Many of the following home remedies will be familiar to you. They’ve been around for centuries. But do they offer real help for what ails you, or are they simply untested medical oddities that don’t work?
My great-grandmother was an herbalist and a bruja in Cuba. Whenever we children had health issues, our mother would call her in.
I vividly remember one of her home remedies. For the warts on my fingers, she tied a blindfold around my head and chanted while rubbing a salve on my warts.
The warts disappeared almost immediately.
Let’s have some fun with a true/false quiz. Guess which of the following seven popular home remedies actually work. If you get all seven correct, you can come pick up your medical degree at our office! (Answers below.)
- T/F: Honey can help cure a sore throat and calm a cough.
- T/F: Reading in dim light can weaken your eyesight.
- T/F: Hot, spicy food cause ulcers.
- T/F: Sweating in a sauna can help reduce a hangover.
- T/F: Drink cranberry juice to cure a urinary tract infection.
- T/F: Chicken soup has documented effectiveness against colds and flu.
- T/F: Chocolate eases coughs.
- True. A teaspoon of honey added to cup of warm tea, e.g., ginger tea, can soothe irritated mucous membranes. Honey can also combat viruses, and has anti-microbial effects that can reduce harmful bacteria.
- False. There are no proven permanent negative effects from reading in dim light. The worst that can happen is eye fatigue or dry eyes as you struggle to focus.
- False. Stomach and duodenal ulcers are caused by the H. pylori bacteria and not by spicy foods or stress, as was previously thought. Antibiotics and natural approaches are both used with frequent success to treat ulcers.
- False. Sweating it out after a night of heavy drinking will only further dehydrate your body – not a good idea, and can have nasty consequences. The best approach to dealing with a hangover is to drink natural electrolyte drinks (NOT Gatorade!). Most health food stores carry chemical-free electrolyte drinks. Coconut water is excellent as well. In medical school, we learned that tomato juice mixed with sauerkraut juice is excellent for restoring electrolytes.
- True. “Cranberry juice helps prevent the bacteria, E. coli, that causes most UTIs from multiplying and adhering to the walls of the urinary tract,” according to urologist Dr. Kerkanwal Khaira of Fairfield, CA who works within a formal collaboration with the Mayo Clinic. “Something that’s important, though, is to make sure you’re drinking cranberry juice with no sugar added. Sugar can actually make it worse.”
- True. It is thought that chicken fat has anti-inflammatory components that can help your body heal when you’re fighting off a cold, cough, or the flu. Also, the steam rising from a bowl of chicken soup can moisten the sinuses and help keep you hydrated.
- True. Hooray! Chocolate contains theobromine, an ingredient often found in cough suppressants. Theobromine works by suppressing the firing of the vagus nerve which triggers a chronic cough. Theobromine is present in all chocolate products but is higher in dark chocolate, unsweetened baking chocolate, and cocoa powder than in milk chocolate. Dosage is yet to be determined.
Needless to say, nothing mentioned in this article can replace professional medical evaluation.
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