Alternatively Speaking: Fighting fire with flora

Alternative medicine enthusiast Natalie Marx answers your questions: Any natural remedies for treating burns?

Burn on arm 390 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Burn on arm 390
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Q. Hi Natalie, I recently burnt myself and am suffering from a minor burn but a very painful one! Do you have any advice for treating burns using natural remedies? Thank you.
A. The calendula flower has excellent antiseptic properties that are beneficial in reducing inflammation on the human body. I highly recommend using it as an external treatment for burns.
You can either purchase calendula ointment or make your own compress. To do this, steep dried calendula flowers (1tsp) in one cup of boiling water for five to ten minutes. Use a cloth to compress the liquid on the area of the burn to help relieve the pain.
Perhaps the most commonly used plant for burns is Aloe Vera, also known as the "cooling plant." Aloe Vera has in fact been used to cure burns and cuts for many centuries. Once applied generously to the wound, it can help prevent any contamination and reduce the heat. If you have access to an Aloe Vera plant, cut a mature leaf and peel the outer skin. You can rub the jelly directly onto the wound. Alternatively, Aloe Vera gel can be bought in most good health stores; try to find an unstabalized gel.
Finally, chamomile is another simple and soothing remedy for minor burns. Chamomile is packed with both anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. You can either apply chamomile lotion directly or apply a compress soaked in chamomile tea to the burnt area several times a day for relief.
Q. Natalie, my daughter is 15 and is suffering from terrible cramping pains during her period. Our GP has suggested she tries taking the contraceptive pill to help ease the pain. I believe this is too young and would like to try to the natural way. Can you help?
A. I suggest your daughter begins by taking a daily supplement of Evening Primrose Oil. The body converts GLA (gamma-lineolic acid) into prostaglandins which acts just as hormones do to regulate muscle contraction. It is believed that those women suffering from severe cramping may be lacking in GLA. According to the UMMC she should take between 500 and 1000 mg of the standardized extract daily.
Raspberry leaf tea is another effective remedy to reduce menstrual cramps. Raspberry leaf contains pycnogenol that helps ease uterine muscle contractions. I recommend including more magnesium in your daughter's diet, or including a magnesium supplement. Magnesium helps to reduce cramping in the body by relaxing muscles and improving the absorption of calcium. Foods containing magnesium are dark leafy vegetables, mixed nuts, brown rice, whole grain bread and cold water fish.
Eating foods such as yogurt, cheese and kale, which are all high in calcium, will also help prevent cramping since it helps to maintain a string muscle tone. Levels of calcium absorption vary during menstruation so taking together with magnesium should help to reduce any cramping.
Q. I wonder if you can help, I have recently developed fungus on my big toenail. Can you recommend anything natural to get rid of this?
A. It is particularly important to keep your feet clean, especially in winter when we wear closed shoes most of the time and may not realize when our feet are sweating. Try to wear 100 percent cotton socks and air and wash your feet when you can.
Acidophilus replenishes the "good" bacteria that inhibit pathogens such as fungi. Take one capsule daily until the fungi disappears. Zinc too is essential for good immunity; it will help heal skin tissue and inhibit fungi growth.
The most popular remedy is garlic. Garlic has excellent antibacterial properties. It's one of the best natural anti fungals. Include more garlic in your diet or take a garlic supplement. Try applying garlic topically to the toenail. Crush the garlic and rub it onto the infected area two or three times daily.
The anti-bacterial properties in tea tree make it an excellent choice of topical ointment for nail fungi. You can make a therapeutic foot soak by adding several drops of tea tree oil into a foot bath with warm water. Another option is to apply the oil directly to the toe using a cotton pad. Lastly, the homeopathic remedy Silica is the number one homeopathic solution for fungi. Depending on the severity of the fungi take one 30c tablet three times daily until the condition improves.
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments.

This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.

Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question at [email protected].

Someone Once Said: ‘Life is not merely being alive, but being well.’ - Martial, 66 AD, Epigrams