When you're feeling under the weather, you want fast relief. Thanks to 24/7 emergi-centers, pharmacies, and grocery stores, you can find it pronto. But sometimes you don't even have to leave your house. For minor health problems, consider some tried-and-true home remedies. Using common items you already have in the pantry will save time and money. And you won't even have to change out of your fuzzy slippers! Plus: After you're done checking out these D.I.Y. tips, don't miss the 17 Immunity Boosters Better than Emergen-C!
A note of caution: If symptoms persist, visit a medical doctor, and if you are concerned about a home remedy's potential reaction to a prescription medication, check with a pharmacist. Use common sense and always err on the side of caution.
Cough Due to Cold
Home Fix: Dark chocolate
Not milk chocolate, but the more bitter dark chocolate contains a compound called theobromine, which has been shown to be more effective than codeine against coughs without the drowsiness and constipation symptoms. A few small pieces should do. If dark chocolate will keep you up at night, you can soothe your cough with 2 teaspoons of honey. Honey has anti-inflammatory properties and works on canker sores, too. As for the chocolate, find out which one to buy by consulting our guide to the 17 Best and Worst Dark Chocolate Bars!
Home Fix: Garlic juice
Squeeze the juice from six garlic cloves into a glass of warm water. (Not hot water.) Mix and gargle with the solution twice a day. Within three days, your sore throat should be gone thanks to the antimicrobial properties that destroy the pain-causing bacteria. Also, the warm solution soothes inflamed throat tissues.
Home Fix: Eat cherries
Cherries (fresh or dried) are one of the few natural food sources of melatonin, the hormone that affects the body's internal clock to regulate sleep patterns, says Mark Moyad, MD, an alternative medicine expert at the university of Michigan Medical Center and author of The Supplement Handbook. Discover the 30 Best and Worst Foods to Eat for Sleep for help getting some high-quality R&R.
The Common Cold
Home Fix: Hugging someone
Loving hugs may help you avoid catching a cold. In a study published in the journal Psychological Science, subjects were exposed to the common cold virus (yes, participants agreed to this). Those who received regular hugs were much less likely to develop cold symptoms than others in the study who didn't receive daily hugs. Researchers say hugs reduce stress and, in turn, strengthen the immune system.
Home Fix: Olive oil
It's rich in anti-inflammatories and antioxidants. And the fat moisturizes. Rub it on three times a day to protect, soften, and lubricate. If you are outside and don't have olive oil or lip balm, rub your finger on the sides of your nose to pick up facial oils to spread on dry lips. And speaking of beauty tips, find out the 18 Health Foods with Big Beauty Benefits!
Home Fix: Swallow 2 teaspoons of sugar
The coarse granules stimulate the irritated nerve that's triggering the spasms, calming the diaphragm.
Home Fix: Ginger ice chips
Make a tea of freshly shaved ginger. When the tea cools, strain the liquid into ice cube trays and freeze. Smash the frozen cubes and suck on the ginger chips to soothe an upset stomach.
Home Fix: Vinegar
Soak your feet in a tub of 1 part vinegar and two parts warm water.
Home Fix: A lemon, yogurt, and a toothbrush
Lemon juice's acidity destroys the bacteria causing the foul odor. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice into a cup, and gargle. Follow that up by eating a small container of probiotic plain yogurt. The natural lactobacillus bacteria found in yogurts replace the smelly bugs. During the day, you can freshen up your breath by brushing your tongue with a soft-bristled toothbrush to get rid of reeking food particles.
Poison Ivy Rash
Home Fix: Brewed tea
Dry weepy poison ivy rashes by dipping a cotton ball into strongly brewed black tea and dabbing the rash. Let dry.
Burns and Cold Sores
Home Fix: Aloe vera
The gel from this plant stimulates the immune system and provides a protective layer for the affected area; it can also be used on oral ulcers.
Home Fix: Fennel
Fennel seeds contain phytonutrients that are thought to reduce spasms in the intestines, helping to reduce gassiness. Fennel also freshens breath.
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Home Fix: Garlic
Garlic is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory, so it will treat any infection, but when combined with mullein oil, it's especially effective for ear infections.
Home Fix: Lavender
The scent of lavender triggers a calming response, releasing tension in the scalp, which eases the pain. Take a few long whiffs when tension strikes.
Home Fix: A tennis ball
Sew a 6"x 6" square of cloth cut from an old T-shirt into the back of your pajama top forming a three-sided pouch. Insert a tennis ball into the pouch before you go to bed. The ball will keep you from sleeping flat on your back, which causes your tongue and soft palate to collapse into the wall of your throat and vibrate. The ball forces you to sleep on your side or your stomach.
Home Fix: Lemon Balm
Several studies have found that the active ingredients in lemon balm promote calm and reduce anxiety. The herb's oil has been used in Alzheimer's care units to calm people. And as for anxiety, make sure you find out other good and bad foods to nosh on with our list of 22 Best and Worst Foods for Anxiety!