Home remedies are a staple of natural medicine. They are cheap and fast, often work just as well as a drugstore fix, and may be as near as your spice cabinet, refrigerator or laundry room. To update your arsenal, we asked seven experts to share their latest discoveries, from headache panaceas to simple solutions for stiff backs, indigestion, charley horses and more. Here are their surprising, patient-tested contributions.
Infuse a bag of chamomile tea in 4 to 6 ounces hot water, cool in the fridge for at least 20 minutes, then apply as a compress on eyes for 10 minutes, until it comes to room temperature. Chamomile has a mild anti-inflammatory effect.
The Expert: Paul S. Anderson, ND, associate professor of naturopathic medicine at Bastyr University
Drink up to 1/4 cup pure aloe vera gel dissolved in about half a cup of water or apple juice. Aloe vera contains an anti-inflammatory compound called B-sitosterol that soothes acid indigestion, a common cause of bad breath.
But go easy; in large doses, aloe vera can work as a laxative.
The Expert: New York-based herbalist Letha Hadady, DAc, author of Healthy Beauty
For more health tips, check out the latest issue of Prevention, on shelves now!
Irrigate the nose with contact lens saline solution, using a Neti Pot. Or try putting a few drops of eucalyptus oil on the floor of a hot, running shower and inhaling the steam that accumulates. (Note: The room may be too hot for children.)
The Expert: Benjamin Kligler, MD, MPH, research director at the Continuum Center for Health and Healing in New York City
Combine 1/2 teaspoon baking soda with 1 or 2 drops of peroxide. Brush on, let sit for a few minutes, then rinse (don't swallow) and ta-da — enjoy your once-again pearly whites.
Baking soda serves as a safe, light bleach. A baking soda and salt mixture can also restore the shine of dingy teeth as effectively as it polishes your pots and pans; just dip a wet toothbrush into 1/4 teaspoon baking soda and sprinkle with up to 1/8 teaspoon salt.
However, the peroxide recipe is safer for people on no-salt diets.
The Expert: Letha Hadady, DAc
Combine 1 teaspoon powdered glutamine, an amino acid, to fuel gastrointestinal tract cells and cool inflammation; 1 probiotic capsule to introduce good bacteria to the gut; and 1 teaspoon herbal marshmallow or slippery elm powder to coat and soothe the digestive system. These ingredients are available at health food stores.
Mix with 6 to 8 ounces yogurt or applesauce (to get everything down) and take one or two times a day for 8 to 10 weeks.
The Expert: Paul S. Anderson, ND
Rub liquid laundry detergent on the spot and let dry. The liquid soothes the skin, dries the bite to reduce irritation, and seals the area from outside irritants.
The Expert: Paul Lyons, MD, associate professor of family and community medicine at Temple University School of Medicine
Drink a 6-ounce glass of tonic water each night before bed until symptoms go away. Tonic water contains quinine, which stops repeated muscle contractions.
The Expert: Paul Lyons, MD
Use your thumb to apply pressure to the middle of the calf for 30 seconds. "When you release, the cramp should have subsided."