We know that some treatments for common ailments do not always require a trip to the pharmacy. Certain remedies that have been proven to be clinically effective can actually be administered rather quickly in the comfort and convenience of one’s home—and all without the need for a prescription or the use of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
Home remedy is a simple medication prepared at home by using herbs available in the region or ingredients available in the house like spices. The use of home remedies is prevalent everywhere across the globe as they are effective, economical and easy to use.
Home remedies are generally safe but may give rise to side effects, if not used properly without heeding precautions. Therefore the following instructions should be carefully read, understood and followed by the user.
Home remedies fall under the practice of complementary and alternative medicine and have been used for ages. We tend to use home remedies more often than we think. For example, as a kid, often our mom would give us ginger ale when we had an upset stomach or tea with honey when we had a sore throat. Likely always these made us feel a lot better after mom’s treatments. But did we ever stop to wonder how or why they work? We have some answers. Below are some common home remedies for run-of-the-mill health ailments and the science behind why they work.
- Green tea for arthritis – According to a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy ScienceFor those with rheumatoid arthritis, there is a good reason to relax with a spot of green tea. In the study, 120 participants with at least 10 years of clinically diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis were treated with infliximab, supervised exercise, or green tea for 6 months. Those who received either green tea alone or green tea plus either infliximab or exercise showed improvement in several arthritis biomarkers—including C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, number of swollen or tender joints—and bone resorption markers. The investigators observed “more clinical improvement in the disease activity of rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with green tea along with exercise compared with rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with infliximab or exercise combinations. This may have been due to the higher potential antioxidant activity of green tea (89.6% to 96.5%).
The Arthritis Foundation also supports the use of green tea for arthritis. According to them, green tea is packed with polyphenols, antioxidants believed to reduce inflammation and slow cartilage destruction. Studies also show that another antioxidant in green tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) blocks the production of molecules that cause joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
- Oatmeal for itchy skin and bug bites – For centuries, oatmeal has been used to soothe itch and irritation due to various skin conditions, including bug bites. Results from a preclinical study showed that, even at low concentrations, avenanthramides (phenols found in oatmeal) have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which account for oatmeal’s anti-itch properties. It was found that avenanthramides at concentrations as low as 1 part per billion inhibited the degradation of inhibitor of nuclear factor kappa B-alpha (IkappaB-alpha) in keratinocytes which correlated with decreased phosphorylation of p65 subunit of nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kappaB)by the authors.
Furthermore, cells treated with avenanthramides showed significant inhibition of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) induced NF-kappaB luciferase activity and subsequent reduction of interleukin-8 (IL-8) release. Additionally, topical application of 1-3 ppm avenanthramides mitigated inflammation in a murine itch model,” they added.
- Chicken soup for cold and congestion – Although it cannot be proven that chicken soup is truly good for the soul, researchers have shown that it does mitigate neutrophil migration to sites of infection or inflammation in those with upper respiratory infections. The individual components of chicken soup—such as vegetables, chicken, and broth—may also boost inhibitory potential.
One key bioactive ingredient in chicken soup may be the amino acid cysteine, which thins mucus membranes in the lungs. Moreover, the steamy broth supposedly moistens nasal passages, prevents dehydration, and fights inflammation.
- Honey for wound healing – It is popular across the globe honey’s healing secrets for ages. Honey is packed with bioactive ingredients that promote wound healing, and its immune effects promote regrowth. The acidity of honey releases oxygen from haemoglobin that mitigates the actions of proteases, which are destructive. Furthermore, it contains the bioactive compound hydrogen peroxide that—in manuka honey, at least—confers antibacterial properties. The high osmolarity of honey draws fluid into the wound bed to facilitate the flow of lymph.
Honey can also be applied to burns, according to a few researchers. According to the Honey appears to heal partial thickness burns more quickly than conventional treatment which included polyurethane film, paraffin gauze, soframycin‐impregnated gauze, and sterile linen and leaving the burns exposed and infected post‐operative wounds more quickly than antiseptics and gauze.
- Sugar for hiccups – when dealing with annoying hiccups, a spoonful of sugar may be just what is needed, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Based on scientific studies involving frictional stimulation of the pharynx at the levels of C2 and C3, granulated sugar may temporarily treat hiccups via such stimulation of the pharynx.
Stimulation of the pharynx reliably inhibits hiccups, although the effect may be only temporary. Presumably similar pharyngeal stimulation is achieved by sipping iced water, gargling, swallowing granulated sugar, and various other manipulations of the uvula or nasopharynx. Hiccups may also be inhibited by stimulating other parts of the upper respiratory tract and external auditory meatus. So, if someone having hiccups does not have any sugar on hand, he can well try sipping on some iced water or gargling some mouthwash—basically, anything that would stimulate the back of his throat.
- Flaxseed for constipation – Flaxseed is rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids and fibre, as well as lignan precursors, which are fibre-associated compounds. It can make a great remedy for constipation because of this. In a single-blinded, randomised controlled trial, researchers compared the effects of 10 g of flaxseed baked into cookies consumed twice a day with a placebo in 53 patients with type 2 diabetes and symptoms of constipation. After 12 weeks, the researchers found that symptoms of constipation, BMI, and lipid levels all improved in those taking flaxseed. Moreover, the flaxseed cookies were well-tolerated, without negative side effects, and compliance was good.
- Ginger as an antiemetic – Ginger has been employed for aeons as a natural antiemetic. The digestive benefit of ginger is no myth – a natural anti-inflammatory, ginger has been shown by many studies to be effective in relieving certain types of stomach ills. It acts peripherally in the gastrointestinal tract by increasing gastric tone and motility secondary to anticholinergic and antiserotonergic actions. Ginger has also been reported to increase gastric emptying. The combination of these functions may help explain how ginger is able to relieve symptoms of gastrointestinal upset like dyspepsia, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. According to the authors of a review published in Integrative Medicine Insights, the best available evidence demonstrates that ginger is an effective and inexpensive treatment for nausea and vomiting and is safe.
- Peppermint for nausea and digestive issues – The menthol in peppermint relaxes gastrointestinal tissue, making it a boon for those with an upset stomach and other digestive problems. It has been used for centuries to treat digestive issues like gas, bloating, and indigestion. The main component of peppermint is menthol, which has a relaxation effect on gastrointestinal tissue and topically performs as an anaesthetic that helps relieve sore muscles and body aches.
Furthermore, in one powerful meta-analysis, peppermint oil vs placebo was effective in treating global complaints of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including abdominal pain. Even better: Peppermint oil posed no adverse effects, and the number of patients needed to treat to avoid one patient from having persistent IBS symptoms was three, with four patients needing to avoid one case of abdominal pain.
- Coffee to relieve headaches – Though this seems to be a tricky one, low quantities of caffeine in the form of coffee, tea, chocolate, and so forth may help relieve the pain of headaches. Before a headache or migraine, blood vessels tend to enlarge, but caffeine has ‘vasoconstrictive’ properties that cause the blood vessels to narrow and restrict blood flow, which can aid in head pain relief. When caffeine is added to the combination of acetaminophen and aspirin, the pain-relieving effect is increased by 40%. Thus if one feels a headache coming on, a cup of coffee might lessen the severity of his symptoms.
But one needs to be careful while dealing with this. For those who regularly consume large quantities of caffeine, “caffeine rebound” can result. Although caffeine itself is not a direct culprit in the cause of headaches, caffeine rebound—which results from caffeine withdrawal—can result in headaches and other discomforts. This rebound effect is estimated to affect 2% of the population.
Although most headache sufferers can consume up to 200 mg per day, it is advised that patients with frequent headaches avoid daily use. But this does not mean you have to cut your caffeine off, try slowly decreasing your intake, and remember it’s always best to enjoy in moderation,” the NHF recommends.
Another thing to keep in mind is that drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages may exacerbate migraine headaches. People prone to migraines may experience more headaches after coffee consumption, perhaps by effects on serotonin or brain electrical activity, but the coffee itself, or the caffeine it contains, is not considered the actual cause of migraines. Certain foods or drinks like coffee are thought to trigger episodes of migraine, but the true cause is not known.
Thus to treat a minor ache or pain before heading to the medicine shop to buy some drugs, one can remember these common home remedies that may also do the trick. That way, there would be no need to expose oneself to medication if something natural could help. Alternatively, one can also use these natural remedies as adjuvant therapy. However, if it is observed that the symptoms are getting prolonged, or the pain is getting severe, it could be time to seek treatment from a doctor.