep. Avoid irritations, noises, bad air, cold feet, overloaded bowels, and of which tend to wakefulness to prevent the proper physical rest. Then sleep usually comes of itself.

Some of this advice is sound, but don’t go trusting every word, since modern science has definitely moved forward since then.

Looking for a simple, old-fashioned solution to insomnia? Try drinking tea.

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Chamomile has oft-praised properties for curing lack of sleep. Steep a teaspoon of chamomile in hot water for a few minutes and drink up; you can also buy tea bags of chamomile at your local grocery store.

Another old-fashioned cure for sleep troubles is ginger tea. Ginger has soothing properties and is especially good for unsettled stomachs. It draws the blood from the head and toward the stomach.

Drink either of these and you should sleep like a baby. Of course, if your insomnia is especially bad, you should see a doctor, but for a night of restlessness, these should do the trick.

 

Old Fashioned Remedies: Witch Hazel & A Bonus Bug Spray DIY

Many seem to have forgotten the almost magical qualities of witch hazel, but it deserves so much more recognition. Victorians used to keep gallon jugs of witch hazel on their vanities for the extract’s multi-purpose use.

Wondering what witch hazel can do for you? To start with:

  • Witch hazel reduces inflammation, making it ideal for treating acne and under-eye bags
  • Use it on bruises to help them heal faster
  • Treat itching & swelling from poison ivy or poison oak
  • Soothe a sunburn with witch hazel to help it feel better & heal faster

…And more!

Summer’s coming up, and that means it’s almost mosquito season. For many of us, however, the chemical-laden bug sprays on the market are a little suspicious.

Witch hazel offers a solution that doesn’t leave your skin smelling like chemicals for hours. It’s a natural bug repellant (but if you’re caught out without bug spray, it makes for a soothing bug bite treatment, too). People in the olden days probably used witch hazel to keep away the bugs.

A mint plant with a flower.

A fresh mint plant.

DIY Witch Hazel Bug Spray (from this source):

1. Ingredients:  your choice of essential oil, witch hazel, and water.

2. The essential oil can be any combination of citronella, clove, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, eucalyptus, cedar, catnip, lavender, or mint. Using at least one oil from the mint family is recommended.

3. Fill the spray bottle half full of boiled water, then fill almost the rest of the way with witch hazel. Add 30-50 drops of your oils of choice. The more drops of oil you add, the stronger the mixture will be.

That’s it! Now this old fashioned remedy will repel bugs and help you smell really good at the same time.

Do you have any natural home remedies you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!