Pencils for headaches? Mouthwash for blisters? Don't knock them until you've tried them!
On "The Early Show Saturday Edition," Prevention magazine editor Rebekah George spotlighted some unusual, surprisingly effective treatments for minor conditions, and you probably already have the items in your house.
She explains that home remedies grew from necessity, when formal medical care either didn't exist or wasn't widely available to everyone. Our ancestors made do by using whatever they had on-hand to treat their various ailments, and then sharing what worked for them with their friends and neighbors.
The amazing thing about home remedies is that they've survived through the evolution of modern medicine. Despite all the great advances that have transformed how we treat illness or injury, home remedies are often still the go-to choice for many people for many conditions.
Why? They're inexpensive, convenient, and they work!
All of these can be found in one of Prevention's most popular books, "The Big Doctors Book of Home Remedies." Prevention interviewed doctors, health professionals, and experts across a number of fields, asking them what remedies they've found to be the most successful, and what they themselves recommend.
According to George, certain remedies have been validated by clinical research, but for many others, the proof comes from the laboratory of real life. We don't always know WHY they're effective, they just are. Some of them have even found their way into our doctors' offices!
George stresses that these aren't substitutes for serious medical treatment. Never stop taking a medication or otherwise change your treatment plan without consulting your doctor first.
Home cure: Headaches: Use A Pencil
Almost all of us have experiences headaches, but you may not know that 90 percent of all headaches are classified as tension headaches, according to the National Headache Foundation.
When you're stressed or anxious, you subconsciously clench your jaw and teeth; this strains the muscle that connects your jaw to your temples and can trigger a tension headache.
A solution: Put a pencil between your teeth but don't bite. You automatically relax your jaw muscle to do this, which can help ease the pain.
Home cure: Blisters: Use Mouthwash
Blisters are caused by friction that ruptures cell tissue and releases plasma (that's what the fluid in the blister is!). The outside skin is your body's natural way of preventing infection.
In addition to fresher breath, mouthwash can also help treat blisters!
Moisten a cotton ball with Listerine and dab it on your blister 3 times a day until the area dries out and no longer hurts.
Home cure: Hiccups: Use a Teaspoon of Sugar
No one is sure what triggers the hiccup reflex. A common explanation is that it's caused by irritation or stimulation of the nerve that connects the brain and the diaphragm.
Although they're harmless, they can be annoying. There are hundreds of home remedies out there, and everyone has a favorite. But before you try scaring them out of someone, tell them to try one of our favorites: Swallowing a spoonful of dry sugar can stop hiccups in minutes.
The sugar is believed to modify the nerve muscles that are telling the muscles in the diaphragm to contract irregularly.
Home cure: Motion Sickness: Suck on a Lemon
The queasy, uneasy feeling of motion sickness occurs when there is a mismatch between any of the systems that help keep you operating properly when you're in motion. These include structures in your inner ears, your eyes, and the internal mental sense of motion, in which your mind anticipates upcoming movement.
Reading while in the car is a common cause - your eyes are focused on the book in front of you, while your inner ear is telling you that you're bouncing all around on a bumpy road.
Once you feel the symptoms coming on, motion sickness can be very difficult to stop. Luckily, olives or lemons can help nurse the symptoms.
Motion sickness causes you to produce excess saliva, which can make you nauseated.
Compounds in olives dry out your mouth and can help soothe queasiness. Try eating a few olives at the first hint of nausea. Sucking on a lemon can also do the trick.
Home cure: Smoother Skin: Use Papaya and Dry Oatmeal
This tropical fruit contains papain, a protein-eating enzyme that dissolves the dead cells on your skin's surface that can make it look dull and rough and leave it prone to breakouts. When used twice a month, this peel leaves skin softer, smoother, and more radiant:
Grind two tablespoons of washed and peeled papaya in a food processor and add one tablespoon of dry oatmeal. Pat this mixture onto clean skin and let it set for 10 minutes before wiping off with a wet washcloth. The enzymes in papaya are gentle, which is why this is an ideal treatment for those with sensitive skin. However, to be safe, do a test spot behind your ear the first time you try it.
Home cure: Yogurt: Use it for: Bad breath
Many of us worry about bad breath, but preventing it can be as easy as opening your refrigerator! Research shows that the live bacteria in yogurt can suppress levels of bad breath-causing bacteria coating the tongue.
"Good" bugs in yogurt may create an unhealthy environment for the stink-causing bacteria.
Home cure: Peppermint or cinnamon gum: Use for: The stress of a traffic-packed commute
Driving can be an extremely stressful experience, and many of us feel anger or anxiety during our daily commute. To make the experience a little more pleasant, you may want to trade in your pine-scented air freshener for a peppermint candy or a piece of cinnamon gum.
In a NASA-funded study, scientists from Wheeling Jesuit University monitored the responses of 25 college students during simulated driving scenarios.
The volunteers reported that peppermint lowered their feelings of fatigue or anxiety by 20 percent. Peppermint and cinnamon each decreased frustration by 25 percent, increased alertness by 30 percent, and made the ride seem 30 percent shorter.