You know what they say, abuela knows best. Her at-home remedies when you were sick usually worked and though there’s no explanation sometimes, you’ve come to incorporate it into your life now. In fact, there have been multiple studies done on the effectiveness of herbal remedies for certain illnesses and we all know that even though Vivaporu doesn’t count as natural, it’s a part of our routine when we’re sick that abuela always used. One study confirmed that we use herbal remedies more than any other ethnic group and by doing so we honor our ancestors and history. From agua de Florida to the limpia de huevo, here are 10 traditional remedies from your abuela that we still swear by.
Vaporub (aka Vivaporu)
Ok we know Vivaporu isn’t natural but let’s face it, it’s a staple in our households for a reason and came up every time we felt sick. It can help with congestion, runny nose, and even insect bites, according to abuelita. Rub some on your chest and cover the area with a warm towel or cloth before going to bed. Place a little bit under your nose to help you breathe better or rub your feet with it and cover them up with some socks.
Manzanilla (Chamomile tea)
Manzanilla tea can ease cramps and help you fall asleep and it can also lighten up your hair color. Boil manzanilla tea bags, let it cool, and soak it in your hair for a few minutes. Many Latinx mercados sell shampoo with manzanilla already in them for this reason. Another pro-tip: Boil manzanilla, soak a small towel in the tea, and place it on your eye to ease inflammation from blocked tear ducts, conjunctivitis or other eye infections.
Do you have an upset stomach, gas, or bloat? Drink some té de hierbabuena. This is probably one of the quickest ways to get some relief. It’s always better to use fresh plants but store-bought tea bags will work just as well.
Salt and Lime Water
Got a sore throat? No worries, gargle warm water mixed with salt and lime. Best to do this twice a day after brushing your teeth. The salt and lime work together to kill any bacteria in the back of the throat so you’ll be able to go back to normal in no time.
Everyone loves massages but sobadas aren’t massages that you just give out whenever. These are massages for when you are sick. They help with digestive issues, muscle pain, and even infertility. And of course, abuelitas always have a special pomada to accompany the sobadas.
Everyone has an aloe vera plant in their home, right? This planta is a medical marvel. If you have a sunburn, just cut off a piece and rub the plant over the burnt area. Looking for a little glow? Rub some aloe vera on your face, leave it for about 30 minutes, then rinse off with warm water. Your abuelita may have also had you drink boiled aloe leaves to cure your sickness. This plant is truly a cure-all and one you can also easily grow at home but if you do buy the gel, make sure it’s 100 percent aloe.
Agua de Florida
This cologne actually contains grain alcohol blended usually blended with floral scents including bergamot, neroli, lemon, cloves, cinnamon, lavender, rose, and orange flower. It’s common in Peru and other South American countries for cleanses and healing rituals as well as headaches, nervous tension, shock, head colds, tiredness, and treating insect bites. There’s a reason it has been used for 200 years so give it a try if you haven’t already.
Garlic is an antiseptic so it can be used against infections for a natural and quick remedy. Cut up a clove or two and rub in over a wound. Let it air out and rinse off with warm soapy water. Yeah we know you’ll end up smelling like garlic all day pero that’s worth the healing that comes as a result.
Honey and Onion
Honey and onion cough syrup is a tradition from the Dominican Republic. Honey soothes the throat while onion fights mucus so it’s a win-win and the best part is it’s all natural. Try adding a little bit of lemon to mask the taste of the onion – trust us on this.
Limpia de Huevo
The egg cleansing our abuelitas did to rid us of negative energy is something we all still fall back on when we need a good cleanse, we even saw it on Vida so you know it’s still a thing. You need to do let the egg sit out so it gets to room temperature then run the egg over your body and recite a prayer or a Bible verse. Some even put the egg under the bed to chase the negativity away. Check out Cooking with Bird Martinez‘s tutorial (@mariohandbirdie) for more info.