Does Grandma always know best?

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Grandma’s kitchen cures have endured the test of time because they often work! As scientific evidence supports ‘Dr Grandma’ everything old is new again. Naturopath Caroline Robertson explains.

Apple cider vinegar
I’ll never forget when my grandma coerced me to swallow a shot of vinegar and my hiccups miraculously vanished. Versatile vinegar is useful for beauty, health, and household issues. Affordable, effective and generally safe, apple cider vinegar should be diluted otherwise it can cause
oesophagitis, stomach ulcers and decay tooth enamel. The most therapeutic strain is apple cider vinegar (ACV) that’s raw, unprocessed, unfiltered and unpasteurized containing the mother. ACV is packed with pectin, probiotics, beneficial bacteria, acetic acid, and polyphenols. The acetic acid, lactic acid, succinic acid and citric acid in ACV have been shown to inhibit the growth of pimple-causing propionibacterium acnes. Clinically verified applications of ACV are as an antibacterial, antioxidant, alkaliser, hypoglycaemic, enzyme stimulant, digestive, skin tonic, cleanser, and deodoriser. Everyone seems to have a signature vinegar fix. Here are some sour solutions to common concerns:

Indigestion, gas or gastric reflux
1 tsp ACV with ½ cup warm water before meals.

High cholesterol and high blood sugar
30ml ACV diluted to 200ml with water before main meals. This resulted in a 36 per cent reduction in the overall sugar intake into the blood after a meal in a BBC 2 study.

Dirty surfaces
A mix of equal parts ACV and water with a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil leave surfaces sparkling clean. For polishing wood mix ½ cup of vinegar and ½ cup olive oil.

Dull hair
Combine 1 cup chamomile tea and 1 tbsp ACV. After conditioning rinse through hair for a shiny sheen.

Pigmented, spotty, scarred or oily skin
1 part ACV to 4 parts water. Apply to skin with a cotton pad rinsing off with warm water after ten minutes or leaving on if tolerable.

Coughs, colds, sore throats
Sip ¼ cup warm water with ¼ cup ACV and 1 dessertspoon honey.

Castor oil
Castor oil is a plant-derived lubricant and laxative. It oils joints, clears the colon, softens growths and soothes inflamed skin. Castor oil also heals ligaments through its ricinoleic acid and steroid precursor component. Try castor oil for constipation, cramps, period pain, fibroids, RSI, arthritis, dermatitis, and tendonitis. It can be applied on skin, hair, nails, and joints to heal dermatitis, cracks, degeneration and inflammation. A very light coat on eyebrows and hair acts as a glossy serum and promotes growth. For constipation take around 1 tbsp for adults and 1 tsp for children. For fibroids, period pain or cramps dip a tea towel in 100ml of warm castor oil and place over the affected area. Cover with glad wrap and place a hot water bottle then a towel over the area to increase absorption. Leave on for 30 minutes then rinse off.

Cod liver oil
Why take cod liver oil instead of fish oil? Fish oil has more omega 3 fatty acids but cod liver oil has extra vitamins A and D. An oldie but a goodie, cod liver oil has been a rheumatism and rickets remedy since 1789. Recent research concludes cod liver oil is useful for autoimmune conditions, inflammation, heart disease, high triglycerides, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, macular degeneration, diabetes, and cognitive disorders. Cod liver oil is incredibly nutritious; with a single teaspoon providing 90 percent of your daily requirements for vitamin A and 113 percent of your daily requirements for vitamin D. Vitamin A promotes healthy skin and eyes, while vitamin D boosts immunity and bones. If the fishy taste turns you off try an encapsulated or flavoured form. Cod liver oil can act as a blood thinner, so if you’re pregnant, asthmatic or on anticoagulants consult your health professional.

Nutritional yeast
If you want a tasty treat bursting with vitamin B, protein, magnesium, copper, manganese and selenium then consider nutritional yeast. This savoury vegan cheese is a saviour for pregnant women with 1tbsp containing 100 percent of their folic acid requirements. A deactivated yeast is grown on sugarcane or beet molasses, the nutritional yeast won’t ferment or feed candida. Its rich beta-1,3 glucan and glutathione enhances immunity and lowers cholesterol levels. Free from gluten, dairy, sugar, and preservatives flavoursome yeast flakes make a great low-salt seasoning for savoury dishes. Sprinkle flakes on popcorn, mashed potato, pasta, casseroles, and salads.

About Caroline Robertson
Caroline Robertson is a Sydney-based naturopath specialising in diet and digestion. For consultations contact
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