Pantry remedies

Article written in collaboration with Manon Viger, nurse, naturopath and herbalist

Our grandmothers knew what to do when someone at home started coughing or suffering from a skin condition. They were able to find remedies in the garden, fields or pantry; or even in the very agile hands that know how to bring their own daughters’ babies into the world. Today, we are very pleased that this knowledge is starting to reappear through alternative healthcare approaches. It’s now easy to find books on the topic and consult with graduates in these traditional fields.

When I was little, my mother didn’t give me Tylenol when I had a fever, she’d prepare a herbal tea with common yarrow” (achillea millefolium). What a terrible taste for the sweet tooth I had! However, it really worked. Today, I can’t help but to pick, dry and keep a small reserve of yarrow. You never know…
Guylaine Cliche

Certain food products easily found at home are not only nutritious but also have properties that can help alleviate various health problems. You know, your grandma’s great remedies…


Garlic boosts your immune system and helps you fight infections, especially lung infections. For optimal effect, eat it raw. We recommend adding it to dressings or to your meal at the end of cooking to preserve its healing properties. Like cruciferous vegetables, garlic is an excellent antioxidant and prevents cancer. It also helps to fight cardiovascular diseases and control blood sugar levels. In the past, when someone would contract a lung infection, they would be given a garlic sandwich. If you want to benefit from this sandwich without dealing with garlic’s strong taste, you can replace the bread with apple slices, between which you can place thin slices of garlic. Your friends may keep their distance the next day, but at least you’ll stand a better chance of beating the infection, and you won’t infect them.

Good to know

Just like onions, garlic contains a sulphur compound that your body eliminates through the respiratory system. That’s why your breath changes when you eat it, but it’s also why these two vegetables work well to combat respiratory ailments. If you eat a lot of garlic, but you don’t want to have bad breath, we suggest placing a small drop of peppermint oil on the back of your tongue. It’ll freshen your breath and clear your sinuses right away. Another great remedy for people who have a cold.


In the same family as garlic, onions also have significant antioxidant properties. Not only are onions rich in minerals and vitamins C and B, but they also help control blood sugar levels.

What happens when you peel and cut onions? Your eyes tear up and your nose starts running. Onions have beneficial impacts on the ENT area (ear, nose and throat). Onions are widely used by our grandmothers to heal colds, but they’re also commonly used today to create a foot poultice. It’s simple: thinly slice onions, insert them in your socks and keep them on overnight. It’s a bit like a medical ointment you would apply to your skin, but instead of absorbing medicine made with chemical products, your skin will absorb the beneficial properties of onions. This method can even be used without risk on young children. If you don’t want to sleep in socks filled with onions, you can soak your feet for about 30 minutes in a bath made with onions and boiling water. Of course, make sure you wait for the water to have cooled down a bit before soaking your feet in, or add some cold water. What’s more, you can use the translucent film found between the thicker layers of onions as an antiseptic on a wound. Just apply it to the wounded area using a bandage.


When eating carbs (whether sweet treats or cereal-based foods), try adding cinnamon to your dish to help your body stabilize its blood sugar levels and slow down its assimilation of sugars.

Cinnamon also has significant antibacterial and antiviral properties. To heal a throat infection, you can place a drop of cinnamon oil and thyme oil on the back of your tongue.

Good to know

If possible, use Ceylon cinnamon found in natural product stores. Its beneficial properties are proven.

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables help fight cancer. Cabbage is inexpensive, rich in minerals and high in vitamins K, B and C. It keeps most of its nutritional properties even when it’s cooked, except for vitamin C, which is more sensitive to heat. We recommend eating cabbage salads often.

Used locally, cabbage has an incredible anti-inflammatory effect. It reduces swelling in joints, such as the knee or ankle. It can also help breastfeeding women suffering from breast engorgement.

Cabbage can also help to heal gastric and duodenal ulcers. Simply extract its juice using a juicer and drink it before meals. If you find its taste difficult to handle, add a piece of apple while preparing your juice.


Known for its antioxidant properties, ginger is used to combat fatigue and nausea. It’s also used as an aphrodisiac. Ginger alleviates problems related to slow digestion as well as cold and flu symptoms.

If you have a cough, a herbal tea made with ginger, lemon and honey can soothe you considerably. If you want to add it to your diet, grate it into your salad dressings or add pieces to your smoothies.

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