Natural Healing

Whether you have heartburn or a headache,
 here’s a list of natural home remedies you may want
 to try before giving the doctor a call.

Aches and Pains

Proper hydration prevents most body aches and pains. Try drinking plenty of water or snacking on a slice of watermelon if you have headaches.

“Foods that decrease inflammation include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, red wine, dark chocolate, olive oil, nuts and coffee because of the phytochemicals they contain,” says Gale Pearson, a registered dietician with Tidewater Physicians Multispecialty Group (TPMG). “Foods that increase inflammation include processed meats, high-fat meats, snack foods with trans fats and high sugar beverages.”

Studies show that consuming tart cherries may aid with pain relief. Ginger and turmeric may also be used to treat minor arthritis pain.

“Using curcumin, which is the active ingredient in turmeric, has been known to ease pain,” says Tina Shiver, a registered dietician with Lighten Up in Richmond, Virginia.

“It’s also known to decrease infection and bring down inflammation when used topically.”


Battling a cold or seasonal allergies? Take zinc or add some parsley to your salad to boost your immune system. Zinc aids in strengthening the immune system while the antioxidants in parsley help reduce the release of histamines.

 “Perilla seed, which is an herb, can help promote healthy respiratory and immune function,” says Shiver.

Adds Debbi Dunn, a certified holistic health consultant with SAGE Holistic Health: “Many foods help with alleviating pain, but your best defense is whole foods from the earth, colorful foods, foods of the rainbow. White foods, like onions and cauliflower, help strengthen the immune system. Green foods—bell peppers, green apples, kale, spinach—purify with detoxification.”

Skin Ailments

Have sunburn, poison ivy or an insect bite? Oatmeal may help.

“Grind it in a blender or food processor and add to a cool bath and soak,” Shiver recommends. “Green tea’s catechin compounds [also] help with the damage sun has done on your skin. Its tannic acid helps to soothe sunburn pain.”

White vinegar, strawberries, cucumbers and aloe can also be used to treat sunburned skin. Dab vinegar on a cotton ball and rub on the infected area or mash strawberries or cucumbers and apply to the skin for natural relief. “You can break off a leaf of aloe and apply the juice of it to your sunburned skin,” Shiver adds.

Rubbing the inside of a banana peel on your skin may aid with bug bites while lemon juice may help fade sun or age spots.

“Yellow foods [like] bananas, lemons and spaghetti squash fortify skin elasticity,” says Dunn.

Try using honey on blemishes or using yogurt as a face mask, or even washing your face with milk to alleviate puffy eyes.


Enzymes in papaya and pineapple may assist with minor bouts of heartburn or indigestion.

“They are both helpful with digestion issues, which can decrease heartburn,” says Shiver.

Drinking papaya, mango, guava, pineapple, pear or even juiced cabbage, juiced raw potatoes or buttermilk may soothe symptoms. You can also try chewing on fennel seeds, ginger, almonds or soda crackers to alleviate heartburn.

Troubles Sleeping

Having trouble with your slumber? Try noshing on fish, jasmine rice, bananas or chickpeas, or downing a glass of tart cherry juice or rooibus tea. Nutrients in these foods may aid with falling asleep.

“Drinking coconut water, which is full of calcium, magnesium and potassium, can also help with a more restful sleep,” says Shiver.

If symptoms for any of these conditions persist or worsen, call your physician. But with any minor condition, changing your diet or using simple ingredients at home may help.

“I do feel eating a healthy diet impacts our health greatly,” says Megan Cordova, a registered dietitian with Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. “And in many ways food is our medicine. I see every day how my patients’ health improves when they change their diet—their blood sugars come down, blood pressure improves, and they lose weight.”