By Dr Mercola
When you look at the science, it turns out your grandmother wasn’t so far off on some of those home remedies she used to talk about. For example, it’s really true that olives can help stave off motion sickness – but only if you eat them when the first symptoms appear. That’s because olives contain tannin, which works to eliminate the saliva that triggers nausea.
It’s also absolutely true that oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties, and that a finely ground paste of it can help soothe eczema. The neutralizing powers of yogurt and other probiotics also can help get rid of bad breath.
Gargle salt water for a sore throat, take a spoonful of sugar for hiccups, and chew on a pencil for a headache – they all have a scientific reason why they work.
And, although there are no studies to back up putting Vapor Rub on toenail fungus, enough people have reported success with the remedy to warrant giving it a try.
Healing practices of yore; natural remedies that were passed from one generation from another, lost a lot of footing with the advent of modern medicine that has a pill for every possible ailment. But does that mean grandma, and all the women before her, were all wrong?
Of course not.
In fact, many of the ailments you experience can be addressed using very simple, natural means. Yahoo Health offers up seven different folklore remedies for common problems. Below I will review my own recommendations for these ailments.
Olives may be of some help here, but ginger is far better. It’s traditionally used to treat nausea, but also seems to work quite well against motion sickness. To make a tea, simply slice off a small amount of fresh ginger and steep it in hot water for 30 seconds up to several minutes. Ginger is very potent, so taste it at regular intervals of about 30 seconds—it can get very strong fast!
Alternatively, for a quicker but less elegant solution, just take a half teaspoon of the fresh ginger and finely dice it with a knife and swallow it whole. It has worked every time I have had the need for it. It probably is the most consistently effective herbal food that I have seen work nearly every time.
In addition to ginger, the University of Maryland Medical Center also suggests using peppermint and black horehound, which is actually a traditional remedy for motion sickness.
These herbs can be taken as:
- Dried extracts in the form of capsules, powders, or teas
- Liquid extracts or tinctures
To make a tea using dried herb, put about one teaspoon of the herb into a tea strainer and place it in a cup of hot water. Avoid adding sugar. If you absolutely need some sweetness, try a couple of drops of liquid stevia instead.
Another excellent method that you can do whenever and wherever motion sickness strikes, is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). It balances your subtle energy system and calms your motion sensors, and this will calm your symptoms of motion sickness and allow you to finally enjoy the pleasures of travel.
The devil is in the details when it comes to the recommendation to use yoghurt to combat bad breath, because most of the yoghurt you find today is loaded with sugar and made from pasteurized milk. You do NOT want to use these commercially available yoghurts as they are more likely to do more harm than good.
Only use traditionally fermented yoghurt, such as kefir made from raw milk with no added sugar. Another alternative is to consume traditionally fermented foods (such as natto or tempeh), or take a high quality probiotic like Complete Probiotics.
How is it that these types of foods and bacteria can help against bad breath?
Because halitosis, or bad breath, is typically caused by systemic diseases, gastrointestinal and/or upper respiratory tract disorders, and microbial metabolism from your tongue, saliva or dental plaque—all of which are indicators of systemic unbalance, which can be remedied with probiotics in the form of an oral supplement or fermented foods.
In addition to reseeding the beneficial bacteria in your gut, I highly recommend limiting the primary fertilizer for the bacteria that cause bad breath, namely SUGAR and grains that rapidly break down to sugar. That automatically means cutting down on processed foods (which are high in both grains and sugars/high fructose corn syrup), as they cause bad odor-causing bacteria to grow out of control.
Beware that mouthwashes are only effective against bad breath caused by intraoral factors. Gargling and swishing can’t help you much if your problem stems from an imbalance of bacteria in your intestinal tract, for example.
Definitely do NOT use sugar for hiccups. There are many better options that do not involve spiking your insulin.
One interesting method that seems to work is to have someone hold down the tragus of your ear to close off your ear canal while you drink a FULL glass of water. This has been the single most effective remedy I have ever used for hiccups. It is the rare occasion where it doesn’t work.
A really simple, inexpensive way to relieve the hallmark itch of eczema is to put a saltwater compress over the itchy area. You’ll want to use a high quality natural salt, such as Himalayan salt. Simply make a solution with warm water, soak a compress, and apply the compress over the affected area. You’ll be amazed to find that the itching will virtually disappear!
You also want to make sure your skin is optimally hydrated. Skin creams are rarely the answer here, but rather you’ll want to hydrate your skin from the inside out by consuming high quality, animal-based omega-3 fats in your diet, such as krill oil. I also find it helpful to include a bit of gamma linoleic acid, typically in the form of primrose oil, as this works remarkably well for eczema. Products like “krill for women” are good for both sexes for this condition as they have both fatty acids.
(Plant-based omega-3s like flax and hemp seed, although decent omega-3 sources in general, will not provide the clinical benefit you need to reduce inflammation and swelling in your skin.)
Additionally, food allergies play an enormous role in eczema. In my experience, the most common offending agent is wheat, or more specifically, gluten. Avoiding wheat and other gluten-containing grains is therefore a wise first step.
Avoiding grains will also reduce the amount of sugar in your system, which will normalize your insulin levels and reduce any and all inflammatory conditions you may have, including inflammation in your skin. Other common allergens include milk and eggs. I recommend you do an elimination trial with these foods as well. You should see some improvement in about a week, sometimes less, after eliminating them from your diet if either of them is causing you trouble.
Last but not least, vitamin D in the form of sun exposure can be your best friend when dealing with eczema and other skin conditions, such as psoriasis.
Ideally, you’ll want to get your vitamin D from appropriate sunshine exposure because UVB radiation on your skin will not only metabolize vitamin D, but will also help restore optimal skin function. High amounts of UVB exposure directly on affected skin – but not so much to cause sunburn! – will greatly improve the quality of your skin.
If you can’t get sufficient amounts of sun during the winter months, a high quality safe tanning bed can suffice. A safe tanning bed will provide the optimized forms of UVA and UVB wavelengths, without dangerous EMF exposure.
Interestingly, about five years ago I posted a video with the dubious recommendation to use Vicks VapoRub to treat toenail fungus. The response from my readers was amazing—hundreds of people wrote me to confirm it really does work!
My experience tells me that when such a large number of people anecdotally confirm something, it probably has some merit. So, although I can’t explain why it works, it certainly seems harmless enough to give it a try. If you’ve ever had a toenail fungus, you know it can be a vexing problem that can last for years with no obvious solution, so this simple remedy could be a welcome boon for many.
One way to reduce your risk of fungal infections is to cut down on sugar, which feeds the fungi. Spending time in the ocean on a regular basis can also help.
I have also struggled with this problem and never found a prescription or natural approach to work until I started spending my winters in the sub–tropical environments. About 1 ½ years ago I had a recurrence after wearing neoprene “Five Finger” type shoes for six months with no socks.
However when I spent the winter in the subtropics wearing no shoes and having my toenails receive hours of direct sun exposure every day the problem disappeared. The UV rays were more than enough to solve the problem. No Vapo Rub required. This does take 4-6 months though of nearly daily sun exposure to work, in combination with wearing sandals most of the time so there is no moist environment for the fungus to grow.
If you’re prone to headaches, I strongly advise you to evaluate your lifestyle to determine the root cause. There are many types of headaches, each with its own set of triggers.
For general headaches that do not appear to be due to tension or poor posture, I’ve found that avoiding wheat, grains, sugar, artificial sweeteners and preservatives, and all fluids but water seems to be particularly effective. Those suffering from recurrent migraines would also do well to heed this advice. Just remember to stay the course, as dietary changes do take some time to work.
Migraines are also another common type of headache and it has been my experience that artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, trigger them in many people. So avoid all diet products.
Two methods that offer more immediate relief include intravenous magnesium and the Emotional Freedom Technique. EFT in particular is usually very effective for relieving pain of all kinds, oftentimes removing your pain in as little as a few minutes.
Upper Respiratory Infections and Sore Throat
There’s a mountain of evidence showing that vitamin D plays a key role in your immune system, so maintaining optimal vitamin D levels is your number one defense against infections of all kinds, including upper respiratory infections.
The wintertime deficiency of vitamin D (which your body produces in response to sunlight) has been implicated in the seasonal increase in colds and flu, and a number of studies have suggested an association between low blood levels of vitamin D and a higher risk of respiratory infections. For detailed guidelines on optimizing your vitamin D levels, please see my article Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.
Another really simple and inexpensive treatment that is surprisingly effective against upper respiratory infections is hydrogen peroxide.
Many patients at my Natural Health Center have had remarkable results in treating colds and flu within 12 to 14 hours when administering a few drops of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) into each ear. (A bottle of hydrogen peroxide in 3 percent solution is available at any drug store for a couple of dollars or less.) You will hear some bubbling, which is completely normal, and possibly feel a slight stinging sensation. Wait until the bubbling and slight stinging subside (usually 5 to 10 minutes), then drain onto a tissue and repeat with the other ear.
To treat a sore throat, few remedies are as tried-and-true as honey. Just make sure you use raw honey, as the vast majority of honey for sale in the United States is highly processed or refined, which, like most other refined foods, can promote disease and damage your health rather than help.
Connie’s comments: My grandma would burn rice for diarrhea and burn egg yolk as paste for ezcema or athlete’s foot.