Going natural isn't just for hippies and greenies anymore. These alternative treatments for common ailments are widely available.
Dandruff — tea tree oil
Tea tree oil can do the trick in wiping out dandruff's white flakes naturally. Derived from plant leaves native to Australia, it has been used for centuries as an antiseptic and antifungal agent. Today, tea tree oil is found in shampoos, soaps and creams. While not many studies have been done on it, one found that tea tree oil shampoo significantly reduced dandruff.
Migraines — acupuncture
Anyone who's had migraine headaches knows you'd try almost anything to make them go away. For many, that includes the ancient Chinese practice of inserting thin needles into specific parts of the body. Studies have supported its use. The largest, published in the March 2006 The Lancet Neurology, found that acupuncture
may be as effective as traditional medicines in treating migraines.
Insomnia — yoga
Can't sleep? Relax, take a deep breath and stretch. Doing yoga at least three times a week might help you. Yoga's deep breathing and meditation techniques clear the body of stress, making it easier to fall asleep. And unlike some sleep pills, it won't leave you feeling groggy the next morning. Although yoga is widely recommended to treat insomnia, scientific proof is sparse.
St. John's wort
Sometimes referred to as herbal Prozac, small European studies have concluded that St. John's wort (hypericum perforatum) is useful in treating mild depression, but not severe depression. Be careful, though. The product interacts poorly with some medications and may reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills, which could be depressing to some.
Back pain —
One in five U.S. adults has tried chiropractic treatment, according to a 2002 survey. Most seek a chiropractor for back pain, neck pain or headaches. The idea is that when the spine, or another body part, is out of whack, the body can't heal itself. And here's the good part: Unlike most alternative medicine, many insurance policies cover chiropractic care. Just be sure to find a qualified practitioner. U.S. chiropractors must hold a doctor of chiropractic, or D.C., from properly accredited colleges.
Indigestion — peppermint
If a night of overeating and drinking gives you indigestion, you might think about grabbing some of those restaurant mints on the way out. They can help a stomach ache. Try chewing on peppermint leaves after a big meal or sipping on mint tea. Several studies suggest that peppermint oil, which comes in capsule or liquid form, may improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. A few studies have found that, when combined with caraway oil, peppermint oil may help relieve indigestion, but evidence is preliminary.
Premenstrual syndrome — chasteberry
Taking chasteberry can reduce symptoms of PMS, including breast tenderness, irritability, depressed mood and headache. Also known as monk's pepper, chasteberry has been used for more than 2,500 years for gynecological conditions. Recently, studies have suggested that the berry of the chaste tree can stimulate progesterone production, which, in turn, stabilizes hormone levels and makes you feel better. And studies say it doesn't dull libido.
Sunburn — aloe vera
After a long day at the beach, many use aloe vera for relief. It dates to ancient Egypt, where the plant was given as a burial gift to pharaohs. Today,
studies have shown that aloe gel can help burns as well as abrasions. The gel, which is squeezed from the leaves of the aloe plant, is antibacterial and stimulates the immune system.