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I’ve written about my extensive natural “medicine cabinet” before, but I’m always asked what my favorites are. Which home remedies are worth the money with a limited budget? The good news is many of these simple remedies can be found in your kitchen cabinets!
My Favorite Simple Home Remedies
As the question goes… if I was stranded on a desert island, which natural remedies would I take with me? I didn’t have to think too hard on this one. These are my family’s go-to home remedies that we use all the time.
Be sure to check with your healthcare practitioner if you have any concerns. Especially if you’re using home remedies during pregnancy, nursing, or with children.
Magnesium for Everything
Even though it’s technically a supplement, if I had to choose a favorite home remedy, it would definitely be magnesium. A good night’s sleep is my #1 factor for feeling great and staying healthy. Since magnesium supports sleep and relaxation, it’s been a game-changer for me and my family.
Many people are deficient in this important mineral (here’s how to know if you are). This is unfortunate since it’s needed for over 300 reactions within the body! It’s so important to have adequate magnesium — we literally can’t survive without it.
Both my kids and I take magnesium as a supplement daily (link below). Plus we use it in homemade recipes for the whole family since it can also be absorbed through the skin.
How to Use Magnesium
Home Remedies for Nausea
While magnesium definitely helped my morning sickness, there are other ways to beat nausea too.
- Peppermint or ginger tea – Sipping on a cup of peppermint or ginger tea helps with indigestion and upset stomach
- Peppermint essential oil – For motion sickness or nausea, I mix several drops of peppermint essential oil with 1 tablespoon of carrier oil like almond or olive oil. I rub this mixture on the feet, chest, and back of the neck. Diffusing or smelling peppermint oil can also help.
- Herbal digestion tincture – This blend contains fennel, peppermint, and ginger. It helps with bloating, digestion, and upset stomach.
Natural Remedies With Peppermint
Peppermint is great for nausea and digestion, but it has a lot of other uses too. You can drink it as tea or dilute it and apply the essential oil. Peppermint with green tea makes for a refreshing drink in the morning or afternoons.
Be sure to always dilute peppermint essential oil before using it on the skin and don’t get it in the eyes.
How to Use Peppermint
- Apply diluted peppermint oil to the temples and the back of the neck for headaches and migraines.
- Use peppermint tea or hydrosol in a spray bottle for hot flashes or to cool off in the summer heat. This refreshing spray uses aloe and mint to cool down.
- Drink peppermint tea or smell the essential oil to help with nausea (see above section on nausea).
Addressing Fever With Home Remedies
Peppermint essential oil can help lower a fever, but we don’t always want to do that. In most cases, fever is a good sign that the body is fighting illness. While our first instinct is to treat the fever, this can slow recovery. Our bodies use the heat of the fever to help kill viruses or bacteria.
That being said, certain fevers, especially in children, can be dangerous. Temperatures that quickly rise can lead to issues like febrile seizures in very young children. The medical community generally considers febrile seizures to be harmless and there’s no evidence that lowering a fever reduces febrile seizure risk.
Fevers in newborns, immunosuppressed kids, and children with over 104 Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius) can indicate dangerous infections and severe illness. If your child (or you) appears severely ill with (or without) a high fever reach out for medical care immediately.
How to Naturally Lower Fever
- Dilute peppermint essential and apply to the bottoms of the feet and back of the neck. Never apply peppermint to the faces of infants.
- Use a cool ice pack on the back of the neck. This works because our body’s heat center is there.
- Try some herbal teas to help lower fever.
- Get in a lukewarm/cool bath and let your body acclimate to the cooler temperature.
Home Remedies for Ear Infection
Like fevers, ear infections can be another common childhood occurrence. Antibiotics don’t usually work and they can start a vicious cycle that ends in multiple rounds of antibiotics and even surgery for tubes in the ears.
Thankfully there are easy home remedies for ear infections! Here’s the method our family uses to get rid of them:
At the first sign of infection, have the affected person lay on their side. Use a dropper to put pure 3% hydrogen peroxide into the ear. The peroxide will bubble but keep them lying down until the bubbling slows. You can do this every few hours until the symptoms are gone
You can also find a whole list of ear infection natural remedies here.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Is there anything apple cider vinegar can’t do? From cleaning the house to boosting health, we use ACV just about every day. When taking for health purposes, it’s important to use apple cider vinegar with “the mother.” This is the cloudy substance in organic vinegar that supposedly has potent benefits.
If you have a bunch of apples lying around, you can even make your own! Save the cores and peels, then use them to make homemade apple cider vinegar.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar
- Add a teaspoon to 1-2 cups of water for indigestion, heartburn, reflux, or stomach upset. This ginger honey switchel is another delicious way to get more vinegar in.
- In a bath to soothe skin problems or reduce body odor
- Grab a washcloth and apply a 25% ACV and 75% water solution to a sunburn for quick relief
- Add to a foot soak to help relieve athlete’s foot
- Use for skin conditions, like acne to get rid of zits
- As the base of an herbal hair rinse to strengthen hair and nourish the scalp
- There’s some evidence it may help with weight loss, but nothing conclusive
- For a sore throat, I mix 1/4 cup ACV with a few teaspoons of raw honey. Drink in 8 ounces of water 6 or more times daily until symptoms are gone.
- Drinking ACV helps lower fasting blood sugar levels in the morning
- Apply a 50/50 ACV and water solution to bug bites to get rid of the sting
Where to get apple cider vinegar: Make sure you buy raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar (not pasteurized). I usually stick to this brand.
Home Remedies for Bites and Stings
When we’re outside in the summer it’s a fact of life that there are insects just waiting to bite! ACV on the sting can help, but here are some other home remedies for stings and bites. First, carefully remove the stinger with tweezers (don’t squeeze it!)
- Rub a paste made with baking soda and water onto the bite or sting.
- Apply a drop of lavender essential oil. It’s anti-inflammatory and helps relieve the itch from mosquito bites.
- Apply a freshly crushed plantain leaf to the area. You can crush/roll it in your hand. The easiest way is to chew up a leaf and then spit it onto the wound. Kids can have fun with this one!
- Apply drawing salve with charcoal
Charcoal is great in a drawing salve for bites and splinters, but we keep it on hand for its many other uses too. It works for upset stomachs, food poisoning, and even whitening teeth! It’s well studied for safety and relatively inexpensive to buy.
And no, this isn’t the same as the charcoal you use on the grill! We’re using activated charcoal here. Because it’s porous, the increased surface area of the molecules binds to substances. This makes it useful as a poison and toxin remedy. It’s also used in filters to purify water.
How to Use Activated Charcoal
- In charcoal gummies for sickness or upset stomach
- Mixed in applesauce (but it doesn’t look so delicious)
- As a purifying face mask
- In a drawing salve for bug bites
- Whiten teeth, either by mixing in natural toothpaste or using this healthy premade one
- In a water filter and air filter
- Keep on hand for accidental poisoning emergencies. BUT I would call the Poison Control Center first and only administer at home if instructed to do so. Activated charcoal is not recommended for every situation.
Note: In my personal experience, do not give activated charcoal to a child you suspect is about to throw up… unless you want black vomit everywhere!
Where to get activated charcoal: I buy this brand made from coconut shell charcoal.
Natural Remedies for Bleeding
Obviously, if a wound is very deep or nasty looking, a trip to the local hospital is in order. But most cuts and scrapes can be treated at home. With 6 kids you know we’ve had our fair share of bumps and cuts!
How to Stop Bleeding
For cuts, scrapes, and wounds that don’t stop bleeding, I use cayenne pepper powder. Use pure cayenne (preferably organic) and sprinkle some on the wound. It will burn for a few minutes but it helps clot the blood. After the bleeding has stopped, rinse with cool water and treat as you would any other bleeding wound. This one has saved us several trips to the ER.
- I keep medical-grade super glue and raw honey on hand for wound sealing and healing.
- Fresh or dried yarrow on a cut helps staunch bleeding. Plus it’s antiseptic and antimicrobial.
Elderberry Syrup for Immune Health
If I could choose only one home remedy to have for the rest of my life, elderberry syrup would be it. It’s the first thing I use when trying to avoid the common cold or flu.
Elderberries naturally support the immune system without harmful side effects. Not only do they help prevent the flu, but they can help even after you’re sick. And It’s safe for young children too. They’re rich in flavonoid antioxidants that are great for certain health conditions and overall wellness.
I order elderberries in bulk and make homemade elderberry syrup. It lasts for weeks when refrigerated. Kids also love the taste (it’s similar to a strong grape or blueberry flavor with a hint of cinnamon) and I love the benefits!
How to Use Elderberry
- We take 2 teaspoons of elderberry syrup daily during cold and flu season and up to 4 times a day when we have symptoms of illness.
- As elderberry gummies for easy dosing when traveling and extra benefits from gelatin.
- In elderberry tea when feeling illness coming on
- We make elderberry marshmallows for a fun, immune-boosting treat!
- In kombucha for extra health benefits and flavor
- I’ll make elderberry popsicles when the kids have sore throats
Home Remedies for Congestion
Congestion often comes with colds and flu and is frustrating to deal with. And I’d rather not take drugs to just mitigate the symptoms. For babies especially congestion can be dangerous due to their tiny airways.
How to Get Rid of Congestion
- At the first sign take vitamin C every few hours until symptoms fade.
- Do a steam tent; here’s how: Boil a pot of water and then add peppermint herb or a few drops of essential oil. Eucalyptus or cedarwood essential oil also works. Place a towel over your head, lean over the pot and breathe deeply with slow breaths. Don’t get too close or you’ll get a steam burn!
- For little ones, turn the shower on hot and close the bathroom door. Once it’s steamy, sit with your little one in the bathroom (not in the water). The steam will help clear congestion.
- A nose Frida or bulb syringe are also useful for little ones with congestion.
- Xlear nasal spray
- Congestion remedies (including homeopathic remedies) from Genexa, a clean medicine company. Their Flu Fix and Cold Crush both help with congestion.
- A neti pot, like this ceramic one.
Home Remedies With Chamomile
Chamomile is definitely one of my favorite herbs to calm and relax. It’s also great for mild pain relief (I love to use it in place of Tylenol).
Plus, chamomile has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-parasitic properties that make it great for a variety of uses. I even use a strong chamomile brew to color my hair.
How to Use Chamomile
- As a homemade cough syrup
- In a sleepytime tincture for restless kids (or insomniac adults!)
- As a tincture or tea to soothe aches and pains from menstrual cramps, headaches, or stomach bugs
- In homemade baby care recipes like diaper cream and baby oil.
- To help calm eczema and dry skin, especially on children.
- For a fussy baby with colic or teething
Where to get chamomile: Get chamomile in bulk here.
The Bottom Line on Home Remedies
As you can see there are plenty of natural options when it comes to addressing your family’s health. You don’t have to have every single remedy on this list to get started. And you’ll probably find you collect lots of home remedies over time the more you get into it.
This article was medically reviewed by Madiha Saeed, MD, a board certified family physician. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
What home remedies do you always keep on hand? Leave a comment and let us know!
- Shmerling, R. (2020, October 29). Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: Does it really work? Harvard Health Blog.
- Domínguez, R., et al. (2020). Elderberry (Sambucus nigra L.) as potential source of antioxidants. Characterization, optimization of extraction parameters and bioactive properties. Food chemistry, 330, 127266.
- Drugs.com. (July 4, 2022). Yarrow.
- Hadi, A., et al. (2021). The effect of apple cider vinegar on lipid profiles and glycemic parameters: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. BMC complementary medicine and therapies, 21(1), 179.
- Salehi, B., et al. (2020). Achillea spp.: A comprehensive review on its ethnobotany, phytochemistry, phytopharmacology and industrial applications. Cellular and molecular biology (Noisy-le-Grand, France), 66(4), 78–103.
- Silva, G. L., et al. (2015). Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias, 87(2 Suppl), 1397–1408.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Fever in Children.
- Mayo Clinic. (2021, February 24). Febrile seizure.