Home remedies are often held up as safer ways to fix issues such as headaches and acne. But is there testing that proves their effectiveness? Let's take a look at some home remedies that have been investigated by scientists.
Home remedies aren't the subject of hugely extensive research, but a handful of studies have shown promising results. As always, we're not doctors, so if you have any serious health issues be sure to talk with your doctor before trying any new remedy.
If you don't want to reach for a pill bottle every time you have a headache, some alternative options might help. For tension headaches, a small study published in Australian Family Physician suggests that Tiger Balm on the forehead may help with pain relief. Peppermint oil has a similar effect on headaches, but more research is need for both to establish a clear connection.
The US Department of Health & Human Services points to several studies that suggest relaxation training can help with stress-induced headaches. Often with headaches, it's best to concentrate on prevention rather than treatment when possible.
Sprains, Twists And Other Sores
Chances are that if you've ever sprained a body part, you've put ice on it. As it turns out, research from Vanderbilt University shows that ice really is the best solution for most bone and joint injuries. If you do suffer an injury, apply ice and a little pressure for about 15-20 minutes. Then remove it for an equal amount of time, and apply again.
Studies also show that arnica gel decreases pain and stiffness in arthritis sufferers. This may extent to athletes who suffer soreness or strains. WebMD points out that since arnica is poisonous, you need to use a diluted formula if you're going to rub it on sore areas.
Nobody likes toothaches and they're often difficult to deal with because it's hard to get inside your mouth. A 2006 study published in The Journal of Dentistry shows that clove oil is just as effective at relieving tooth pain as other medications. Just dab a cotton swab with a small amount of clove oil and apply it to the area that hurts. Within a couple of minutes it should go numb.
Cold and Flu
We've talked a lot about cold and flu cures so we won't spend too much time on them here because the basics haven't changed much over the years.
For a sore throat, a survey published in Pediatrics showed that honey helps relieve both your throat and your cough. Just swallow two teaspoons before bed. If honey isn't your thing, a study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine shows that gargling with salt water helps with a cough. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a full glass of water, gargle a few seconds, and spit it out.
Skin issues are some of the most common targets for home remedies. Whether it's a bit of acne or athlete's foot, covering your body in household fluids is oddly common.
Acne is one of those skin issues that has thousands of purported solutions, but few have withstood the scrutiny of research. A small number of studies have found tea tree oil effective at fighting acne. Just apply a small amount to your acne daily to shrink that zit down.
All it takes to get athlete's foot is a step on a moist floor, or to spend time in a gym where the fungus is present. Getting rid of it isn't as easy. A study in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that garlic is just as effective as the drug Lamisil for treating athlete's foot. The New York Times suggests finely crushing cloves of garlic into a foot bath and soaking your feet for 30 minutes a day until it's gone.
Atopic dermatitis is a type of eczema that results in dry, itchy skin. If you're looking for a treatment you'll find in your own kitchen, a small study published on Dermatitis shows that olive oil and coconut oil are both effective treatments. Coconut oil applied to the skin twice daily for four weeks helps reduce dryness and has antibacterial effects as well.
Dandruff is a common scalp condition where small bits of skin flake off on your scalp. While it's not contagious or serious, it is obnoxious. Unfortunately, it's also difficult to treat and while a lot of claimed remedies exist, none of them definitively get rid of dandruff.
Doctors typically recommend eating healthy and getting a little sun to manage dandruff, but a small study shows that tea tree oil is somewhat effective at fighting dandruff. It's still inconclusive how well it works, but you can try mixing a drop of tea tree oil into your shampoo to see if it helps.
The most common home remedy for warts is to put a small piece of duct tape over it to kill it off. A 2012 review of studies showed mixed results, but duct tape is still commonly recommended because it's easy to try. The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a simple regimen to follow:
In order for duct tape to work in the treatment of warts, it must be used as directed. The duct tape should be cut approximately 1/4 inch in size larger than the actual wart(s). If the duct tape covers too much normal, healthy skin tissues, skin irritation will develop. The duct tape should be left in place for cycles lasting six days. After six days, the duct tape should be removed, the wart soaked, then gently debrided with a thick emery board or pumice stone and left uncovered overnight. A new piece of duct tape should be reapplied the next morning.
As with headaches, stomach issues have all kinds of solutions without a lot of research backing. Nobody likes a stomach ache, but you can treat them with a few ingredients you have on hand all the time.
Heartburn sucks, but you don't have to reach for the antacids right away. The easiest home remedy is chewing gum. Studies show chewing gum decreases heartburn because it helps force fluids back into the stomach. If you have heartburn, chew on a piece of sugarless gum and see if it helps.
If you suffer from motion sickness, several studies show that ginger is one of the best home remedies out there. If you're feeling nauseous, shave off a few pieces of ginger root and eat it fresh. Ginger also helps with nausea related to morning sickness.
Chances are that if you've ever had an upset stomach, you've heard that peppermint is a good solution. Studies show that peppermint helps with irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, and heartburn. If there's such thing as a cure all for a generally upset stomach, peppermint is a good place to start. For an upset stomach, take 90 mg of peppermint oil a day.