This piece was part of an ongoing series entitled "Kitchen Medicine" from 1974 to 1975.
"After thirty," says the proverb, "you're either a fool or your own physician." Maybe before thirty, too. . . especially if you live in an isolated spot and/or have a big bump of independence. Of course, you're a bigger fool still if you meddle with a serious or persistent condition . . . but both you and your overworked doctor will be better off if you can prevent or cure your own minor ills . . . as Marj Watkins began pointing out in MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Here's another installment of the health hints that work for her family.
These homeopathic cures for headaches are divided by source. Get tension headache relief through massage. Eat dried fruits and nuts for a low blood sugar headache. Take a break from a headache caused by heat by resting in a cool, dark room.
There are many kinds of headaches (see also my remarks under Colds in MOTHER EARTH NEWS), and each responds best to a different treatment.
From Tension: Get away, have a drink of water, take a few breaths of fresh air. Massage the back of the head, the neck and the shoulders, or find someone to do it lovingly for you. Locate the bundle of nerves midway between your earlobe and your collarbone and gently stroke the knotted area on each side with your fingertips. Experiment to find the most relaxing motion.
From Fatigue: Raise the blood sugar level with dried apricots or raisins and sunflower seeds or cashews. Meditate or soak in a long, hot herb bath (don't do both). Bath recipe: two cups strong tea of lovage, lavender, linden or mint per tub of hot water. Bubbles are optional.
From Low Blood Sugar: Eat dried fruits and seeds or nuts. If you are also dizzy, enjoy a piece of sesame seed candy or a coconut and almond bar. Then have yogurt for instant, predigested protein nourishment.
From Allergies: To prevent this type of headache, catch the warning symptoms: eyes not tracking well together, nervousness, unaccountable sleepiness. Take 100 milligrams of pantothenic acid, 25 milligrams of vitamin B6 and 1,000 units of vitamin C. Have a nap.
To treat an allergic headache, clear the allergens from the head with tepid saltwater nose drops and take the above vitamins with a tea of pennyroyal, marjoram, catnip or thyme leaves. If you're allergic to those herbs, too, you may have to resort to aspirin and antihistamine used sparingly together (a more effective treatment than either taken separately).
From Glare: Prevent glare headache by eating lots of green leaves and apricots and taking 50,000 units of vitamin A before a day on water or snow in bright sun. Treat the condition by seeking the dimmest possible place and relaxing with a damp, cool cloth over closed eyes.
From Heat: Lie down in shade or in a cool, dark room with head slightly raised. Refresh the face, hands and neck with water. Sip a little cool water slowly.
Natural cures for infections including using a poultice, taking vitamin C, or eating hijiki soup.
External infections (of a sore finger, for instance) can be drawn out by soaking the part several times daily in a solution of one teaspoon salt to two cups very hot water. Wounds may be cleaned gently with warm, sterile goldenseal solution or comfrey tea.
For internal infections, such as those of bladder or kidney: Drink plenty of fruit juice and herb teas (comfrey, chamomile, spearmint, buchu and uva-ursi). Take 100,000 units of vitamin A and 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C each morning for three to seven days. Eat parsley, cottage cheese, carrots, okra, apples, tofu (bean curd) and potatoes cooked without peeling, mashed with soybean milk and seasoned with kelp granules. Have hijiki soup for liquid, minerals and vitamin A.
Hijiki Soup: Pour three cups of boiling water over a walnut-sized lump of dried hijiki seaweed, one bouillon cube and two slices of fresh ginger finely diced (or one-third teaspoon of powdered ginger). Simmer the mixture covered for ten minutes. Add one large bok choy leaf (with the stem) or two spinach leaves, diced in half-inch squares, and one green onion — foliage and all — finely sliced. Boil the soup two minutes and serve it to three people. (We enjoy this eaten from rice bowls with china spoons. You can sip much hotter liquid from a china spoon than a metal one without burning your mouth.)
Menstrual problems range from having one too early to one too late; a heavy flow or a light flow. Try these herbal remedies for menstrual problems.
Timing: A chill from cold weather, swimming or a cold shower can delay the onset of a period. Hot showers, scrubbing floors on hands and knees or a sex orgy can bring it on a day or two early.
To Decrease Flow: Take uva-ursi herb tea. (Uva-ursi is the Indian kinnikinick, or bearberry. Steep a heaping teaspoon of dried leaves in two cups of boiling water and drink half a cup every four hours. The same infusion can be strained and used as a douche.) Raspberry, witch hazel and burnet teas are also good. Abstain from sex the day before menstruation and the day of its onset.
Heavy flow that goes on and on can cause anemia, and can also indicate uterine cancer. If it continues as long as three days, make an appointment with your gynecologist. Meanwhile, enjoy prayer and meditation.
To Increase Flow: Fennel seed, marjoram, thyme, chamomile, catnip, ginger and summer savory increase menstrual flow, relieve tension and help allay cramps.
Scant or non-existent flow can mean pregnancy, malnutrition, menopause or extreme nervousness or tension. Again, consult a doctor . . . and in the meantime amend your diet to include more dairy products, liver, eggs, seafood and vitamin E-rich whole grains and unrefined corn germ, sesame and soy oils. Sprinkle a pinch or two of granulated or powdered kelp on your cereal, add it to soups and stews or have hijiki soup. These foods encourage your thyroid gland.
To regulate your reproductive organs' functioning, take vitamin E d-alpha-tocopherol as directed under Aches and Pains in MOTHER EARTH NEWS.
Try this natural flea remedy for cats or some of these natural worm remedies for people and animals.
Fleas: One-quarter teaspoon of vinegar mixed with a cat's food each day for three days will help get rid of fleas and aid the cat in producing its own vitamin C to ward off infections.
Worms: Intestinal parasites seldom infest an animal or person who gets plenty of wholesome food (pinworms love sugar). Worms can be eliminated with gentian violet, but if the diet is too low in protein, vitamin A and the B complex, they will come back. In any case of infestation by worms or amoebas, 100,000 units of vitamin A daily will shore up the ailing intestinal lining and hasten recovery. Permanently increase the amount of raw and cooked greens, carrots, dried apricots, liver, etc., in the diet to prevent the parasites' return.
Catnip, sorrel, hyssop, vervain, chamomile and nettle teas, or the first five herbs nibbled, are old worm remedies. Another— more immediately effective but less pleasant — is to eat garlic and pumpkin seeds at night, followed by castor oil in the morning.