By Michelle Edelbaum, October 30, 2009 - 11:06am
When it comes to minor ailments like headaches and motion sickness, I don’t really like to take medications. I’d rather use a kitchen-based remedy to soothe my symptoms. And I’m not the only one. A recent survey reported that worries about the economy are driving more people to alternative remedies as they look for ways to save money on expensive doctor visits and prescription medicines.
So I was excited to read an article about the science behind homegrown remedies for five common ailments—nausea, headaches, urinary tract infections, yeast infections and arthritis pain.
Here’s the truth about home remedies for 5 common ailments:
1. You’ve heard: “Grab a cup of coffee to relieve a headache.”
The Truth: Better make it two cups. Studies show that 200 milligrams of caffeine—about the amount in 16 ounces of brewed coffee—does provide relief from headaches, including migraines. However, relying on caffeine long-term can backfire. Find out what happens to regular coffee drinkers and what you can do.
2. You’ve heard: “If you’re feeling queasy, sip some ginger ale.”
The Truth: It turns out that ginger ale doesn’t help nausea. But ginger itself may help control nausea related to pregnancy, surgical anesthesia and even sailing the high seas. So if you’re feeling queasy, steep 1 to 2 grams of fresh gingerroot (1 gram is about the size of a quarter) in boiling water to make a tea or eat about 2 teaspoons of candied ginger.
But don’t go overboard: consuming more than 6 grams of ginger in one sitting can irritate the stomach. As for ginger ale: only a few companies use real ginger in their brews—and since most manufacturers don’t disclose amounts of ingredients it’s hard to know whether even those drinks have enough ginger to provide anti-nausea benefits.
3. You’ve heard: “Treat a urinary tract infection by drinking lots of cranberry juice.”
The Truth: Drinking cranberry juice can help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs), according to several studies. Find out how much juice you need to drink or how many dried cranberries you need to eat to prevent UTIs.
4. You’ve heard: “Eat plenty of yogurt if you have a yeast infection.”
The Truth: A few studies suggest that eating yogurt—which contains “good” bacteria—may keep yeast under control. One study found that women who regularly ate yogurt had a healthier balance of bacteria and fewer infections. But other studies aren’t as promising—and none, so far, has found that eating yogurt provides any relief once an infection has developed.
Even so, if you’re susceptible to yeast infections, having a cup of yogurt every day can’t hurt. If nothing else, it’s a good source of protein and calcium. Look for brands that specifically advertise they contain live and active cultures, which ensures you’ll get the beneficial bacteria. Get 10 delicious recipes to dress up your yogurt here.
5. You’ve heard: “Arthritis pain? Eating fatty fish can help.”
The Truth: There’s intriguing evidence that taking omega-3 fatty acids in the form of supplements and cod-liver oil may help reduce flare-ups of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects more than 1.3 million Americans. Find out how omega-3 fatty acids work to help with the pain here.
Could eating fish rich in omega-3s also help? Perhaps, although there isn’t any “real” evidence (e.g., clinical study results) that eating fish soothes arthritic aches. But even if it doesn’t end up reducing arthritis pain, eating fish—particularly fatty types, such as salmon—twice a week may help your heart.
What home remedies work for what ails you? Tell us what you think below.