By Michael A. Smith, MDhome remedies don’t meet the standards of rigorous clinical research, but based on centuries of anecdotal evidence, it’s pretty clear they have some merit.
Let’s investigate some of the home remedies that even conventional doctors say work. This is a summary of research conducted by Dr. Philip Hagen, a preventive medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic, who writes for WebMD.
Honey Soothes Minor InjuriesNot only does honey in tea or warm water soothe a scratchy throat, but it's also been used to treat wounds for thousands of years. Last year, a review of research found that honey is helpful in healing minor to moderate burns.1 Additionally, a recent study identified a protein called defensin-1 as the compound that gives honey its antibacterial property.2
Apply warm honey to a minor cut that’s not bleeding or mild burn and then cover it with a bandage. Make sure to clean, reapply honey and change the bandage daily. However, if you have a burn or wound that's accompanied by swelling, fever, or pain, or if the wound is deep, check with a doctor instead — it may require oral antibiotics.
Do you nick yourself a lot? This is where raw Manuka honey works best. You can find Manuka at most health food stores. Manuka honey is a honey produced from the nectar of one plant species found in New Zealand and in parts of Australia.
It’s darker in color and has a stronger taste than most other types of honey. Research shows this type has particularly potent antibacterial properties. The antibacterial properties of Manuka honey are commonly quantified using the "Unique Manuka Factor" (UMF) and have been shown in laboratory studies to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus.3
Salt is a Natural DecongestantSalt dissolved in water can drain excess fluids out of our sinuses and nasal cavities. This type of salt water solution is "hypertonic" — meaning it has more salt than water when compared to normal body fluids. This will move water (and the congestion with it) out of your sinuses.
This technique has probably been used for thousands of years across all cultures to drain stuffy sinuses, ease sore throats and clear congested nasal passages.
To make a hypertonic solution, dissolve half a teaspoon of non-iodized salt in an 8-ounce glass of water. For a sore throat, simply gargle with the solution. But don’t swallow it — it tastes gross.
To flush out your sinuses, fill a clean bulb syringe with the hypertonic solution. Then you just lean over a sink and squeeze the solution into your nostril.
Please note: Use only sterile bottled or distilled water in your nose. Also make sure you sterilize the syringe after each use.
Peppermint Tea Helps with GasIt’s theorized that peppermint oil can help relax the muscles of your digestive tract, allowing gas to pass more easily and relieving indigestion.
All you have to do is add one drop of peppermint oil to your favorite tea. But be careful with peppermint as there are some reports that it can actually precipitate heartburn.
Oatmeal Soothes Irritated SkinOats pack phytochemicals with anti-inflammatory properties that soothe itchy and inflamed skin, a study in the Archives of Dermatological Research shows.4 Most doctors recommend using the finely ground colloidal type sold in drugstores, but any unflavored oatmeal will help.
If you're using regular oatmeal, grind it into a fine powder. Put a cup of oats through a food processor until they dissolve easily into a glass of water. Pour the solution into a bathtub full of warm water and soak for 15 minutes. Using colloidal oats? Just sprinkle them directly into the bathtub and enjoy.
Tell us if any of these home remedies have worked for you. Or maybe you have one you’d like to share with us? If so, we would love to hear from you!
- Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Oct 8;(4):CD005083. PMID: 18843679.
- IUBMB Life. 2012 Jan;64(1):48-55. doi: 10.1002/iub.578. Epub 2011 Nov 17.
- Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. 52 (4): 483-489. doi:10.1002/mnfr.200700282.
- Arch Dermatol Res. 2008 Nov;300(10):569-74. Epub 2008 May 7.
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