Νno matter how big or small the condition is, someone in my family always has a cure for it.
As a child, at the first possible sign of a sore throat, my mother would boil water, pour it into a cup, add vinegar and salt and then, when it warmed up, gargle the mixture. I used a similar saltwater cocktail when I lost my first tooth. I swirled the hot preparation around the scar area that once held my tooth in place to stop the bleeding and help the area heal. If I had a cough, he would cut a lemon, squeeze the juice from each slice into a cup, heat it and put a dollop of honey. The tart, sweet, mixture helped soothe my throat and chest while breaking down any mucous membranes.
Although I did not realize it when I was growing up, these treatments were proof that well-being was always possible. The natural remedies that my mom and grandma did were a continuation of the natural remedies that my great-grandmother and the matriarchs created before her to maintain their health. As a Garifuna-American, with roots located between West and Central Africa, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Honduras, my family has passed on ancestral knowledge and healing traditions that have influenced my own health and well-being.
Although there is not a large amount of medical research available for a range of natural home remedies, many family members believe that they provide the holistic information needed to treat their condition. “The truth is that if these treatments did not work, they would not have been passed down through the generations for centuries,” says Suncear Scretchen, a wellness coach and energy professional. “When you practice a treatment that has been in your family for years, you utilize the wisdom of your ancestors that is inherent in your body’s intelligence.”
I did not make the connection early in my life between the natural remedies my family went through and my innate understanding of them. As I got older, however, I felt like I was following the most natural way of dealing with specific health problems such as stomach aches, skin irritations or an impending cold with herbs such as aloe vera and ginger root. I have a number of childhood memories that include market trips to pick up one or two products to prepare for a natural home remedy.
My mother always had anise or anise in case we needed its anti-inflammatory properties to treat digestive problems or other purposes. The women in my family also use it to treat menstrual cramps and related pain, a strategy that some research supports. when I had symptoms, my mother would boil anise, drain the herbs, and pour me a cup.
Now, almost a year after the COVID-19 pandemic, I turned to natural home remedies to keep me as healthy as possible. While the information about the virus is constantly changing, I have made sure to drink herbal teas that – given the way I grew up – I think will boost my immune system: echinacea, lemongrass, licorice and mint, to name a few. I also start my day with warm water with lemon for hydration and to increase the intake of vitamin C, which is known to help fight the common cold.
The natural home remedies that kept me well for 32 years did the same for my whole family and many blacks, natives and people of color (BIPOC)
The natural home remedies that have kept me well for 32 years have done the same for my whole family, and many blacks, natives and people of color (BIPOC). I pick up the treats I use for treatments at my local supermarket or health food store, but they could all be found on the land my grandparents and great-grandparents owned. It was second nature for them to seize what they needed from the earth. When I think about the thousands of years that these wellness practices have existed, I can only feel extremely grateful that they have remained intact, because this reality speaks to my ancestors’ innate understanding of the botanical and healing powers of nature.
As my own mother and grandmother have shown me, I look forward to the day when I can show my children that treatment is accessible. Then they can maintain and enhance their well-being with items in their kitchen.
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