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The quick guide to home remedies (natural remedies)

The quick guide to home remedies

     All parents treat their children at home for one reason or another. Whether their children are sick with colds, coughs and stomach complaints, are experiencing pain from teething, are having trouble sleeping, or are going through any other difficult time, parents want to make things right. The remedies may be over-the-counter medicines purchased at the local pharmacy, or they may be traditional or natural treatments used in the native culture of the families. In order for you to have a better understanding of what treatments are being used at your patients’ homes, a survey about home remedies was conducted in the waiting rooms of various clinics and in the waiting room of Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center’s pediatric emergency room in the summer of 1999.

This pamphlet is a summary of the results from 29 surveys, with additional information from the referenced resources. These products are sold in pharmacies and bot├ínicas, or made at home from readily available ingredients. You will find the names of familiar herbs, the names of medicines manufactured in and imported from the Dominican Republic, and the names of common items found in everybody’s kitchen.

Aloe Vera

Uses: 2 participants of this survey use aloe vera to treat asthma and colds.
Properties: Aloe vera gel is a thin, clear, jelly-like material obtained from the inner part of the leaf. It is used both externally and internally for its wound-healing properties and as a cure-all. It is described as a “cleanser, anesthetic, antiseptic, antipyretic, antipruritic, nutrient, moisturizer, and vasodilator” (1).
Preparation and Method of Application: The participants of this survey use aloe vera gel internally. The American Pharmaceutical Association states that the gel can be taken in doses of 1 tablespoon up to 3 times a day. 1 participant puts aloe vera in a glass jar with honey and onions, and lets it sit for a while before giving the remedy to her child. The other participant uses aloe vera in combination with onions, honey, lemon, green apples, and witch hazel.
Where to buy it: Aloe vera plants can be purchased in botánicas. The other ingredients are available in food stores and pharmacies.


Uses: Honey is used by 5 participants for various reasons. The reasons include constipation, cough, congestion and asthma.
Properties; Honey does not really possess any therapeutic value, but it is still used in folk medicines for its soothing effects, especially in cough remedies (1). - Preparation and Method of Application: For coughs, 1 participant makes a tealike drink out of honey, garlic and onions (she boils the ingredients in water and then strains them). For coughs, another participant makes a drink out of honey, radishes, onion and watercress. For asthma, 1 participant makes a remedy using honey, lemon, radishes, and baby onions (she puts the ingredients in a blender or chops everything). For congestion, 1 participant makes a drink by boiling onions, honey and salt.
Where to buy it: All of the ingredients can be purchased in food stores.
Safety and Efficacy: The American Pharmaceutical Association states that honey “appears to be relatively effective and safe when used in recommended amounts…according to a number of well-designed studies and common use” (4).
Warnings and Precautions: Given the risk for contamination with Clostridium botulinum spores, which can cause botulism, honey should not be given to infants under one year old (4). In addition, when using onions as part of the remedy, a batch of the remedy should be prepared that will last no more than three days (to prevent the onions from going bad).

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