Simple Cures for Common Ailments

Being the productive, powerful beings that we are, we don't have time to get sick! In this post, I'll be highlighting some effective but easy treatments for those common and annoying afflictions. Being a nurse has taught me a lot, but one of the most important things I've learned is that preventative care is the best way to care for yourself. Hopefully, knowing some of these treatments will keep you on your feet, but as always, please see a doctor when necessary. 

For headaches:

  • Drink water. Headaches can often be caused by dehydration, even if you don't feel dry. Eating a water-rich food, like watermelon, can be helpful.
  • Drink caffeine. It's possible that your headache is simply a result of blood flow, and slightly constricting blood vessels can cure it.
  • Try a scalp massage with peppermint oil. I like to keep a rollerball mixture of peppermint and lavender oil and apply it to the base of my neck and temples. 
  • An ice pack to the back of the neck sounds simple, but it's the only thing that helped when I started having pregnancy-related headaches. Again, the ice constricts blood flow, relieving dilated vasculature.
  • Consider reevaluating your bra's fit. Tight straps can pinch a nerve in your shoulder that can cause frequent headaches.
  • There is a pressure point between your thumb and index finger, that when pushed, may relieve headaches. This works better for some people than others, but is worth a try. 
 The pressure point known for aiding in headache relief.

The pressure point known for aiding in headache relief.

For nausea:

  • Peppermint tea is known to soothe unsettled tummies. Simply inhaling peppermint essential oil can provide the same kind of relief if you cannot stomach tea.
  • Ginger ale and saltine crackers are a well-known remedy for nausea. The ginger can soothe the sensation of nausea, while the crackers (or any starchy food, really) should absorb acidic gastric content.
  • There is also a pressure point on your wrist that may help with nausea. This is where the idea of "sea sick bracelets" comes into the frame, as they are designed to trigger this pressure point. 
  • Ensure that you are staying hydrated while sick, or you'll ultimately feel worse. This can be hard, when nothing stays down. Electrolyte drinks, such a gatorade or pedialyte, are engineered for this purpose and are your best bet. 

For a sore throat:

  • Lozenges, specifically those with honey or menthol, are simple and portable aids. They will not treat the cause, but the symptom.
  • Hot tea with honey is typically soothing on sore throats.
  • Gargling with salt water can be helpful, as salt is bacteriostatic (meaning, bacteria find it difficult to grow in the presence of sodium.) 
  • Marshmallows are a natural remedy for sore throats, since they contain gelatin, which can coat and soothe inflamed throats.
  • Know when to seek help: if your throat has white patches, your tonsils or uvula is swollen, or you have a persistent fever, it's time to see your health care provider. 

For insomnia:

  • Lavender essential oil, mixed with water in a spray bottle is something you'll find on my nightstand next to my vitamins and whatever book I'm currently reading. I spray it onto my pillows and sheets before I start my nightly ritual of getting ready for bed. The scent is known for it's drowsy-inducing properties.
  • Herbal, caffeine free tea is also known to help. My favorite kind is Celestial brand's Sleepy Time tea, but generic chamomile tea is as effective. 
  • Sometimes, I just have to get out of bed and reset. Staring at the ceiling gets old, you know? Getting up, refluffing the pillows, rinsing my face, and doing some light stretching and yoga almost always sends me to sleep. 
  • Ensure your environment is dark and quiet. I worked the nightshift for many years, and installing black out curtains was monumental in my quest for day-sleep. Turning off electronics, covering any light emitted from them, or even wearing an eye mask can do the trick. A white noise app or machine might also be helpful. 

For hiccups:

  • The important thing to understand with hiccups is that they are caused by the irritation of the phrenic nerve in your diaphragm. The only way to get rid of them is to calm that nerve, which can be done by taking slow, deep breaths. Drinking a glass of water can regulate your breathing if you find this hard to do. 


For heartburn:

  • If you gastric reflux is preventing you from falling asleep, you might try resting in an elevated position. You can achieve this suppression of gastric acid by propping yourself up on some pillows.
  • Chamomile tea is said to be helpful in some cases.
  • An ounce of apple cider vinegar (or a swig, for those of us who don't measure anything) is also known to relieve the acidity. Personally, I can't stand the taste and would rather have heartburn (or take a TUMS) but my husband swears by it.

For general health maintenance:

  • Get 10,000 steps per day, as recommended by the American Heart Association.
  • Get 8 hours of sleep.
  • Meditate for 15 minutes.
  • Stretch/do yoga daily.
  • Drink 8 glasses of water.
  • Eat range of colorful fruits and veggies.