Hippocrates, the father of medicine, felt that everyone should drink
barley water daily to maintain good health. Barley is rich in iron and
vitamin B. It is said to help prevent tooth decay and hair loss, improve
fingernails and toenails, and help heal ulcers, diarrhea, and bronchial
Pearl or pearled barley has been milled. During the mill-
ing process, the double outer husk is removed, along with its nutrients. A
less-refined version is pot or Scotch barley. Once it's gone through a
less severe milling process,
part of the bran layer remains, along with some of the nutrients. Hulled
barley, with only the outer, inedible hull removed, is rich in dietary
fiber, and has more iron, trace minerals, and four times the thiamine (B1)
than pearled barley. It's available at some health food stores, as is
Scotch barley. If you can't get either, you will be able to get pearl
barley at your supermarket.
BARLEY WATER: Boil 2 ounces of barley in 6 cups of water (distilled water
if possible) until there's about half the water--3 cups--left in the pot.
Strain. If necessary, add honey and lemon to taste.
á coconut milk
To get the milk in the easiest way possible, you need an ice pick or a
screwdriver (Phillips, if possible), and a hammer. The coconut has three
little black eyelike bald spots on it. Place the ice pick or screwdriver
in the middle of one black spot, then hammer the end of it so that it
pierces the coconut. Repeat the procedure with the other two black spots
and then pour out the coconut milk. The hammer alone should then do the
trick on the rest of the coconut. Watch your fingers! (Also watch your
figure. Coconut meat is high in saturated fat.)
reminder: Always remove contact lenses before doing an eyewash.
You'll need an eye cup (available at drugstores). Carefully pour
just-boiled water over the cup to clean it. Then, without contaminating
the rim or inside surfaces of the cup, fill it half full with whichever
eyewash you've selected. Apply the cup tightly to the eye to prevent
spillage, then tilt your head backward. Open your eyelid wide and rotate
your eyeball to thoroughly wash the eye. Use the same procedure with the
á GARLIC JUICE
When a remedy calls for garlic juice, peel a clove of garlic, mince it
finely onto a piece of cheesecloth, then squeeze the juice out of it. A
garlic press will make the job easier.
á GINGER TEA
Peel or scrub a nub of fresh ginger and cut it into 3 to 5 quarter-size
pieces. Pour just-boiled water over it and let it steep for five to ten
minutes. If you want strong ginger tea, grate a piece of ginger, then
steep it, strain it, and drink it. TV personality and chef Ainsley
Harriott told us that he freezes ginger, making it easier to grate.
á HERBAL BATH
Besides offering a good relaxing time, the herbal bath can be extremely
healing. The volatile oils of the herbs are activated by the heat of the
water which also opens your pores, allowing for absorption of the herbs.
As you enjoy the bath, you're inhaling the herbs (aromatherapy), which
pass through the nervous system to the brain, benefiting both mind and
HERBAL BATH DIRECTIONS: Simply take a handful of one or a combination of
dried or fresh herbs and place them in the center of a white handkerchief.
Secure the herbs in the handkerchief by turning it into a little knapsack.
Toss the herb-filled knapsack into the tub and let the hot water fill the
tub until it reaches the level you want. When the water cools enough for
you to sit comfortably, do so.
After your bath, open the handkerchief and spread the herbs out to dry.
You can use them a couple times more.
Instead of using dried or fresh herbs, you can use herbal essential oils.
Oils cause the tub to be slippery. Be extra careful getting out of the
tub, and be sure to clean the tub thoroughly after you've taken the bath.
á HERBAL TEA
Place a teaspoon of the herb, or the herbal tea bag, in a glass or ceramic
cup and pour just-boiled water over it. (The average water-to-herb ratio
is 6 to 8 ounces of water to 1 round teaspoon of herb. There are
exceptions, so be sure to read the directions on the herbal tea package.)
According to the herbal tea company Lion Cross, never use water that has
been boiled before. The first boiling releases oxygen and the second
boiling results in "flat," lifeless tea.
Cover the cup and let the tea steep for the amount of time suggested on
the package. The general rule-of-thumb is: steep about three minutes for
flowers and soft leaves; about five minutes for seeds and leaves; about
ten minutes for hard seeds, roots, and barks. Of course, the longer the
tea steeps, the stronger it gets.
Strain the tea, or remove the tea bag. If you need to sweeten it, use raw
honey (never use sugar because it is said to negate the value of most
herbs), and when it's cool enough, drink it slowly.
The onion is in the same plant family as garlic and is almost as
versatile. The ancient Egyptians looked at the onion as the symbol of the
universe. It has been regarded as a universal healing food, used to treat
earaches, colds, fever, wounds, diarrhea, insomnia, warts, and the list
goes on. It is believed that a cut onion in a sickroom disinfects the air,
as it absorbs the germs in that room. Half an onion will help absorb the
smell of a just-painted room. With that in mind, you may not want to use a
cut piece of onion that has been in the kitchen for more than a day,
unless you wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it.
ONION JUICE: When a remedy calls for onion juice, grate an onion, put the
gratings in a piece of cheesecloth, and squeeze out the juice.
Raw, peeled, boiled, grated, and mashed potatoes; potato water; and potato
poultices all help heal, according to American, English, and Irish folk
medicine. In fact, a popular nineteenth-century Irish saying was, "Only
two things in this world are too serious to be jested on: potatoes and
The skin or peel of the potato is richer in fiber, iron, potassium,
calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and C and B vitamins than the inside of the
potato. Always leave the skin on when preparing potato water, but scrub it
Do not use potatoes that have a green tinge. The greenish coloring is a
warning that there may be a high concentration of solanine, a toxic
alkaloid that can affect nerve impulses and cause vomiting, cramps, and
diarrhea. The same goes for potatoes that have started to sprout. They're
POTATO WATER: Scrub 2 medium-size potatoes (use organic whenever possible)
and cut them in half. Put the
4 halves in a pot with 4 cups of water (filtered, spring, or distilled, if
possible) and bring to a boil. Lower the flame a little and let it cook
for thirty minutes. Take out the potatoes (eating them is optional) and
save the water. Most remedies say to drink 2 cups of potato water.
Refrigerate the leftover water for next time.
Excerpted from More Chicken Soup & Other Folk Remedies by Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen. Copyright © 2000 by Joan Wilen and Lydia Wilen. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.