During the day, we might start to feel drained or experience aches and pains in our body that we wish would go away. Luckily, these five natural cures for common health bothers work just as well as pricey prescriptions, saving you hundreds of dollars and the hassle of troublesome side effects!
Melt worry with a garden stroll.
One quick way to shake off the blahs and restore your sense of happy calm on hectic days: Pop outside and take a whiff of jasmine flowers in bloom, or simply massage jasmine-scented lotion into your hands. Breathing in the floral fragrance increases production of the calming brain chemical GABA in as little as two minutes, which German investigators say calms tension and brightens your mood as effectively as prescription anti-anxiety medications like valium.
Lower cholesterol with a citrus cure.
Some 40 million Americans take statins to keep their cholesterol levels in check. But bergamot extract, the citrus fruit extract that gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive flavor, offers even better results (sans side effects). According to Italian researchers, taking 500 to 1,000 mg. of bergamot extract can trim up to 87 points off your total cholesterol within 30 days — that’s a bigger result than statins offer. “It works by activating AMPK, a protein that regulates the production of cholesterol,” says Jeremy Johnson, PhD, of the University of Illinois at Chicago. One to try: Naomi Italian Citrus Bergamot (Buy on Amazon, $34.99).
Soothes headaches with a mint rub.
Next time you feel an impending twinge of head pain coming, try treating yourself a to a minty massage before heading to the medicine cabinet. A study in the journal Phytomedicine found that mint’s natural volatile oils calm pain nerves, relax spasming scalp muscles and reduce swelling, soothing head pain as effectively as taking 1,000 mg of acetaminophen. The best part: It comes without the side effects of OTC painkillers, like nausea and GI upset.
To do: Mix six drops of peppermint essential oil into a dollop of unscented lotion, then massage the blend into your neck, forehead and temples for five minutes.
Nix joint pain with porch time.
If your knees and hips are aching after a day of summer fun, grab a comfy seat on your porch swing. As you relax, focus on inhaling deeply through your nose then exhaling slowly through your mouth. According to research in The Journal of Neuroscience, a few minutes of deep breathing can reduce pain even more effectively than opioids. Plus, it costs nothing and is side effect-free! The reason it works: Researchers explain that focusing on your breath and letting any worries pass through your mind without dwelling on them lessens activity in the area of the brain linked to pain sensations, rapidly quelling joint discomfort.
Lose weight by pressing pause.
Great news: You don’t need to deprive yourself to reach your happy weight. All you need to do is slow down and savor each bite! It turns out that rushing through meals doesn’t give your brain enough time to register that your stomach is full, causing you to overindulge. But pausing for 15 seconds after each tasty bite allows your mind to register sensations of satiety, helping you effortlessly trim 200 calories from each meal — results researchers say are on par with some pricy prescription diet drugs!
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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