Food is good natural remedies, and not just in the self-medicating-with-chocolate way. "Not only are whole foods rich in vitamins and minerals, but they're also loaded with phytonutrients that support the immune system, decreaseinflammation in the body, and ward off chronic diseases," says Michelle Babb, R.D., owner of Eat.Play.Be, a nutrition consulting business in Seattle. So next time you're suffering from jet lag, a sleepless night, or any of these other ills, just remember: There's a snack for that. Check out these effective home natural remedies from the experts.
Swallow this: Honey
Here's more proof that honey is nature's sweetest treat. Studies have found that it can help alleviate a scratchy throat and hack attacks. "This probably has a lot to do with the antibacterial and antioxidant properties of honey," says Babb. Stir two teaspoons of honey into warm water or herbal tea, and sip a cup every two to three hours as needed. "Some studies suggest that manuka honey [a variety produced in New Zealand and Australia from a tree of the same name] and darker varieties like buckwheat may have the strongest antibacterial properties," says Babb.
Other Ways to Dose Yourself: Mix into yogurt, salad dressings, and smoothies; use in baked goods in place of the processed white stuff; drizzle over roasted vegetables.
Swallow this: Kiwi
When shut-eye is hard to come by—and women are more likely than men to toss and turn all night—this fuzzy fruit may help you conk out faster. Researchers at a Taiwanese university found that women who ate two kiwis one hour before bedtime for a month fell asleep 14 minutes faster and had better sleep duration and quality than those who didn't eat the fruit. One possible explanation: Noshing on the sweet green flesh before hitting the sack may boost levels of serotonin, a sleep-inducing neurotransmitter that delivers an express ticket to dreamland.
Other Ways to Dose Yourself: Chop and add to fruit salads and salsas; puree and mix into smoothies and fruit drinks; slice for a tart topping.
Swallow this: Pumpkin seeds
If your brain often feels like it's been in a fender bender, reach for a handful of these seeds, also known (adorably) as pepitas. They're a leading source of magnesium, a mineral whose deficiency is common in individuals with increased migraine frequency. The connection, it has been surmised, is that low levels of magnesium may increase constriction of blood vessels surrounding the brain, contributing to those skull-busters. To try to help quell the jackhammer, munch your way through a quarter cup of the green seeds daily, an amount that provides about half of your magnesium needs.
Other Ways to Dose Yourself: Sprinkle a handful into oatmeal and salads to add some crunch; bake into desserts; make into pesto.
Swallow this: Almonds
If the monthly run-up to your period makes you nuts, the solution may be. . .more nuts. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that women with the highest intakes of riboflavin from food sources such as almonds were 35 percent less likely to develop PMS, including killer cramps and brain fog, than those who took in the lowest amounts. "Riboflavin is involved in boosting certain neurotransmitters that might be involved in reducing PMS symptoms," says study author Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, Ph.D. Two ounces of almonds, or about 40 nuts, delivers more than 30 percent of your daily riboflavin needs.
Other Ways to Dose Yourself: Add to cereal, yogurt, and cooked quinoa or rice; garnish green beans and asparagus; use as a crunchy coating for fish or chicken.
Swallow this: Tart cherries
Pucker up! Tart cherries—not to be confused with sweet varieties like bing—and their juice can help counteract one of the pitfalls of air travel (you're still on your own when it comes to fighting for the armrest). The fruit is an edible source of melatonin, a hormone that assists in resetting your sleep and wake cycles so you're tired when it gets dark and chipper when the sun rises. The day of your flight, eat a handful of dried tart cherries or down a glass of 100 percent tart cherry juice. Do the same after dark for the first couple of days at your destination. Bonus: The vitamin A in tart cherries can bolster your immune health, which is also beneficial when spending time on a plane.
Other Ways to Dose Yourself: Toss into granola and pilafs; mix the juice into a smoothie or with club soda.
Swallow this: Beans
They really are good for your heart—not to mention your digestive system. A study in the journal Gut found that people who ate a high-fiber diet were about 20 percent less likely to report symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease, including heartburn. "Fiber could help move food out of the stomach faster, reducing the opportunity for reflux," says study researcher Hashem B. El-Serag, M.D., M.P.H., chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Baylor College of Medicine.
Other Ways to Dose Yourself: Stuff beans into a vegetarian burrito or quesadilla; stir into soup; mash for dip.