If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for that one magical cure-all or relief to fix whatever ails you. But the truth is, that cure may already be in your home. Yep, scientists have finally started backing up what many have known all along—some of those natural remedies actually work! So before you go shelling out money for another overpriced potion or lotion, check out these scientific proofs behind some of our most trusted home remedies. Who knows? You may just find the solution to your problems right in your own kitchen.
Turmeric and curcumin for aches and pains
Turmeric has been proven to treat pain, especially inflammation-related. The therapeutic effect of turmeric has been linked to its curcumin, a bioactive compound that gives turmeric its rich yellow-orange color. In one study, participants who took 500 milligrams (mg) of curcumin reported a greater pain reduction than those who took 50 mg of diclofenac sodium, another anti-inflammatory medicine. Several other trials confirm that turmeric extract is just as efficient as ibuprofen in relieving pain associated with knee osteoarthritis. After 4–8 weeks of taking 1/2–1 1/2 tsp of turmeric daily, you may begin to feel its beneficial effects. Tip: Include black pepper in your turmeric tea. The piperine in black pepper improves the body’s absorption of curcumin by 2000%.
Honey for coughs
Honey relieves coughs by acting as a demulcent, coating and soothing the throat. One study found that using honey as a cough remedy was more effective in relieving symptoms than over-the-counter medication. To use honey as a cough remedy, take 2.5 mL before bedtime. Do not give honey to children under one-year-old due to the risk of infant botulism.
Garlic for common colds
Garlic has been used as a cold remedy for centuries, and modern science backs up its effectiveness. In one study, 146 healthy adults took either a placebo pill or a garlic supplement for three months. People taking the garlic supplement were 63% less likely to develop a cold. Of the participants who did get sick, those taking garlic got better 70% faster than those in the placebo group.
Chamomile for anxiety
Chamomile has long been a folk remedy for anxiety, and research now supports its use for people with a moderate-to-severe generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). In one study, participants who took three 500mg capsules of chamomile extract per day for several months had an improvement in their symptoms. But keep in mind that chamomile may interact with blood-thinning medications (warfarin) or drugs used to prevent organ transplant rejection (cyclosporine). To use chamomile as a remedy for anxiety, try drinking chamomile tea before bed or taking a chamomile supplement daily.
Dandelion tea for stomach bloating
Dandelion leaves can be used in place of spinach in salads, added to root beer for flavor, or fermented into wine to help with bloating and water retention. They’re a little bitter, but they’re packed with vitamins K and C and used to lend a healthy and interesting twist to recipes worldwide. Tea is made by drying the leaves (and sometimes the blossoms) for use later. Herbalists often recommend dandelion tea for its liver-supporting and cleansing properties. It helps relieve bloating and cramping because it stimulates urine production. If your cup of tea tends toward the tannic and bitter, try sweetening it with a touch of honey.
Chili peppers for aching muscles and sore joints
Capsaicin, the primary ingredient in chili peppers, has long been known for its analgesic effect to relieve pain. It has recently gained widespread acceptance as a topical component for pain management. Capsaicin can be found in high concentrations in pain-relieving topical creams and lotions, but can also be made at home create using cayenne pepper and either olive and/or coconut oil. It takes more time, but you can save some money and adjust the potency. It’s important to wear protective gloves when applying this lotion and avoid getting it in your eyes or on your face.
Olive oil to relieve constipation
If you’re feeling constipated, a daily teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil can help loosen things up, particularly if you’re not used to a high-fiber diet. A study published in the Journal of Renal Nutrition found that olive oil consumed daily relieved constipation for those with kidney disease. It works by stimulating the digestive system and increasing the amount of water in the stool, making it easier to pass. Start with a small amount and increase gradually as needed. You can also add olive oil to your diet by using it in cooking or as a salad dressing.
Ginger for nausea and migraines
Ginger can be a natural remedy for sore throat and whenever you have a cold, but studies also show that it can help with morning sickness, nausea, and migraines. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, making it an effective treatment for pain. If you’re prone to motion sickness, try taking ginger capsules or chewing on a piece of fresh ginger root before traveling. For migraines, try making a cup of ginger tea by adding a few slices of fresh ginger to boiling water. You can also find ginger in capsule form at most health food stores.
Eucalyptus oil for anti-inflammatory and painkilling
Eucalyptus oil has been proven to alleviate aches and pains throughout the body. It also has anti-inflammatory and painkilling properties, making it an effective treatment for arthritis, according to one study. Eucalyptus oil can be found in creams, ointments, and balms, but can also be made at home using the leaves of the eucalyptus plant. Simply add the leaves to boiling water and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, strain, and add to a carrier oil such as olive or coconut oil.
Mint for muscle soreness and indigestion
Combined with fiber, it has been shown to alleviate the cramping, bloating, diarrhea, and stomach pain accompanying irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Peppermint also stimulates a colonic anti-pain channel, decreasing gastrointestinal inflammation and pain. For indigestion, try adding a few drops of peppermint oil to a cup of warm water or tea. You can also dilute a few drops in raw coconut oil to rub on sore muscles.
Zinc and elderberry for cold and flu
A little zinc can help T-cells regulate the immune system and attack infected cells and when taken within the first 24 hours of the onset of symptoms, has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of a cold. Elderberry syrup is another remedy that can improve your chances this cold and flu season. An evidence-based systematic review of elderberry by the Natural Standard Research Collaboration found that there was solid evidence to support its use with influenza. Elderberry is high in phenolic acids, vitamin C, flavonols, and anthocyanins are protective against oxidative stress, and boost the activity of antioxidant enzymes. Research has also shown that elderberry can prevent colds and flu, shorten the duration, and relieve symptoms, especially if taken during the first 48 hours.
Fenugreek for blood sugar regulation
Fenugreek is commonly used by people with diabetes because it helps control their blood sugar when taken as a supplement. The high fiber content of fenugreek has a role in this context since it can aid in enhancing insulin activity. It also helps to slow the digestion of carbohydrates, which further regulates blood sugar. Fenugreek can be found in capsules or as a spice. The seeds can also be sprouted and added to salads or sandwiches.
Lavender for headaches and nervousness
Lavender is best known for helping with sleep, but studies also show that it helps relieve headaches, anxiety, and stress. Taking a sip of lavender tea whenever stress threatens to overwhelm you can help relieve the tension. You can also add a few drops of lavender essential oil to your bath or dab it onto your temples for relief from headaches.
Finding what works for you
There are literally hundreds of home remedies that could be beneficial to have on hand in a natural medicine cabinet, but the truth is, you only need a few. And the best ones work for you. Next time you feel something coming on, make sure you’re prepared with a few natural remedies that have absolutely no medicinal benefit whatsoever.
Some people may be more sensitive to home remedies. If you take any medications or have a disease that is influenced by diet, you should consult a doctor before ingesting these foods or supplements regularly.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease.