10 home remedies that really work. Really.
We all have them: Home remedies that have been passed down—grandmother to mother, mother to so. So often we don’t question their legitimacy. But do they really work? We asked the experts and found 10 that actually do.
1. Sleepless? Dairy does the trick
If you’ve ever had a long night of tossing and turning, you’ll be happy to know that one of the most common solutions for getting some z’s happens to be true. Milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan. It is converted naturally by the body as the sleep-inducing hormone serotonin.
Why drink it warm? Because the warmer temperature will help to relax you, allowing the serotonin to work more effectively. And, if you would rather avoid liquids before bed, tryptophan can also be found in cottage cheese, turkey, chicken and tuna.
2. Nauseated? Ginger will snap you out of it
When you were young and had the flu, did your mom give you ginger ale or a ginger snap cookie? Ginger has been used for centuries in Asian medicine for treating nausea, upset stomach and diarrhea. But most ginger ales contain little, if any, actual ginger.
For the best results, try boiling a few slices of ginger root into a tea. Many stores also carry it in powder or tablets that are easily stored until needed.
3. Blisters? Make them minty fresh
You may gargle with it, but Listerine is also good for treating blisters. Dab some on your blister with a cotton ball three times a day. The antiseptic in the popular mouthwash will dry it up and speed healing.
4. Headache? Chew on this
If you suffer from tension headaches, don’t just reach for the aspirin bottle. Try doing what your teachers always scolded you for—chew a pencil.
The cause of many headaches is tension in our teeth and jaws. It gets worse when we clench because of anxiety or stress. If you feel a headache begin, hold a pencil gently in your teeth without biting down hard.
This will ease the tension in your jaw and cut the headache off at its source. (And don’t worry; contrary to popular belief, pencils are not made of lead.)
5. Got a Cold? Soup’s on
One of the most common home remedies for the common cold is chicken soup. And with good reason—it works!
According to many studies, chicken soup has anti-inflammatory properties, opening up your airways. It also speeds up mucus produced by your body. This relieves congestion and limits contact with the virus causing the cold.
6. Sore Throat? Spice it up
To relieve your sore, scratchy throat, gargle with a mix of cayenne pepper and water. One of the ingredients in the spice—capsaicin—is actually used in many topical pain medications.
When gargled with water, the capsaicin can desensitize the inflamed throat tissue. But be warned: You’ll most likely experience burning and stinging on initial contact.
7. Hiccups? Swallow sugar
If you’ve got hiccups, try swallowing a teaspoon of sugar. That’s it. You should feel relief within minutes. The sweetener modifies the nerve muscles that make your diaphragm spam and cause the hiccups. Just don’t tell your dentist about this one!
8. Warts? Reach for the tool box
Did you every think you’d be shopping at the hardware store for a cure for warts? Duct tape—the fix-all of home improvements—also works on your warts. According to a study published by the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, it even works better than freezing them off! Simply clean the affected area and cover with a piece of duct tape cut slightly larger than the wart, rubbing it into place. Every three days, remove the tape and file down the dead skin until the wart disappears.
9. Calluses and corns? Check the candy aisle
Trouble with calluses and corns? Grab some licorice! The popular candy contains estrogen-like substances that soften hard skin. To apply, you’ll have to grind up a few licorice sticks and mix them with a half-teaspoon of petroleum jelly. Then simply rub the pasty mixture into the affected areas of your feet.
10. Itch? Go bananas
The tropical fruit isn’t just for breakfast cereal and sundaes anymore! If you have a bug bite or poison ivy infection, slap on the interior of a fresh banana peel. The anti-inflammatory properties of the peel will bring you relief for that itch. And don’t just eat the rest of the fruit—mash it up and use it for a facial to moisturize dry skin.
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About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care sites, also including freelance or intern writers.