Not to discount the miracles of modern medicine, but there’s a reason natural household remedies have stuck around for thousands of years: they actually work. Not only that, but they’re cost-effective, easy to obtain, and made of safe, all-natural ingredients.
Here are ten household cures to common ailments–so that the next time you get sick, the first place you’ll head to is your own pantry, not the mile-long queue at the doctor’s office!
Garlic for flu
Garlic is a popular home remedy for flu and colds, due to its antibiotic, decongestant, and expectorant effects. There’s only one catch: it has to be eaten in its fresh, raw state! Raw garlic contains allicin, a compound that is only present when garlic is crushed or cut into pieces and before it is cooked, and has antimicrobial and antiviral properties necessary to knock out flu right from the onset.
How-to: Realistically speaking, not everyone has a strong enough stomach to chew on a whole clove of garlic–although that yields the most effective, most potent results. Instead, it’s recommended to slice the clove into smaller pieces and suck. You can also mince the garlic then consume with honey or olive oil, and a bit of bread to pad the stomach.
Honey for acne
Honey has antiseptic properties (thanks to its mild hydrogen peroxide content) that prevent the growth of bacteria in your pores. It’s also high in sugar and acid, which makes it harder for bacteria to reproduce. It also moisturizes your skin and prevents dryness.
How-to: Make sure you use raw instead of processed honey, because processed honey may have other ingredients that can irritate your skin further. Prep your face by washing with mild soap and warm water, then gently rub the raw honey onto your skin before it dries. Leave on for 2-5 minutes, then rinse off.
Ginger for dysmenorrhea
A substantial amount of research reports that ginger is effective in relieving the cramps in your uterus during menstruation! Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and relieves pain. It promotes circulation, thus improving oxygen supply to the uterine muscles and reducing menstrual cramps.
How-to: Prepare tea from ginger root. Skin the root and dice it into small pieces. Use 2 tablespoons of ginger root pieces per cup of water. Boil the mixture, then strain the ginger from the water and drink the tea two to three times a day.
Lemon balm tea for cold sores
Cold sores are blisters around the oral area caused by a non-sexual strain of the herpes virus. They take about 10-14 days to resolve on their own and can be painful as well as unsightly. Lemon balm tea has been proven to have antiviral properties that can combat the herpes virus, thus speeding up healing time, and even reducing recurrences. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family, and the cool sensation you get when placed on cold sores can also provide pain relief.
How-to: Prepare the tea and apply it on the cold sore with a cotton ball throughout the day. You can even do one better and apply lemon balm to the skin around your mouth daily to prevent it drying and protecting it from the virus.
Sugar for hiccups
Hiccups aren’t alarming, but they can be quite a nuisance when you’ve tried holding your breath til you’re blue in the face and they still won’t go away! Hiccups are caused by spasming of the diaphragm due to irritation of the nerve that controls it, called the vagus nerve. Swallowing a teaspoon of sugar can give the vagus nerve new sensory information to process and thereby, in a word, distracting it and stopping the spasms.
How-to: Swallow a teaspoon of sugar next time your hiccups come up. To be fair, any substance made of coarse, dry granules (such as salt) will work, but sugar is by far the most pleasant choice.
Olives for nausea
Bouts of nausea are often followed by waves of vomiting. The body prepares for this by increasing the production of saliva to protect your teeth when your lunch and stomach acid come popping back up for a repeat performance. Tannin, a compound found in olives, causes dryness of the mouth, and tricks the body into thinking it shouldn’t prepare for a vomiting episode…thus preventing one.
How-to: Pop the olives into your mouth as soon as you feel nausea hit to cut vomiting off at the pass.
Baking soda for UTI
Baking soda is alkaline, and it reduces the acidity of the bladder, making it harder for the bacteria to multiply and allows the body to defeat the infection on its own. It also decreases the acidity of the urine, thus reducing the burning pain when you feel when you pee, and even the constant urges to go that typically come with UTI.
How-to: Mix in ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in 8 ounces of water and drink on an empty stomach. It’s still recommended that you go see a doctor and get you a urine culture, just to make sure you’re not missing out on anything bigger.
Apple cider vinegar for nail fungus
Nail fungi thrive best in warm, alkaline environments, such as on your toenails when they’re encased all day in closed sweaty shoes. Putting apple cider vinegar on your toes makes them acidic, rendering the environment hostile for the fungus so it can’t survive.
How-to: First, clip and file down your toenails to allow the apple cider vinegar to effectively seep into the nail tissue. In a bowl or basin big enough to submerge your toes, mix one part water and one part apple cider vinegar. Let your toes soak for half an hour, then dry very thoroughly-make sure to get in between your toes to prevent even more moisture from building up there! Also, to prevent recurrence of infection, never reuse solutions.
Aloe vera for burns
Aloe vera has been used as a treatment for burns since the time of the ancient Greeks. It provides quick relief for the pain of burns, has enzymes that speed up healing, and has antibacterial properties that reduce the risk of the burn becoming infected.
How-to: First, remove the spines on the aloe vera leaves so you don’t hurt yourself. Cut the leaves down the middle and make shallow cuts on the inside to release the aloe extract. Apply liberally and gently to your burn and the area surrounding it two to three times a day.
Guest post by Sandy Getzky
Sandy Getzky is the executive coordinating editor at The Global Nail Fungus Organization, a group committed to helping the 100+ million people suffering from finger and toenail fungus. Sandy is also a registered Herbalist and member of the American Herbalist’s Guild.