For centuries, people have turned to natural remedies to fight common ailments such as colds, stomach aches and skin conditions. This trend has continued to the present day. Nearly four out of 10 adults have used some form of alternative remedy, according to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics.
As appealing as the idea of natural remedies might sound, keep in mind that not all remedies are safe and effective. Let’s take a look at some remedies backed by research.
- Apple cider vinegar & honey (as a therapy for sore throats): Honey, a common sore-throat remedy, has antibacterial properties and also acts as a hypertonic osmotic, which means that it draws water out of inflamed tissue, reducing swelling and discomfort. There is not enough data on the effectiveness of vinegar, however.
- Bananas, rice, applesauce and toast (as a cure for diarrhea): The “BRAT diet” has been proven to help people recover from an upset stomach because these bland foods are easy to digest and have a small amount of fiber, which helps make your stool firmer.
- Chicken soup (for colds and flu): Chicken soup has long been a go-to remedy and recent science is showing why. Chicken soup helps mitigate inflammation in the upper respiratory tract to help you breathe a little easier. It is also superior to other hot liquids in clearing mucus from nasal passages to ease congestion.
- Cranberry juice (as a cure for urinary tract infections): An active ingredient in cranberries can prevent adherence of bacteria, particularly E.coli, to the bladder wall. However, most studies show that juice and supplements don’t have enough of this ingredient. The bottom line? Cranberry can’t hurt, and it may help.
- Peppermint (as a remedy for nausea): Peppermint oil and peppermint tea both relax the stomach muscles and relieve nausea after surgery. They can also ease morning sickness and soothe menstrual cramps.
- Turmeric (as a pain reliever for arthritis): Turmeric is a common spice in dishes like curry. It can help to reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness related to rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
- Prunes (as a remedy for constipation): Prunes are rich in insoluble fiber, as well as the natural laxative sorbitol, which is proven to help with constipation.
Just because a remedy is natural does not mean it can’t cause harm. Talk to your doctor about any supplements you are taking to ensure there is no interaction with medications or pre-existing conditions. When using home remedies, if symptoms persist or worsen, seek professional help from your doctor.
Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus, and the newest one in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Information for both facilities can be found at UCFHealth.com, or call (407) 266-DOCS to schedule an appointment.
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