The A-to-Z Guide: 26-Plus Home Remedies Proven to Work
It can be hard to separate the tried from the true, but our expert-approved guide to home remedies that really work has got you covered.
Home remedies that really work for arthritis
There are plenty of natural arthritis remedies out there, but one of the most powerful may be green tea. A potent antioxidant found green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) may put the brakes on the joint pain and inflammation that are hallmarks of rheumatoid arthritis, according to a study in the January 2016 issue of Arthritis and Rheumatology. Researchers suggest drinking two or three cups a day to reap the benefits. And if we are talking about osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear form of the disease, red hot chili peppers may do the trick. Chili peppers contain capsaicin, which research shows can reduce joint pain, stiffness, and swelling of OA. Try applying a capsaicin cream four times daily to sore joints. Found out 23 more home remedies for arthritis pain.
Home remedies that really work for bug bites
For run-of-the-mill itching, look no further than that breakfast staple, oatmeal. “Colloidal oatmeal has a long history and equally solid biological basis for its anti-inflammatory and anti-itch effects,” says Adam Friedman, MD, an Associate Professor of Dermatology at George Washington School of Medicine and Hospital in Washington DC. Find it in the form of creams or even over-the-counter bath powder and follow instructions on the label.
If you’ve already scratched the bite, prevent infection with Healthful Manuka honey (not regular honey), which comes from New Zealand and is approved for the treatment of wounds. “It is a great osmotic agent, meaning that it pulls water into the wound/skin and an antibacterial agent,” Dr. Friedman says. “Hydrating the skin can help cool it off, and the antibacterial properties are useful as a scratched bug bite is susceptible to infection.”
Home remedy that really works for colds
Your mother was right. (Isn’t she always?) “Chicken soup has been shown to be helpful for colds in a study,” says Len Horovitz, MD, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. It may kick start an anti-inflammatory mechanism that could ease the symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections, according to the study in CHEST. The researchers found that chicken soup stops white blood cells called neutrophils in their tracks, reducing their movement and curbing symptoms. “It’s important to be seen and examined, to have a strep test or influenza test to be sure it is ‘just a cold,’” Dr. Horovitz says.
Home remedy that really works for cough
Regular store-bought honey may be more effective at reducing cough and improving sleep for kids than honey-flavored over-the-counter cough suppressant, according to study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. This is a big deal, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that over-the-counter cough medications are too risky for kids under 2. The researchers gave one-half teaspoon of honey to children ages 2 to 5, 1 teaspoon to children 6 to 11, and 2 teaspoons to those ages 12 to 18. Just don’t give honey to children under 1 because it can cause potentially life-threatening infantile botulism. Don’t miss these six other natural home remedies for a cough.
Home remedy that really works for constipation
Fiber is the best fix for constipation, and of all the proven ways to boost your fiber intake, flaxseed may be most effective. “It’s almost as if nature tailor-made ground flaxseed to relieve constipation because there are actually four mechanisms by which it helps,” says Will Bulsiewicz, MD, a gastroenterologist in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. For starters, this home remedy for constipation is a great source of both insoluble and soluble fiber, which work in different ways, he explains. “The insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool, helping it to move quickly through the intestines, [and] the soluble fiber acts as fertilizer for the gut garden, promoting the growth of good bacteria.”
There’s more to it. “Unique to ground flaxseed is the mucilage component of its soluble fiber. Mucilage is a slimy, gum like compound that provides both bulk and softness to help relieve constipation,” Dr. Bulsiwicz says. Finally, ground flaxseed is an excellent source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids that are known to help soften stool and relieve constipation. His Rx? Aim for two to three tablespoons a day as part of a fiber-rich diet. “Be sure to drink a lot of water when consuming ground flaxseed to insure adequate hydration,” he adds.
Home remedy that really works for cuts, scrapes, and burns
Another reason to keep Manuka honey on hand: “One of my all-time favorite home remedies—that works 100 percent of the time—is Manuka honey on open cuts, burns, or scrapes,” says Nadia Kumentas, ND, a naturopathic doctor from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and founder of affecthealth.com. “Its potent antibacterial and wound-healing abilities help you heal quickly, minimize scarring, and prevent infection,” she says. “Making sure you apply a thin layer of Manuka honey to the wound and covering it to keep the environment moist. Change the dressing/Band-Aid daily.” Here are more home remedies for bumps, burns, and bruises.
Home remedy that really works for headaches
In most cases, caffeine will alleviate a headache, says Claire Martin, a nutritionist based in Oakland, California. “Try some coffee, tea, soda, or a dark chocolate bar,” she says. “Your blood vessels have expanded during a headache and the caffeine will help shrink them.”
Home remedy that really works for hemorrhoids
Experts at the Cleveland Clinic recommend Sitz baths—a shallow bowl that fits over your toilet—for hemorrhoid relief. Sitting in warm water for 15 minutes, several times a day—especially after a bowel movement—can soothe the irritated area.
Home remedy that really works for hiccups
A spoonful of sugar doesn’t just help the medicine go down—when it comes to hiccups, it is the medicine. “Eating the grainy sugar crystals forces you to swallow harder than normal, and this also works to reset your diaphragm,” Martin says. Hiccups are spasms of the diaphragm. If you’re desperate to get rid of them, try these quirky home remedies for hiccups.
Home remedy that really works for infected nails
If you have the tell-tale signs of a bacterial or fungal infection—toenails that are thick, crumbling, and yellow, try soaking in white vinegar, a proven antifungal. “The white vinegar soak should be half vinegar and half water,” says Dr. Friedman. Soak the affected finger or toe three or four times a day for 15 to 20 minutes until it clears up.
Home remedy that really works for leg cramps
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“Magnesium deficiency happens to be one of the most common culprits of muscle cramping,” says Carolyn Dean, ND, MD, a naturopathic physician in Maui, Hawaii, a medical advisory board member of the Nutritional Magnesium Association and author of many books including The Miracle of Magnesium. “Magnesium encourages relaxation within the body—including stress and muscle tension.” Not all forms of magnesium are easily absorbed by the body, however, she says. “Magnesium citrate powder is a highly absorbable form that is fast acting and can be mixed with hot or cold water and sipped at work or at home immediately in the event of muscle cramping and throughout the day.”
Home remedy that really works for menstrual cramps
Got chamomile tea? Get brewing. “Cold packs or heating pads on the lower abdomen or back can help relieve cramps, as can soaking a washcloth in warm water and chamomile tea and placing it on the same areas,” says Jill Rabin, MD, co-chief of the division of ambulatory care at the Women’s Health Programs-PCAP Services of Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York. If cramps are severe, see a doctor to make sure that you are doing all you can.
Home remedies that really work for nausea
Hands down, the best home remedies for nausea are ginger and peppermint. “Even just smelling them can curb nausea or prevent it from occurring in the first place,” Dr. Rabin says. If nausea is severe and you can’t keep food down, it’s time to check in with your doctor, she adds. If that doesn’t work, these home remedies can make an upset stomach feel better naturally.
Home remedy that really works for sunburns
Yes, prevention with judicious use of broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of 30 or higher is key, but “for sunburns I recommend cool compresses, lots of moisturizer to damp skin, and cold black tea bags because caffeine is anti-inflammatory and a vasoconstrictor, which will help with redness,” Dr. Friedman says. You’ll also want to try these 11 unusual ways to soothe a sunburn.
Home remedies that really works for tooth and gum pain
Warm salt water rinses can often help sore or swollen gums feel better due an antimicrobial effect, shares Saul Pressner, DMD, a dentist in New York City. And there’s a natural remedy for tooth pain: “Oil of cloves can sometimes soothe an inflamed tooth.” But, he cautions, “it is very important to see your dentist when these symptoms occur.”
Home remedy that really works for urinary tract infections
Of all the home remedies for UTI (urinary tract infections), cranberry capsules win. Researchers from University of Michigan School of Public Health in Ann Arbor studied 160 people aged 23 to 88 who were undergoing elective gynecological surgery. Normally, 10 to 64 percent of such women will develop a UTI following the removal of the catheter. In the study, half of the women received two cranberry juice capsules to be taken twice daily—the equivalent in strength to two 8-ounce servings of cranberry juice—for 6 weeks after surgery. The others took a placebo or dummy pill. Women who took cranberry capsules were half as likely to develop a UTI as their counterparts who received a placebo. Why? Cranberries contain A-type proanthocyanidins, which may interfere with the bacteria’s ability to breach the bladder wall, reducing the likelihood of infection, Rabin explains. Here are 10 more home remedies for UTIs.
Home remedy that really works for warts
“Stick a piece of duct tape on the wart and then change it every few days to peel away layers of the wart,” the American Academy of Dermatology suggests. A study out of Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, found that duct tape is more effective than applying liquid nitrogen to “freeze” the wart—85 percent versus 60 percent, respectively.
Home remedies that really work for zits
Skip the toothpaste, witch hazel, tea tree oil, lemon, honey and aloe vera, as these will likely do more harm than good to your complexion, says Dr. Friedman, Instead, “cover the pimple with a Band-Aid overnight,” says Anthony Youn, MD, chief surgeon at Youn Plastic Surgery in Troy, Michigan, and author of The Age Fix: A Leading Plastic Surgeon Reveals How To Really Look Ten Years Younger. “This will help decrease inflammation to make it look much less red and swollen in the morning.” If it’s blackheads that are plaguing you, try applying Elmer’s glue to the area and letting it dry. “Then peel it off, taking many of the blackheads with it,” he says. These are the 23 old-school home remedies we’ve forgotten–but need to bring back.