Quick DIY fixes (natural home remedies) for everything from stomach upset to the common cold
1. Cure aches and pains—naturally
Your body can throw you for a loop at any time. You wake up with a sore throat the day you’re set to make a major presentation, a seafood-salad sandwich leaves you with grumbling indigestion, or you overdo it at the gym and arrive home with a stiff neck. Wouldn’t it be great to have a live-in doctor/therapist/trainer to tend to your everyday aches and pains?
Here’s the next best thing: all-natural, expert-recommended ways to treat ailments quickly, safely, and effectively at home. So clear some space in your bathroom cabinet, refrigerator, and kitchen cupboard for these surprisingly effective (and inexpensive) remedies. The following 20 home remedies are like having a doctor on call 24 hours a day.
2. Nausea relief with Ginger
Try frozen ginger chips. First, infuse fresh ginger in hot water. Strain, then freeze the concoction in ice cube trays. Crush the cubes and suck the icy chips throughout the day to provide your tummy with a steady soothing dribble. Ginger’s anti-nausea properties are particularly effective during pregnancy or after surgery.
–Expert: Eric Yarnell, ND, faculty member of the department of botanical medicine at Bastyr University
3. Stifle hiccups can go away with Sugar
Swallow 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar. The dry granules stimulate and reset the irritated nerve that is causing the spasms of the diaphragm. Any coarse substance, such as salt, can work in a pinch, but sugar tastes best.
–Expert: Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers and author of From Fatigued to Fantastic!
4. Relief for a sore throat with Garlic
Gargle twice daily with a solution of six pressed garlic cloves mixed into a glass of warm (not hot) water. Follow the regimen for three days. Research shows that fresh garlic juice has antimicrobial properties that fight pain-causing bacteria. The warm liquid soothes inflamed tissue.
–Expert: Ronald Hoffman, MD, medical director of the Hoffman Center in New York and author of Alternative Cures That Really Work
5. Reduce cough with dark chocolate
Indulge in a square or two of dark chocolate. Researchers found that chocolate’s theobromine compound is more effective than codeine at suppressing persistent coughs without the side effects of drowsiness and constipation.
To calm a nagging cough that keeps you awake at night, take 2 teaspoons of honey (1 to 2 teaspoons for kids; don’t give to children younger than 1), along with 500 mg of Ester C 30 minutes before bed. The vitamin C (nonacidic Ester type won’t upset stomachs) boosts the immune system in the early stages of your cough. Research shows that honey works better than either a cough suppressant or no treatment at all for relieving children’s nocturnal cough and promoting sleep.
–Experts: Jacob Teitelbaum, MD; Mark Moyad, MD, MPH, Jenkens/Pokempner director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor
6. Linden flower tea to reduce a fever
Sip linden flower tea, which works in two ways: It stimulates the hypothalamus to better control your temperature, and it dilates blood vessels, inducing sweating. Steep 1 tablespoon of dried herb (available in health food stores) in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes, then sip. Drink three to four cups a day. If you still run hot after a day of sipping tea, seek medical attention.
For a high fever (above 102°F), take a tepid bath, which simply cools the body to match the water temperature. Bathe until your temperature decreases to 101° to 102°F, then sip linden flower tea to lower it even more.
–Expert: Eric Yarnell, ND
7. Cool a burn with Aloe Vera Gel
If you grazed your skin with a hot-from-the-oven cookie pan, apply Aloe Vera gel to the burn as needed. The soothing and anti-inflammatory gel creates a second skin to protect it from air, which irritates exposed nerve endings.
–Expert: Laurie Steelsmith, ND, is in private practice in Honolulu and is the author of Natural Choices for Women’s Health
8. Quiet flatulence with Peppermint
Take two enteric-coated peppermint capsules (500 mg each) three times daily. Peppermint kills bacteria that cause bloating and relaxes gastrointestinal muscles for smoother, spasm-free digestion. Enteric coating prevents capsules from opening in the stomach and increasing discomfort by causing heartburn and indigestion. The peppermint then releases and goes to work lower in the gastrointestinal tract, where gas-plagued people need it most.
–Expert: Ronald Hoffman, MD
9. Stop foot odor with Vinegar
Soak feet nightly in 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water to eliminate odoriferous bacteria. Or take a daily foot bath in strong black tea (let it cool first) for 30 minutes. Tea’s tannins kill bacteria and close the pores in your feet, keeping feet dry longer; bacteria tend to thrive in moist environments. You’ll see results in a few days to a week. One caution: Only do the soak when your feet are free of cuts.
–Expert: Laurie Steelsmith, ND
10. Make a cold short with Lemon
Sip a faux hot toddy. Cut a vitamin C-rich lemon in half and squeeze the juice from one half into a cup. Studies show that vitamin C taken before the onset of a cold shortens its duration and severity. Drop the lemon half shell into the cup. Add boiling water and a teaspoon of organic raw honey, an immunity booster that also coats painful throat tissues. Breathe in the healing vapor to open sinuses, and sip a cupful two or three times daily to fight the bug. (To make a traditional hot toddy, add a half shot of brandy.)
–Expert: Ellen Kamhi, PhD, RN, clinical instructor at Stony Brook Medical School and co-author of Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Arthritis and The Natural Medicine Chest