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6 natural remedies you probably already have

Natural spices in the kitchen cabinet have been ingredients of home remedies for several generations, and in this post, I want to share some of these spices that I have grown to love and respect.

I am not a doctor and do not claim any of these can cure you of sicknesses. I have however, grown up using these spices as a part of home remedies for years. They work wonderfully to prevent several ailments and to perk up my spirits.

All of these spices are strong and potent. NEVER use more than a pinch or a few drops of any of them at a time.

1. Ginger

Photo by fotoosvanrobin

Ginger (or ginger root) is one of my most favorite spices. It has been used in Asian cooking for years, and has a wonderfully distinct taste and smell — it’s been used over the years to disguise the taste and smell of medicines.

How I use it:

I often use fresh ginger in my cooking. Just a little ginger in tea (boil for few minutes) is extremely effective in reducing congestion.

Three to four drops of freshly-squeezed ginger mixed with a teaspoon of honey does wonders for an irritated throat.

I also regularly ate ginger candy to reduce nausea during both my pregnancies.

2. Garlic

Photo by carbonnyc

Garlic belongs to the onion family and is another root I use quite a bit in cooking. It has a strong taste when raw, but it gets mild and sweet on cooking.  Garlic is known for its antibiotic properties, and is also a powerful antioxidant. Garlic helps control cholesterol, too.

How I use it:

Due to the strong flavor of garlic, I tend to not use it directly. I do, however, cook with it regularly. Just a couple of cloves, chopped and gently fried in a little butter contains wonderful flavor and goodness.

3. Honey

The benefits of honey are known worldwide. It has been known to energize the body, boost immunity, help with cuts and bruises, and works wonderfully on coughs and colds.

How I use it:

I mostly use honey as a sweetener, replacing corn sugar with it whenever possible. I also use honey as the base for a number of cough and cold remedies. The kids love a teaspoon of honey with a pinch of ginger juice when they have a cough. Ground pepper mixed with honey also works well for my husband and me.

For years, I have had a tall glass of warm water with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of lemon juice every morning. It is a great way to improve metabolism and maintain a healthy weight.

4. Turmeric

Photo by fotoosvanrobin

Turmeric is a key ingredient for many Indian, Thai and Malay dishes. It is known to be a really effective antibiotic, due to its antiseptic properties.

How I use it:

I also regularly cook with turmeric, especially since all curries contain turmeric. A pinch of turmeric can be added to lentils while they boil in the pot. I also use a mixture of olive oil and a pinch of turmeric for face and body massages.

5. Pepper

Pepper is a widely available spice, and it is known to stimulate taste buds and improve digestion. As with garlic, it is hard to use pepper directly, so it is best to incorporate pepper into cooking.

How I use it:

I drink a few tablespoons of warm milk with a pinch of pepper and powdered turmeric when I have a cold and cough. It helps settle the irritation in the throat. Vocal artists and singers in India are known to do this every night to maintain oral health in general.

6. Cloves

Cloves are known for their antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, antiviral, and even aphrodisiac properties. Traditionally, cloves were used to reduce bad breath.

How I use it:

In our home, cloves are the first remedy for a toothache — chewing a clove can be very effective. My mom carries a tiny box of cloves to use after strong lunches and dinners outside the home.

As with everything, spices should be used in moderation and with caution.

What natural remedies do you use? As always, I look forward to what you have to share!

by Maya

Reading Time:

3 minutes





  1. tzigane

    great article!
    my prenatals in my first pregnancy made me sick and i couldn’t keep them down at all. so in my second pregnancy my pharmacist recommeded an natural/organic prenatal that contained ginger. i could keep them down and it did help with some of the morning sickness. he also introduced me to clove for toothaches! he is a trained pharmacist as well in hemeopathic and natural medicines.
    .-= tzigane´s last blog ..Brokenness =-.

  2. Holly

    I had no idea that honey could boost the metabolism. Do you have any more information or sources about this?
    .-= Holly´s last blog ..Quilt Festival =-.

      • Holly

        Thanks for that link. I had heard some of the benefits of the other foods you mentioned, but I didn’t know about the benefits of honey. This is great! Thanks for an informative post.
        .-= Holly´s last blog ..Quilt Festival =-.

  3. izzat aziz

    my mom always ask me to add honey even a bit into anything that i drink especially tea, but it taste really bad, i don’t like it even hate it.. but since it good for health i still pour a little.. 😀

    ginger good for stomach if i not mistaken.

    • Nora

      While honey is aktually healthy, it still contains about 80% sugar.
      Drinking honey-sweeted drinks all day will cause caries (like all sweeted drinks)
      Like everything else it should be used in moderation.

      This is a great post and there are so much more great spices:
      Ginger is a favorite of mine, it could also be used if you get travelsick.
      Fennel and caraway are great for the stomach. They can be used for tea and cooking as well.
      Cardamon can be chewed for fresh breath.

      And then there are all the great and usefull herbs… maybe you could write a post about them sometimes?
      .-= Nora´s last blog .. =-.

  4. Shannon

    We make a honey-lemon-garlic tea when we feel ill. It is surprisingly effective and delicious. Place 8-10 cloves of peeled garlic in a quart jar. Pour boiling water over and steep for 10 minutes. Remove garlic and add raw honey and lemon juice to taste.
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Menu Plan =-.

  5. Lisa @ WellGrounded Life

    Maya: Loved this article! I’ve enjoyed using many herbs and spices for increasing health and caring for sickness over the years–Even many foods have incredible healing properties…its a beautiful way to begin resuming our own part in our health care!
    .-= Lisa @ WellGrounded Life´s last blog ..My Personal Detox Plan =-.

  6. steadymom

    Thanks for these great ideas – we switched to using honey in our baking instead of sugar. Still in moderation, of course, but I’ve loved ridding our household of processed sweeteners!

    .-= steadymom´s last blog ..Steady Thought for the Day =-.

  7. Jodi

    I had always known those spices could do those things but never quite knew how to use them. Thank you so much!
    .-= Jodi´s last blog ..No Spend November: Days 2 and 3 =-.

  8. Caroline Lewis

    Love all of these ingredients, and your suggestions for some uses about which I was unaware. Thanks!
    .-= Caroline Lewis´s last blog ..No Kidding =-.

  9. Caroline

    Love the ingredients already. Thanks for some uses about which I was unaware!
    .-= Caroline´s last blog ..No Kidding =-.


    Didn’t know that about the honey! A tip for low(er) sugar honey… buy it locally! Of course, you have to trust the person is telling you the truth, but our “honey” guy says he uses much, much less than what you get in the stores… and I can taste the difference!

    I haven’t tried this, but I have blood sugar issues, and I’ve heard that apple cider vinegar can be used to help regulate it and reduce insulin resistance. And, cinnamon for the same reason.
    .-=´s last blog ..Float =-.

  11. Tiffany

    The home remedy I’ve been using lately is Virus Killing Soup. It’s a home made chicken soup full of garlic, cayenne pepper (although it isn’t spicy hot at all), thyme, rosemary and lots of fresh veggies. I’m hoping regular doses of it will keep colds and flu away. I won’t link the recipe here, but it’s on my blog if someone wants it.

    Thanks for the tips. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of tumeric before. It looks like skinny sweet potatoes!
    .-= Tiffany´s last blog ..Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce =-.

    • Nina

      I also add ginger and goji berries if I can find them. onions are a wonderful natural antibiotic too.

  12. Rachel

    Don’t forget salt! At the first sign of a sore throat, gargle with salt water. I haven’t had a sore throat in years.
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..Keep Your Oven Clean (Quick Kitchen Tip) =-.

    • Maya

      I wrote salt in the post and then removed it for some reason. We gargle all the time. And use salt with our neti pots too 🙂

      • Kika

        The neti pot I bought came with 50 packets of a special solution to use with it. When they’re gone, would I just use distilled (or previously boiled?) water with a pinch of salt?

  13. Jackie @ Lilolu

    Thank you for the reminder of all these wonderful natural remedies.
    .-= Jackie @ Lilolu´s last blog ..Leaves =-.

  14. Stacie @

    How interesting and helpful. I’ve heard of garlic and honey. Turmeric, cloves, and pepper–those are new and very helpful. Thanks!

    We use salt as a remedy too. It’s great for a sore throat and to clean out sinuses with a neti pot. I haven’t had antibiotics for sinus infections in the last three years due to the neti pot!
    .-= Stacie @´s last blog ..Mommy Envy =-.

  15. Meghan

    That glass of warm water with honey and lemon in the morning wounds SOOO good.
    .-= Meghan´s last blog ..1000 gifts =-.

  16. Tiffanee

    Thanks for all the great ideas! This time of the year especially it is nice to have a remedy on hand. I love that it is all natural and things we normally have in the house anyway. Thanks again!!
    .-= Tiffanee´s last blog ..Chicken and Potato Bake =-.

  17. Kara

    Great ideas! Thanks for all the helpful advice!

    I’ve been using garlic oil topically for my daughters’ ear infections this year and not only has it been working faster than antibiotics to relieve the pain and clear up the infection, the ear infections aren’t returning regularly like in winters past. It has made me eager to learn about more natural remedies.

  18. Leah

    Onion tea will help settle an upset stomach. My granmother always used this and would use a ginger tea for menstrual cramps or stomach upset.

    Stash has an organic lemon ginger green tea and a lemon ginger herb tea that I used when I was pregnant to deal with the morning sickness…that lasted all day. I would sip on it through the day sweetened with honey.

    Cardamom and ginger will help with indigestion.

    Peppermint tea is good for settling the stomach also.

  19. Santhi

    Ok, salt has already been mentioned times over. Tamarind and salt are effective remedies for mouth ulcers, too. Mint tea, lemongrass tea or pandan leaves tea can also qualify as green juices, thus great health boosters. I actually use almost all the ingredients mentioned, in daily cooking.
    And how do you make ginger juice?
    And thank you for sharing such great articles!

    • Maya

      I make ginger juice by grating ginger and squeezing the juice out.
      Hard process but worth it, everytime 🙂

  20. Heather

    Not an ingredient but wonderful a natural remedy eucalyptus oil for colds either in a balm to rub on the chest ( or soles of your feet and pop on socks before bed) or as an oil in hot water to use as a steam, put in a vapouriser or simply a drop or 2 on a hanky to sniff.

    Tea tree oil is a great antiseptic oil for cuts, scrapes and bites.

  21. Dominique

    I use honey and lime to soothen my throat if I do get a sore throat.. it does work wonders.
    .-= Dominique´s last blog ..WW- Fruity Cheese Puffs =-.

  22. Peanut

    Do you drink water with lemon and honey on an empty stomach or does it make a difference when you drink it?
    .-= Peanut´s last blog ..That Dam Bridge =-.

    • Maya

      It works best for me if I drink it first thing in the morning. Something really good about getting a large glass of water into the system too.

      The lemon sometimes triggers acidity in my stomach and I go low on that.

      It kick starts my metabolism when I drink it in the morning, which is why I love it. AND I do not need coffee when I do that.

      To answer your question, I think lemon and honey is beneficial anytime, but I have experienced more benefits when I drink it first thing in the morning 🙂

  23. gretchen from lifenut

    We drink hot toddies when we are sick with nasty colds/sore throats (I card my children and when I discover they aren’t over 21, I must put on my bouncer hat).

    Warm whiskey and honey. Mmmm. Is that a natural cure?

    I’m slowly turning my kids into hot tea drinkers, which is gratifying and I hope will stay with them.
    .-= gretchen from lifenut´s last blog ..The 10-month old in his native environment =-.

    • Maya

      Your tips are fun 🙂 And yes, that bouncer hat helps!

      Tea is so great. I drink slightly warm water almost all the time. It really helps me get more water into my system!

  24. Kim

    An extra note on the Honey. My DH is allergic to antihistamines, and even if you aren’t they do a number on your liver. Using local honey, take 1-2 tablespoons a day and you will see a marked improvement in seasonal allergies. I’ve also heard that putting 4 cloves of garlic into your jar of local honey, letting it set for at least a month works much like a antibiotic, though I have yet to try that one.

  25. Abby @ New Urban Habitat

    Great post. I just wrote a similar one about natural immunity boosters for the cold and flu season. Lemon, honey, garlic, and ginger are amazing!

    This is slightly unrelated, but I recently discovered catnip tea for teething babies. It’s mild and safe and has worked amazingly well for my little guy. It might be worth a try if your baby’s suffering and you’re trying to avoid Tylenol. You can buy catnip at most health food stores in the bulk section.
    .-= Abby @ New Urban Habitat´s last blog ..From the Archives: Business is Booming =-.

  26. Jay

    I seriously hope honey works as well as I’m hearing for allergies! I just moved to Texas and am living with pets for the first time in a while. Yikes my nose has basically exploded!

    Thanks for this!

  27. Lanie

    I had no idea about some of these. Thanks for sharing. I linked to this in my Friday Favorites. ~Lanie
    .-= Lanie´s last blog ..Friday Favorites (November 6, 2009) =-.

  28. shelle

    What great information, thank you! I recommend people visit, it is a wonderful site with free courses on herbalism, my favorite supermarket herbalism. Have a great weekend!
    .-= shelle´s last blog ..priorities =-.

  29. Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship

    A note on honey – all the wonderful antibiotic, anti-etcetera benefits of honey only apply to RAW honey, which is harder to find than regular old honey. Pasteurizing honey kills the good enzymes that are helpful to our systems. It’s still less processed than refined white sugar, but for your drinks, anti-allergy treatments (mentioned in a comment above) and such, you’ll want to find truly raw, local honey.
    .-= Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship´s last blog ..How to Make Ghee (Clarified Butter) =-.

  30. Hana

    I live in the Middle East and here the two most common remedies for an upset stomach are fennel or cumin tea, (both in seed form). Fennel tea is a delicious and effective digestive after meals and kids love it too – and boiled cumin seeds really works for gas and indigestion.

  31. Chelle Belle

    I have started taking Olive Leaf and Olive Leaf Extract this year. It’s worth Googling. I think it really works for many different ailments and as a preventative. It is currently being tested for use in AIDS/HIV+ patients for its antiviral properties. It is amazing. NB: there are no standards or regulations as to how it is processed and there are some manufacturers out there who use lots of chemicals/solvents to produce the end product. The main active ingredient is oleuropein and most bottles will say “contains X% oleuropein.” While they say go for a higher percentage, the higher percentage usually means it’s been messed with to “standardize” it. Also, there is a potential side effect called the Herxheimer reaction, which might affect some. Worth a looksy.

    I love garlic, but it is my understanding that it loses it potency when it is cooked. The raw stuff really kills germs.

    I also love Manuka honey (it’s raw, unpasteurized) which comes from bees that gather pollen from tea trees plants (New Zealand, sorry not local). Tea tree is a natural antibiotic/antifungal and so is the Manuka honey. I give this to my kids periodically as a preventative. It also heals cuts quickly. I’m not kidding! My hands had little cuts on them from being so dry with all the handwashing. I put it on and they felt better and seemed to heal almost immediately. I also use this in water with organic apple cider vinegar in the morning on an empty stomach for a pick-me-up and metabolism boost. I use a reusable straw, because I don’t want the repeated acid exposure to damage my tooth enamel.

    When I make rice, I add turmeric to the water and it gives it a lot of ZING!

    Thanks for the post!

  32. Dee

    This is a great list! I must sing the praises of 1 TBL raw organic honey mixed with 1 TBL raw organic apple cider vinegar in 8 ozs of warm distilled water. I haven’t been sick since March 2009, and my daughter & husband had the flu and my son had the swine flu, yet I did not get sick at all. And I have flown 3x this past year. I take it 5x a week. I love a good natural remedy!

  33. naturopath

    Traditionally, they have been used in herbal medicines to reduce pain and swelling of arthritic and rheumatic conditions. Turmeric has an anti-inflammatory action.

  34. renee1049

    Great info. I’ve also found that ginger/garlic tea with a little honey and a dash of cayenne will quickly decongest. Also, chicken soup with black beans and kale is tasty and help you recover from a cold quickly.

  35. Honey for Health

    Great article, I like the way you introduce each ingredient and then tell us about how you actually use it.

    I’m a honey enthusiast, so I just love it when people acknowledge the numerous health benefits of honey. Actually Honey and cinnamon as well as honey and apple cider vinegar are two powerful combos that have been found to be very effective in helping to treat various ailments.

  36. Zuraimah

    Hi. Interesting and fruitful article. Thanks

  37. Nadene

    Great tips! I recently heard that cinnamon is excellent for blood sugar and arthritis. My friend drinks hot water with a dash of cinnamon and a small teaspoon of honey morning and night, and her hands and feet are pain-free at last! Apparently there are dozens of other cinnamon benefits too.

  38. Steph at Modern Parents Messy Kids

    I too love ginger and honey for the reasons you posted. Trader Joe’s sells a great drink that has both of these ingredients and something else I can’t remember – lemon? It’s great heated up when you have a sore throat.

  39. Erin OK

    I use ginger for migraines. When they’re really bad, chewing on ginger is the only thing that helps!

  40. Kimberly Loomis

    You have to be careful with ginger if you have any predisposition toward gall stones. It can stimulate the gall bladder and cause an attack if you have stones in there which is pretty darn painful, especially if you’re pregnant!

  41. Hip Mountain Mama

    Thanks for the useful post! Will be bookmarking it for future reference!

  42. Marie

    Thanks for the really useful post! I knew about the tumeric and garlic but will certainly try out the honey ideas.

  43. Nina

    funny I just made a tea with lemon juice, raw honey, cayenne, cut up garlic and grated ginger. my son has had viral bronchitis and now I think I do…hopefully this will help kick its butt. he wasn’t too thrilled with the mix.

  44. Mrsprd

    I had mastitis a few months back with redness and fever. I cut up raw garlic & ginger, put it on a spoon and swallowed it with milk. The next morning the fever was gone and I was fully better within 2 days. No antibiotics needed. I repeated the garlic & ginger spoonful a few times while I was getting better. Raw garlic can be hard to swallow, but it has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties that are amazing. I find it easier to swallow with milk or OJ. I have heard from my nutritionist that cooking garlic reduces it’s potency so I like to eat it raw! 🙂 I do this same process with colds or any illness now.

  45. billabong backpacks

    Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article. It proved to be Very helpful to me and I am sure to all the commenters here! It’s always nice when you can not only be informed, but also entertained!

  46. Peggy

    What a great article! We also use tons of fresh greens (spinach, kale, etc.) added to soups at the last minute and also eaten raw (enjoyed in salads or green smoothies.) I think that helps to keep us healthy.

  47. Alli

    Garlic works great for wart removal! We duct tape a fresh clove to the affected area and wait for it to fall off! Gross, but totally worked to get my stubborn planter’s warts off my toes!

  48. Tori

    Thank you for sharing these tips — it’s a nice a reminder that we can turn to our our kitchen before running to the pharmacy.

  49. Cori@Alternative Health Product

    Another spice I use as home remedy is cinnamon. I use it to help digestion, to cure nausea, diarrhea and to cold and flu.

  50. The Mackerel


  51. Margery Hilburn

    We swear by this cold and sore throat elixir at our house. If I feel a sore throat or cold coming, I drink several (4 or 5) cups of this tea during the day, and 9 times out of 10, the cold stops that day!

    green tea and pepjpermint tea (one bag of each),
    generous amount of lemon juice (1 – 2 T.)
    honey to sweeten (1 – 2 t.)

    It is sooooo soothing. My husband calls it “magic tea.” You can use decaf green tea if you don’t want the small amount of caffein in the green tea.

  52. Bee

    Having a jar of honey at home is like having half of the medicines sold in pharmacy

  53. Kim W

    I am 18 weeks pregnant and have had a nagging hacking cough for all of the 4 months no cold symptoms just a cough what is the best remedy for a pregnant lady? I got minced garlic and honey not sure what to do with them. I have tried ginger tea and that did not help. This cough has me feeling often as if I want to vomit please help

  54. Maria

    Honey is really an awesome remedy. I always add it to the tea to get rid of flue!

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