Nobody likes being sick. Taking medicine can sometimes be just as bad as an illness itself, particularly if there are harsh side effects as a result of the medication. Often, when people mention home remedies, it is with a bit of disdain and skepticism. The home remedies most of us think of are strange potions, large amounts of whiskey, and some strange tree roots brewed into a steaming vile beverage that is offensive to the nose, taste buds and an outright assault humanity as a whole.
With that being said, there actually ARE some home remedies which actually work to treat illnesses and manage symptoms with little to no side effects. Here are the top 10 home remedies that actually work.
1. Chicken Soup
A lot of people roll their eyes at the idea of eating chicken soup to help treat a cold or flu. Your mother may have, quite literally, spoon fed you the warm, salty broth during a bout of sickness as a child. The truth is, while chicken soup won’t actually cure a cold or flu, it does help to mitigate the symptoms and will help stop a runny nose too. According to Mayo Clinic, chicken soup helps in a number of ways. First, it helps to temporarily relieve congestion by speeding up the flow of mucous. Secondly, it contains natural anti-inflammatories which help relieve some of the body’s natural inflammatory response to viral invaders. (1)
2. Peppermint Tea
When you are sick to your stomach, the mere thought of something to eat or drink may make you feel worse. But peppermint tea has been used for centuries to help treat stomach upset. This popular herb is helpful in treating a variety of stomach problems from indigestion to nausea to IBS. University of Maryland Medical Centers have a whole list of ailments which peppermint is able to soothe. The natural oils in the peppermint are able to help relax the stomach muscles, which helps to prevent acid from backing up into the esophagus and causing acid reflux, as well as helps to calm the intestinal tract to prevent cramps, bloating, and diarrhea. (2)
3. Feverfew For Headaches
People who suffer from migraines know just how debilitating the condition can be. Traditional migraine medications can have side effects including nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. Feverfew is a natural herb which has been used for centuries to help relieve headaches and migraines. When used in combination with ginger, it is said to work similarly to triptans, which are currently the gold standard for treating migraines. Feverfew is a natural vasoconstrictor, meaning it helps to shrink swollen blood vessels back to their normal size, with none of the side effects associated with triptans. A recent study conducted by Roger Cady, M.D., and head of the Headache Center in Springfield Missouri showed that for mild headaches and some migraines, feverfew and ginger worked just as well as triptans in treating headaches. (3)
4. Honey For Treating Cough
When it comes to soothing a cough in a little one, there is often very little we can do to help keep the hacking to minimum–particularly when they are trying to sleep. Cough medicines are largely ineffective in children, which means they often have to just tough it out and wait for the cough to get better on their own. It turns out, honey is actually a very effective cough remedy. Children who were given up to 10 ml of honey at bedtime had far less coughing than children who were not. Remember, children under the age of 2 should not be given honey due to the risk of botulism. However, it has been shown to be just as effective as Dextromethorphan, a common cough suppressant in OTC suspensions. (4)
5. Yogurt For Bad Breath
Some people have consistently bad breath, no matter how much they brush or how much gum they chew. In recent studies, yogurt has been proven to be an effective breath freshener. Eating 6 ounces of yogurt per day has shown to fight some of the bad bacteria which can live inside the mouth and digestive tract. (5)
6. Olive Oil For Eczema
Eczema is an autoimmune disorder of the skin causing rough, dry, itchy patches of skin. For some people, no matter how much you moisturize and avoid irritants, eczema still persists. Using olive oil on the skin, however, has proven effective at helping to relieve eczema. Rubbing a teaspoon of olive oil per square inch of skin helps create a protective barrier on the skin and seal in moisture. For particularly troubling areas of eczema, applying olive oil and then wrapping the affected area in plastic wrap overnight has proven exceptionally helpful in helping to relieve the flare-ups associate with eczema. (6)
7. Caffeine for Asthma
Asthma can cause a variety of symptoms from minor coughing to complete airway obstruction. For those who suffer from minor flare-ups occasionally, a strong cup of coffee can help to open the airways. Caffeine is a mild bronchodilator, and the hot, steamy liquid can be effective quickly when suffering a mild asthma attack. See our page on other home remedies for asthma. (7)
8. Aloe For Sunburn
Even cool, crisp white sheets can be painful on sunburned skin. Taking over the counter pain relievers can help alleviate some of the pain, as well as frequent, cool showers. However aloe has been proven time and time again to be one of the most effective treatments for easing the pain associated with sunburn. While aloe doesn’t actually help cure the burn, its cooling effects help moisturize the skin while cooling the surface and making it easier to bear until the burn subsides. (8)
9. An Apple For Whiter Teeth
An apple a day keeps the doctor away. Well, at least it keeps the dentist away! It turns out, the crisp flesh and skin of an apple helps act as a tiny toothbrush for your teeth, helping scrape away plaque and bacteria even in unseen and hard-to-reach places. They also have a natural cleansing agent within the fruit that helps to clean teeth naturally and help bring out your whitest, brightest smile!
10. Saline Rinses For Allergies And Sinus Infections
When you are extremely congested, you might do just about anything to be able to breathe normally. Whether it is a result of allergies or sinus infection, saline rinses are an effective tool to help relieve symptoms and give you some relief. For allergies, this can be particularly effective as it rinses the irritating allergens out of the mucous membranes which causes symptoms to diminish. For sinusitis, regular saline rinses help cleanse thickened mucous from the nasal passages and sinus cavities and can help shorten the duration of sinus infections, colds, and flus. See our article on home remedies for sinus infections. (9)
In terms of home remedies, there are quite a few that are actually worth putting stock into. While many are simply old wives’ tales, others truly are worthy of using. There are quite a few home remedies out there that actually work, from chicken soup to relieve congestion to apples for whiter teeth.
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