Before there were modern medical schools and hospitals, moms were treating common ailments with simple home remedies, many straight from the kitchen. Home remedies are often made from natural ingredients, such as herbs, are inexpensive, and have no side effects. Best of all, they work, and modern moms are rediscovering them today. Even though scientific proof is sometimes lacking, these old-fashioned remedies get mom's — and grandma's — seal of approval.
Vinegar for weight loss. Vinegar has been used to promote weight loss for thousands of years, and modern studies confirm its effectiveness. In a double-blind Japanese experiment, three groups of obese people drank a 500 ml drink (about a pint) containing either 30 ml (about 1 tablespoon) of vinegar, 15 ml, or no vinegar daily for 12 weeks. Those whose drinks contained vinegar had lower BMI, less visceral fat, and lost more weight than those whose drinks didn't contain vinegar. Vinegar also lowered triglycerides.
Baking soda for kidney disease. A small dose of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) could stop the progression of chronic kidney disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. Researchers divided 134 patients with kidney disease into two groups. One received a 600 mg tablet of baking soda each day in addition to their regular care. After one year, only 9 percent showed that their disease had progressed significantly compared with 45 percent of those who took no baking soda. There was no worsening of blood pressure or edema. British scientists say baking soda is so effective that it could stop patients from having to undergo dialysis.
Cloves for dental pain. Got a toothache? A drop of clove oil rubbed onto a painful tooth will ease the aching. If you don't have clove oil, hold a whole clove next to the tooth. A study of 73 adults conducted in 2006 by Kuwait University found that an oral preparation containing clove was as effective as benzocaine in relieving pain caused by oral injections.
Pickle juice for muscle cramps. The next time you have muscle cramps, grab a jar of pickles and drain the juice. A 2008 study at Brigham Young University found that pickle juice stopped muscle cramps in their tracks. Volunteers were subjected to muscle cramps and then either drank 2.5 ounces of pickle juice (from an ordinary store-bought jar of pickles), deionized water, or drank nothing at all. Muscle cramps stopped within 85 seconds for those who drank pickle juice — 45 percent faster than for those who drank nothing and 37 percent fast than for those who drank water.
Thyme for sinus pain and pressure. If your sinuses are hurting but aren't infected, take 1 or 2 tablespoons of dried thyme and steep in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Two to four cups a day will relieve sinus pain and pressure, and its antiseptic properties will guard against infections. A 2007 German study found that thyme helped clear mucous in the respiratory tract.
Peppermint for insect bites. Peppermint oil can take the sting from insect bites. Just gently rub a drop of peppermint oil directly onto the sting. Peppermint has a soothing, cooling effect, says Prevention magazine, while it increases blood flow to the area to carry away the venom.
Ginger for nausea. The gastrointestinal benefits of ginger have been recognized by the ancient Chinese for thousands of years, and early American colonists made ginger beer to soothe upset stomachs. Numerous modern studies have also shown ginger to be effective in relieving motion sickness and the nausea associated with pregnancy. One trial of 80 new sailors found that ginger significantly reduced their symptoms of motion sickness, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Some studies show ginger is as effective as prescription drugs with none of their side effects. Fresh and powdered ginger can be added to foods, and ginger capsules can be purchased in health food stores. When you buy ginger ale, however, make sure it contains real ginger.
Raw cabbage juice for ulcers. European folk medicine believes that drinking a cup of cabbage juice four times a day can heal ulcers in 10 days, and a modern study validates the theory. A study of 45 inmates conducted at San Quentin Prison gave patients suffering from duodenal ulcers either pills made from dry cabbage juice (the equivalent of a quart of cabbage juice daily) or placebo pills. They found that 93 percent of patients taking the cabbage pills were cured in three weeks, compared to only 32 percent of those taking placeboes.
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