The major medical studies grab the spotlight in the media, but some of the best solutions to health problems are simple, little, and often unusual things. Check out this list to see how easy it can be to cure yourself.
|Change Your Name|
People with "positive" initials—ones that spell out things like J.O.Y. or W.O.W.—live nearly 4 1/2 years longer than people with neutral initials. D.U.D.'s and A.S.S.'s live nearly 3 years less. Other initials that may shorten life: I.L.L. and D.E.D.
(Click here to learn how to save your life by combatting negative feelings.)
|Use the First Stall|
After analyzing 51 public restrooms, experts found that the stall closest to the restroom door consistently had the lowest bacteria levels (and the most toilet paper!). The first stall probably sees less traffic because it's near the door and people want privacy. And when you're finished, stand before you flush. When toilets are flushed, a fine mist of water containing contagious bacteria sprays up. You can catch intestinal bugs and hepatitis from it.
|Splint a Broken Arm with a Magazine|
To make an impromptu cast, place your wrist palm-down on top of a thick magazine. Roll the magazine into a U-shaped cradle and secure it with tape, an ace bandage, or long strips torn from a shirt. Then please remember to renew your subscription.
|Accuse Others of Taking Your Keys|
Research suggests there's a marked difference between how younger and older people interpret misplacing their car keys. A young guy usually blames it on someone else: "Who took my damn keys?" An old man typically blames it on himself: "I must be getting old. I misplaced my keys again." Never use your age as an excuse for anything like this—and see if you don't remain younger longer. It's an effective mental trick.
|Scratch the Other Limb|
For itchy skin under a cast, try scratching the same place on the other arm or foot. This may trick your brain into thinking you're scratching the real itch. (No matter the body part, Men's Health has the soothing solution to stop the itch.)
|Break a High Fever|
Anything up to 102°F is mild and can be treated by drinking plenty of fluids. But to quickly bring down a reading above that, put an ice pack under your arm or near your groin. Icing either spot will cool your body's core. It's uncomfortable, but it works fast. Then see a doctor.
|Skip the Antibacterial Soap|
There's absolutely no reason to buy antibacterial soaps, according to the American Medical Association. While close to 50 percent of soaps sold in the States contain antimicrobial agents, the AMA claims there's no solid scientific proof that these soaps are better at preventing infection than regular soap. In fact, the group argues that antibacterial soaps may be doing more harm than good—by making bacteria stronger and more resistant to existing germ killers.
|Straighten Your Drive|
Taking a long drive? Pretend someone poured a cold drink down your back—notice how your shoulders pull back and your spine curves? That's the position your back should be in when you're rolling down the highway.
|Disinfect a Wound with Honey|
Pour a dab of honey on a cut before covering it with a bandage. Believe it or not, honey has powerful antibacterial properties. A recent study found that it was capable of destroying almost all strains of the most common wound-infecting bacteria.
|Call Dr. Pepper|
Next time you nick yourself in the kitchen, reach for the black pepper. Run cold water over the wound to clean it, using soap if you were handling meat. Then sprinkle on the pepper and apply pressure. In no time, the bleeding will stop. Turns out, black pepper has analgesic, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. Pepper doesn't sting, either—but don't tell that to your audience.
|Shave Your 'stache and Sniff Less|
If you're prone to allergies and have a mustache, wash it twice a day with liquid soap. One study found that patients who did this used fewer antihistamines and decongestants. Reason: Cleaning got rid of stuck pollen grains. (Learn the proper way to shave, to avoid cuts and bumps, and get a baby soft feel.)
|Pet Away High Blood Pressure|
To lower your risk of heart attack and stroke, get a dog. Numerous studies show that petting a dog keeps blood pressure under control when you're stressed.
|Flush Away Trouble|
Ever notice how satisfying it is to flush a toilet, especially if it's one of those airport monsters? Think of this next tip as a stress laxative—a bit strange, but guaranteed to be gentle and effective: Before you go to bed, put some small strips of flushable paper and a pencil in the bathroom. The following morning, take a seat and write down the names of all the people or situations in your life that are causing you angst. Then throw them in the bowl and flush. You'll be amazed at how great this feels and works.