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25 Basic Natural Remedies to Have at Home

Susanna Sisson's picture
Dr. Robynne Chutkan on home remedies

People these days are going back to their roots and using natural “medicine” more and more. In fact the popularity of alternative medicine is at an all-time high and Facebook groups like Modern Alternative Mamas are driving this interest for natural over allopathic. Here’s a checklist of basic natural remedies to have at home.


I grew up in a medical family that went to the doctor for almost everything. The most natural remedy we had at home was aloe vera which my grandmother used for burns. I spent the better part of my childhood in the doctor’s office with sore throats, respiratory problems, and urinary tract infections Despite having an extremely intelligent mom who was a nurse she didn’t take to anything natural and she smoked. In fact, the three adults in our home smoked and they smoked inside the house. Today that would be considered child abuse but then it was the norm. So, I was sick – a LOT.

Eventually I followed in my mother’s footsteps, but I had already dealt with having a sick child of my own and the realization that traditional medicine did not work. We did everything right. I breastfed, grew my own food, made organic baby food, we didn’t smoke, but I did have to return to work when my daughter was 10 months old and three things happened. She had separation anxiety, she stopped breastfeeding despite my best effort, and she almost immediately got sick.

The first week taking Lauren and picking her up at the babysitter was heartbreaking. I didn’t want to leave her but I needed to work because my husband was a student. About the fourth day when I started to take her from the babysitter and she clung to her like a chimp, refusing to let me hold her. I was devastated, and the fact she got sick just added to my guilt.

I had chosen a young female pediatrician when Lauren was born. I also assumed she would take a more natural approach since the first time I met her she was wearing Birkenstocks and Hippie earrings but I was wrong. Her approach was straight out of medical school and the merry-go-round of antibiotic overuse began. Of course antibiotic prescription without a culture and sensitivity test is like throwing a dart in the dark. You might hit the dart board but probably not.

After two and a half years of guesswork, trying different antibiotics about every two months and anticipating a pending surgery for her frequent ear infections I’d had enough. I took to the library, I read Mother Earth News and I made a decision to stop all antibiotics. I had already stopped dairy except for cheese after trials of goat milk. I continued a small amount of cheese and started giving my daughter Pac-Man calcium chews. I also gave her yogurt.

The following month we had a pre-operative appointment with a surgeon for tubes in her ears. I was dreading the appointment and the surgery. When we met the surgeon he inspected her ears and looked confused. He asked what I had done. I explained I’d given up on antibiotics because none had helped and what other basic natural remedies I had tried. What came out of his mouth next surprised me.

“There’s no way I’m putting tubes in this child’s ears when she doesn’t need them. Keep doing what you’re doing.” Not only was I ecstatic I realized I’d found the answer when doctors had not.

It’s no wonder people are turning to alternative medicine. Just listening to the news is scary when you consider how much pharmaceutical companies pay to market drugs that have horrendous side effects. Add that to the conservative number of over 100,000 deaths per year from pharmaceutical drugs and the picture becomes clear. If you ask, most people have a checklist of basic natural remedies to have at home.

The experience with my older daughter certainly changed the way I dealt with my second child. I still encouraged a healthy diet but I didn’t run to the pediatrician for everything. I had my RN degree by that time and about 15 years of studying natural medicine. When my oldest was about 30, I was doing research and ran across a TedMed talk with Dr. Robynne Chutkan, and was finally able to get over some of the guilt I’d been carrying around for almost three decades. I realized even doctors fall into the trap and her family story mirrors ours to the tee.

I also had my own checklist of basic natural remedies to have at home by that time. My younger daughter grew up using natural medicine so it’s second nature for her as well.

25 Basic Natural Remedies to Have at Home

1. Arnica – Arnica montana comes from a flowering plant and is one of the best pain relievers I’ve found for everything from toothache to back pain and even broken bones. Arnica applied to a fresh trauma can stop bruising since it interrupts the bleeding cascade. Arnica pellets taken orally for pain work fast because they begin to absorb in the mouth. This homeopathic comes in an oral form which it taken under the tongue and cream. You can purchase straight arnica gel or cream, or, a compound such as Arnica The Rub, a less expensive version of Traumeel by Heel.

2. Comfrey – Comfrey, or knit-bone can be taken internally for respiratory and inflammation but is best known for healing bones. It can be made into a “cast” and speeds bone growth and healing.

3. Neti pot – Neti pots are great for cleansing and moisturizing the nasal passages. On small children saline nose drops and suction work best but once a kid is older you can teach how to use this wonderful device. I use sea salt and a half to one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in my neti pot. Use less ACV if the child complains of burning.

4. Local Honey – honey is a great barrier for wounds but is also a wonderful soothing ingredient for natural cough syrup. I use honey, lemon and fresh garlic. Remember to keep refrigerated.

5. Elderberry – Elderberry syrup has a long history in treating colds and cough. It’s easy to make or find in the health food store.

6. Apple cider vinegar – ACV has many uses from helping settling an upset stomach to treating toe fungus. It’s is a natural antiviral so taking it daily may help prevent colds and flu.

7. Baking soda – Baking soda can settle a tummy quickly and works better and is less expensive then over-the-counter (OTC) medications that may contain harmful ingredients.

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8. Coconut oil – Coconut oil has natural antibiotic properties. Many people use it on skin infections and in oil pulling to keep teeth and gums healthy. There are almost too many uses to list them all. Coconut oil nourishes the brain and may help prevent Alzheimer’s and it helps in insulin regulation.

9. Greek yogurt – yogurt is soothing for chemical burns like juice from jalapeno on hands and great for replacing good flora in the intestinal tract. Greek yogurt can be used as a facial mask. I like to mix with honey and avocado with a few drops of lemon as an astringent.

10. Echinacea and Goldenseal – Echinacea is God’s antibiotic. Like goldenseal it should not be used daily for longer than a week or two. Together these natural remedies are the dynamic duo of treatments for infections such as strep throat, infected wounds, urinary tract infections, bronchitis, and of course, they often the herbs of choice for colds and flu.

11. Mushroom complex – mushrooms are potent immune builders. A complex of several mushrooms goes from individual superfoods to mega superfood. If you want your family to stay healthy use mushroom complex or add them to your diet.

12. Boswellia – Boswellia or frankincense is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It may be prepared as an essential oil or powder. Boswellia can be used to treat bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis, asthma, ulcerative colitis, hay fever, sore throat, menstrual pain, and cancer.

13. Tea tree oil – tea tree oil is a natural antiseptic but needs a carrier oil as it can burn the skin. Coconut oil works synergistically with tea tree for a natural antiseptic. Tea tree oil also works better than anything for head lice.

14. Colloidal silver (CS) – CS is a natural antibiotic and can be used to treat pink eye or applied to wounds.

15. Epsom salts – Epsom salts or magnesium sulfate can be used in baths for muscle soreness. Some people use these salts for bowel cleansing.

16. Brown seaweed – certain varieties of brown seaweed contain a chemical called fucoidan. Fucoidan is a natural antibiotic, antiviral, anti-coagulant, antineoplastic and a powerful immune modulator. My personal favorite is LIMU because the seaweed is combines with 17% apple, pear, mango, and papaya juice. It's safe for wounds and for use in the eye. There are almost 1500 studies on fucoidan at Pubmed.

17. Probiotics – Gut health is essential to immune function and having good bacteria will help prevent illness.

18. Digestive enzymes – Digestive enzymes are a big help along with probiotics in helping us utilize the nutrients in our food. Some people don’t have a healthy diet and others may lack the ability to metabolize their foods due to illness. Digestive enzymes can take stress off of the stomach, pancreas, liver, gallbladder and small intestine by helping break down difficult-to-digest proteins, starches and fats.

19. Himalayan salt – Pink Himalayan salt in water is a great electrolyte replacement

20. Liquid Minerals – A good liquid mineral that contains trace minerals that are hard to get in the diet is a must in any home.

21. Vitamin C – Linus Pauling espoused the benefits of Vitamin C nearly 50 years ago to prevent colds and flu. This vitamin is water soluble and depleted in the body more quickly when under stress. Vitamin C can be the difference between being sick for a day or two versus weeks or even getting sick in the first place since.

22. Lysine – Lysine is a must have if anyone in your family gets cold sores. Taken orally on a daily basis will prevent breakouts. If you do get a breakout you’ll also want to use lysine cream on the sore.

23. Aloe vera – Aloe works on burns, sunburns and can be eaten to help heal internally. I have used aloe for people with Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

24. Hydrogen peroxide – H2O2 is a must have in every medicine cabinet. It can be used to clean wounds but remember to rinse well. H2O2 can also be mixed 1:1 with alcohol to prevent swimmer’s ear.

25. Calamine – Calamine lotion is great for stings, sunburns, and poison ivy. It can be mixed with benedryl for allergic responses. I found Ivarest is the best on the market but you can make your own “calamine” using this recipe.

Prevention is certainly better than medical intervention, so measures such as eating well, hand washing, and avoiding crowds can help keep you healthy. However, for those times you or a family member is sick or when your diet isn’t optimum keeping an arsenal of basic natural remedies to have at home will help.