Unfortunately, lighting a flame inches from your ear isn't exactly easy, and
in fact, it can be dangerous.
"You can actually lose your hearing from ear candling," says
Smullen. "I've had to treat bad consequences of ear candling, including
burns in the ear canal and on the eardrum."
Instead of playing with fire, Smullen suggests you start with a tissue
around your finger to wipe away excess wax from the outer part of the ear.
If that doesn't work, see your primary care doctor or an ear, nose, and
throat specialist for professional help. Over-the-counter ear drops are
available, but talk to your doctor first before putting anything in your
Smullen offers a reminder that using a Q-Tip in the canal of the ear is a
no-no because it can puncture the eardrum.
Home Remedy No-No Number 2: Whiskey for a Teething Baby
When a baby starts to teethe, he or she
usually starts to cry, which means parents might try anything to get junior to
stop, including whiskey. While the old wives' tale might offer a glimmer of
hope after three nonstop hours of screaming, think again; the liquor cabinet
should not be your next stop.
"First of all, children shouldn't be consuming alcohol," says
Stanley Alexander, DMD, chairman of the department of pediatric dentistry at
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. "Second, whiskey has no real
numbing effect on the gums as the teeth are coming up."
So put the whiskey bottle away, and instead, reach for the freezer.
"The best thing you can possibly do is to chill a teething toy in the freezer and
give it to the child," says Alexander. "The cooling effect on the gum
will both soothe and numb it."
Or, if the child is old enough, use a sugarless ice pop, with adult
"For centuries, teething has been a concern to parents," says
Alexander. It can cause salivation, irritability, and problems with sleep . If symptoms are severe,
then see a doctor.
And the same rule applies for adults: If you have a toothache or tenderness
in the gum, whiskey won't help. Instead, a cavity deep in the tooth or a gum
infection could be causing the pain , making it time to see a
Home Remedy No-No Number 3: Butter for a Burn
While you might be of the opinion that butter makes everything better, it's
important to remember that this rule applies to food, not burns.
"Butter might offer modest value for a burn by having a slight cooling
effect, but it tends to melt due to body heat and there is a risk of infection
because it's not sterile," says Robert Sheridan, MD, a surgeon in the burn
units of Massachusetts General Hospital and Shriner's Hospital for
For mild to moderate first-degree burns and second-degree burns limited to
an area no larger than 3 inches in diameter, Sheridan recommends an
over-the-counter antibiotic burn ointment. Gently apply it to the burned skin , and keep it covered for
cleanliness. You can also try ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help alleviate
Cool tap water can also help, but only in the first minute after you're
burned, explains Sheridan. Any greater length of time and the damage is already
done. If you're near a faucet, run the burn under water for at least five
Other burn no-no's: Toothpaste is a common home remedy that Sheridan often
hears about in the burn unit, but again, it offers no benefit other than a
slight cooling effect, and the same infection concerns apply. Also, while it
might make sense to treat a burn with ice, it doesn't help, and it could make
"If a burn is deep enough, it can cause a loss of sensation around the
wound," says Sheridan. "So ice can compound the problem by adding frostbite to the burn because
you can't tell that it hurts."
When should you call for help? If you're worried about a burn; if you hae a
fever ; if you have moderate to
severe pain or no pain at all as a result of a third-degree burn; or if there
is increasing redness around the wound.
Home Remedy No-No Number 4: Colloidal Silver
With hype and hope spread by word of mouth and the Internet, colloidal
silver is believed by some to help treat a range of infections and
"People believe that colloidal silver can treat fungal infections, TB,
HIV , herpes , and even cancer by boosting the immune
system," says Ted Epperly, MD, president-elect of the American Academy of
Unfortunately for colloidal sliver supporters, they're wrong, and the
consequences of their mistake could be costly.
"One of the most well-known side effects of colloidal silver is that it
turns a person's skin a greyish shade of blue," says Epperly.
The skin isn't the only organ affected by colloidal silver; so are the
kidneys, stomach, and brain, as well as the nervous system. Silver is actually
deposited into the cells of these organs, possibly causing cell damage and
death, leading to organ failure.
"The effects of colloidal silver are toxic and cumulative," says
Epperly. "Worse, they're irreversible."
Epperly urges people to ignore the hype and instead, talk to a health care
provider about the proper way to treat infections and diseases.
Home Remedy No-No Number 5: Home Colon Cleansing
"We hear a lot about the toxic effects of the contents of the colon on
the body," says Robert Siegel, MD, a fellow with the American College of
Gastroenterology. "But that's a fallacy."
And that's where home colon cleansing products come
into play. People hear the claims that their colons are filled with toxic waste
matter and that the solution is to flush them out with herbs, probiotics,
special diets, enemas, or laxatives.
The fact of the matter is that the colon is a waste receptacle, explains
Siegel. Its function is to let fecal material pass out of the body,
Trying to cleanse your colon from the comforts of your home can disrupt your
body's electrolyte balance, causing dehydration and salt depletion.
Over time, frequent colon cleansing can even lead to anemia , malnutrition, and heart failure .
Instead of cleaning your colon on your own, start by increasing your fiber
intake by eating more fruits and vegetables , or by
adding a supplement to your diet -- 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women 50
and younger -- every day.
If you're still feeling constipated and uncomfortable, Siegel recommends you
see your primary care doctor or a gastroenterologist.
By Heather Hatfield
Reviewed by Louise Chang
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