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Kitchen cupboard remedies

Reading time: 7 minutes

From cough- and cold-soothing syrups to anti-itch body creams, nutritional health coach Lizzie King shares a collection of her tried-and-tested natural remedies to help combat the rigors of modern living.

Our world is glittering with natural ingredients. Botanicals have been used for millennia as remedies without damaging side effects for us or our planet, but in recent times they have been overlooked in favor of commercial, convenient and synthetic products, and so the health of our ecosystem and its biodiversity have been impacted.

Originally created for me and my family to thrive in optimal health, these are the ways I’ve found that we can enlist the natural world to help—a holistic approach from the inside out and the outside in. From tonics that aid sleep to balms for anxiety, from syrups for avoiding seasonal lurgies or coping with a sick bug to fizzing bath bombs, from edible face masks to lickable kitchen sprays, they have proven their efficacy time and time again through my lovely community on my blog Lizzie Loves Healthy. They benefit our whole selves with health for now and future-proofing for us all.

This is a compendium of my findings. I hope you fall in love with making them, eating them, healing from them and giving them to others. 


Elderberries were my first-ever foray into plucking ingredients from the hedgerows to bubble up for my family’s health. The elderberry has always been prized for its antiviral and antimicrobial properties—so much so that there was a global shortage recently.

I had been pouring the sticky elderberry derivative into my children for years when I realized I could make a better version at home with more fresh antioxidants. The dark color of the Sambucus nigra, providing precious anthocyanins, is where all the antiviral properties lie.

This eventually led to my Be Well remedy, but this purple goodness is where it all started. Spoon it out in winter and notice how the cough and cold season just doesn’t hit you in the same way.

Makes about 1 L


  • 150 g (5 oz or 1 cup) elderberries, rinsed (or 2 elderberry and echinacea tea bags—I love Pukka brand)
  • 5 cm (1 in.) gingerroot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • zest and juice of ½ orange
  • 750 mL (25 fl oz or 3 cups) boiling water
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • 90 g (3¼ oz or ¼ cup) raw honey


  1. Put the elderberries (or the teabags) in a small saucepan and add the ginger, cinnamon, cloves and orange zest.
  2. Pour over the water, then place over a low heat and simmer gently for 20–30 minutes, until reduced to roughly half the volume.
  3. Leave to cool slightly, then stir in the orange and lemon juices and the honey.
  4. Strain and pour into a glass jar or bottle.

Storage: Store in the jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Dose: 2 teaspoons per child per day for children aged one to two; 1 tablespoon per child per day for children over two; 1 tablespoon three or four times a day for adults.

Note: Honey is not suitable for children under one year.


Used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years because of its powerful ability to draw toxins and chemicals out of the body, charcoal has been used to treat accidental poisoning in the West for a long time, too.

When I first mixed this up, I was hoping for a miracle, and I got one: a bout of nausea, vomiting and diarrhea stopped in its tracks. It is now part of my Be Settled range of remedies; we often get asked to send it out by Uber for emergencies.

Makes about 300 mL (10½ fl oz or 1¼ cups)


  • 1 tsp mint leaves
  • 300 mL (10½ fl oz or 1¼ cups) boiling water
  • 1 tsp activated charcoal (use the capsules and pull apart)


  1. Put the mint leaves in a mug and pour over the boiling water.
  2. Leave to cool, then strain out the leaves and stir in the activated charcoal. Sip slowly as needed.

 Storage: Make fresh as required.

Dose: Use no more than once a day.

Note: It can bind to regular medication, like the contraceptive pill, and other nutrients, so daily use is not advised.


As a child I spent many hours in the ENT department at the hospital and rode through many an antibiotic cycle as a result. My son took on my ear infection propensity, but I attempted to steer us away from endless antibiotics when I could. I found these ear drops, used at the very first signs, were often effective at quelling the onset.

Makes 2 fl oz


  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp cooled boiled water


  1. Mix the two liquids together in a clean cup.
  2. With the person lying on their side with the affected ear facing up, soak a cotton ball in the liquid, place it in the ear and leave to sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the cotton and let any residual liquid drain out. Pat dry with a towel.

Storage: Make fresh as required.

Dose: Use a couple of times a day as needed.


This tonic can be kept in the freezer in ice-cube trays so that when you need it, you can just add one to hot water and go, with none of the prep.

Turmeric is an intense, orange-colored root that Ayurveda has prized for its powerful healing properties for centuries. Recent studies have confirmed its cancer-protective and antiviral properties. Along with ginger, vitamin C–rich citrus and throat-soothing honey, this is a fiercely combative combination that helps me through coughs, colds and flu.

Makes 6–13 doses


  • 5 cm (3 in.) turmeric root, peeled
  • 5 cm (3 in.) ginger root, peeled
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 1 orange, peeled
  • hot water
  • raw honey to taste
  • grind of black pepper


  1. In a juicer, juice together the turmeric, ginger, lemon and orange to yield about 200 mL (7 fl oz or a scant 1 cup) of juice.
  2. To use it immediately, put 1–2 tablespoons of the juice in a cup and add an equal amount of hot water, stirring in honey to taste and adding a grind of pepper.
  3. To save it for later, pour the juice into ice-cube trays and freeze, then pop the cubes into a freezer bag (it’ll take up less space). Each frozen cube equals one dose. To administer a dose, thaw and add the hot water, honey and pepper.

Storage: Freeze for up to 12 months.

Dose: Repeat two to four times a day as needed.

Note: Honey is not suitable for children under one year.


The natural antihistamine of bromelain and quercetin in pineapple work so well together here with the citrus vitamin C and the extra power from the reishi mushroom, which reduces antibody response and works to ease the sniffling, eye watering and itching of allergy season.

Makes about 540 g (20 fl oz)


  • 210 g (7½ oz or 1 cup) peeled and chopped pineapple (core included)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp reishi mushroom powder
  • 250 mL (9 fl oz or a generous 1 cup) milk of choice


  1. Blend together all the ingredients in a powerful food processor until evenly blended.
  2. Pour into a glass and serve immediately.
  3. Alternatively, freeze in large ice-cube trays, then pop them into freezer bags (they’ll take up less room) for whenever you need them. You can even serve them as popsicles when the summer heat is all too much. 

Storage: Freeze for up to 3 months.

Dose: Use as needed.


Tension headaches and migraines are one of the most common reasons for a visit to the doctor, and I see the debilitation they can cause.

While the simplest respite can be found in a large glass of water, there are longer-term lifestyle tweaks that might help individuals—for example, reducing stress levels and caffeine intake.

Magnesium has been shown to alleviate the tension and constriction that can cause headaches, and this magnesium-rich drink was designed to bring relief.

Makes about 2 cups


  • juice of 2 grapefruits
  • 1 handful of spinach leaves (frozen works too)
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • handful of ice cubes


  1. Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender for 2–3 minutes.
  2. Drink immediately.

Storage: Make fresh as required.

Dose: Use daily as needed.

Tip: Migraine relief can be found by creating a stronger magnesium tonic. Gently mix 2 tablespoons of magnesium citrate with warm water, being careful that the mixture does not fizz out of the glass. Drink immediately and rest.


A sock full of rice is one of the simplest ideas I came across while researching ways to relieve tummy pains. It creates a damp heat rather than a dry one and so is also really effective for muscular aches, with a useful shape for necks, lower backs and knees.

Makes 1 reusable sock


  • 1 large thermal sock
  • 1 kg (36 oz or 5 cups) uncooked white rice


  1. Place the sock inside a vase or jug and fold the top over the edges of it. Pour in rice until the sock is three-quarters full. Tie to close, or sew shut if you prefer.
  2. Heat the oven to 160°C (320°F/gas 3). Place the sock in a large casserole dish on the top shelf of the oven, with a second dish full of water below to increase the humidity and prevent burning. Heat for 20–30 minutes, checking occasionally on the sock temperature. It should be warm to the touch but not too hot to handle.
  3. Curl up with the warm sock on your tummy to relieve aches and pains. 

Storage: Keep in a dry place for up to 3 months.

Dose: Use as required.

Tip: This doubles as an ice pack; simply place it in the freezer.


Rough, red hands caused by harsh soaps or raw eczema patches can be hard to combat without resorting to brutal, skin-thinning hydrocortisone treatments. Oats are an emollient and also soothe any itching. For the porridge lovers, it’s an extra joy that breakfast can be one of the healing ingredients.

Makes about 400 g (14 oz) 


200 g (7 oz or a scant 1⅔ cups) oatmeal

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 200 mL (7 fl oz or a scant 1 cup) coconut oil
  • 5 drops rosemary essential oil (or 1 sprig of rosemary, finely chopped)


  1. Put the oats (and rosemary, if using fresh) into a powerful blender and grind to a powder.
  2. Add the olive oil and coconut oil and pulse until warmed up and thinning.
  3. Add the rosemary oil and blend until combined.
  4. Pour into a jar with a lid and let it cool until solid. Use on any dry skin, eczema or itchy patches.

Storage: Stays fresh for 3–6 months.

Dose: Use as required.

Adapted from Restore: Ancient Remedies from the Modern Kitchen by Lizzie King (Welbeck Publishing, 2023)

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Article Topics: Anti-itch cream, Cold, cough
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