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Most interesting medical home remedies used in Malta

by Yellow 24 Days

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Many of us have memories of our grandmother preparing a warm cup of tea with lemon and telling us to drink up to cure a sore throat. Or of our parents putting tea bags on our eyes when we returned home from school with a nasty case of conjunctivitis. 

Over the years we all came across some form of medical home remedy. Some of  these solutions, like putting onions in your socks to reduce fever, are giggle-worthy. But others have stood the test of time and are vouched for by generations - no matter how absurd they might sound. Here are some of the home remedies that people in Malta are using, believe it or not!


COUGHS AND COLDS

Għasel bil-lumi

You’ll need: A piece of ginger (peeled), 1 litre water, 2 or 3 tea bags (depending on taste), juice of one lemon, 3 tablespoons honey

Place the ginger in the water and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the tea bags for about 5 minutes. Remove the ginger and add the lemon juice and the honey. Serve as is or with lemon wedges. This can be enjoyed warm or at room temperature.


Whisky, lemon & honey 

You’ll need: 2 tablespoons whiskey, 1 tablespoon honey, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, 1/4 cup boiling water

Known by many as a ‘hot toddy’ this remedy is popular in Malta. Make yourself a cough-busting concoction by pouring the boiling water into a mug then adding the rest of the ingredients. Prepare yourself for a good, deep sleep once you drink up. 


Ġulepp tal-Ħarrub

You’ll need: 1 kilo carob pods, 1 kilo sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Remove twigs from the carob pods and wash them well. Spread them on a baking tray and roast them. Once they cool break them into smaller pieces and soak them overnight in about 2 litres of water. The next morning bring the same water to a boil and allow it to simmer for at last 30 minutes. Drain the liquid, pressing the pods to extract as much goodness as possible, then discard the pods. Add the sugar and cloves and boil for another 30 minutes. Allow to cool and pour the syrup into jars. When you need a healthy kick, dilute a couple of tablespoons of the syrup in warm water and drink. 


Onion in socks

You’ll need: 1 onion 

This is a much less appetising remedy, but some people still use it. This method involves slicing an onion into rounds, placing them at the bottom of your feet and wearing socks over them before your sleep. The next morning you should be cured. Or so they say. You might need to opt for the toothpaste remedy mentioned further down to get rid of the onion stench. 


CRAMPS, GAS & KIDNEY STONES

Eat more bananas

You’ll need: a couple of bananas

If you’re prone to leg cramps, you must have been told to eat more bananas. And it makes sense. Muscle cramps are sometimes caused by low potassium levels, and bananas are rich in potassium. So bananas can help reduce the cramps.


Soap under your sheet 

You’ll need: a bar of soap 

As illogical as it may sound, some people swear by this remedy to cure nocturnal leg cramps. Place a bar of soap between the mattress and the sheet on the lower end of the bed. At least it will smell better than putting an onion in your socks. 


Xkattapietra for kidney stones

You’ll need: 2 handfuls of xkattapietra (a local plant, known as Maltese Savory, with purple flowers), 1.5 pints water

Here comes a remedy that has been handed down through generations. Pour one and a half pints of boiling water onto two generous handfuls of the plant, which is frequently found in Maltese valleys and rocky areas. Drink a tot of the mixture about three times a day to get rid of kidney stones. 


Bay leaf tea to relieve gas 

You’ll need: 2 cups water, 3 large dry bay leaves, 1-inch piece lemon peel (optional), honey (optional)

The bay leaf, very common in Malta, has been used medicinally around the world to soothe the stomach and relieve gas and abdominal cramping. Prepare the tea by bringing the water to a boil. Add the bay leaves and lemon rind and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Sweeten to taste and serve.


EYES & MOUTH 

Ground cloves to relieve tooth ache 

You’ll need: 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon olive oil

Put the tip of a teaspoon of ground cloves in a small bowl and mix with a quarter teaspoon olive oil. Dip a cotton swap in the mixture and apply it gently on the painful tooth and surrounding gum. Leave it on for about 20 minutes then rinse your mouth with warm salt water.


Tea to cure eye infection

You’ll need: a tea bag, a mug of boiled water

Tea leaves contain anti-bacterial properties, which can help cure the eye infection and reduce redness. Make the tea by soaking a tea bag (ideally black tea) in freshly boiled water. Remove the tea bag from the water and allow it to cool, then place it on the affected area for about 10 minutes. You could also dip cotton wool in the lukewarm tea mixture and wipe the eye area gently.


SKIN 

Oatmeal bath for eczema 

You’ll need: 1 cup of powdered oatmeal

Oatmeal is great at soothing the itchiness of eczema -  a condition that causes skin to become red and itchy. Grind oatmeal into a fine power. Run a lukewarm water and add about 1 cup of powdered oatmeal to the tub and stir with your hands. Soak in it for about 10 minutes. Rinse with warm water and pat gently with a towel to dry. 


Toothpaste to eliminate odours

You’ll need: toothpaste

If you’ve been handling foul-smelling things, like fish or onions, it might be difficult to get rid of the smell. Sometimes it feels like the horrendous stench seeps into the skin. To get rid of the odour rub toothpaste into your hands then rinse off with warm water.


Milk to sooth sunburn 

You’ll need: 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup ice cubes

If you’ve been spending too much time in the sun and you’ve run out of after-sun lotion worry not - you have a remedy in your fridge. The fat, protein and pH levels in milk result in a soothing anti-inflammatory. So mix equal parts of milk, water and ice cubes in a bowl. Soak a clean cloth in the mixture and hold the cloth on the sore area for about five minutes.


MOTHER & BABY

Cabbage leaves for engorgement

You’ll need: 1 cabbage

Placing cold cabbage leaves on your breasts can relieve pain when breasts are sore from engorgement and can also help reduce flow when you plan to stop breastfeeding. Place the cabbage in the fridge. Once cool, remove the outer layer of leaves. Pull off two leaves and rinse them in cold water (to ensure they’re clean). Hold the leaves on your breasts until the leaves warm up. Throw away the wilted leaves and repeat this process as necessary.


Olive oil for cradle cap 

You’ll need: olive oil (or other natural oil)

Many babies suffer from cradle cap, when their scalp turns flaky and dry. Forget the fancy ointments! For years our grandmothers have been soothing this cracked skin by applying olive oil, or any other natural oil like almond oil, and leaving it on for about 20 minutes before washing it off with a gentle shampoo. 



Why not try out some of these home remedies? Simply head down to one of the supermarkets and discount stores listed on Yellow to get what you need. If you prefer opting for the more medicinal type of remedy you’ll find a list of pharmacies to pick from.

Discover natural, discover local - www.yellow.com.mt 

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