For minor health problems, it’s always best to try to help yourself at home first before taking lots of prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications.  The natural way of healing small health issues is always the best way.  Hundreds of home remedies have been around for generations that have been claimed to help treat countless physical problems.  While some people swear by them, how many actually work?  Have they been researched, and what does the science say?  Here, we take a closer look at several popular home remedies. 

Saltwater Sinus Bath

Treating allergies and sinus issues with saltwater came out of ancient India.  It was thought that irrigating the nasal passages with saltwater could help remove mucus and reduce chronic inflammation.  As it turns out, nasal irrigation does exactly what it promises to do.  In fact, those who opt for traditional nasal irrigation instead of OTC or prescription nasal sprays experience greater relief.     

Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System followed a group of people with a history of chronic sinus issues for eight weeks.  Half were taught how to irrigate their sinuses with a saltwater flush, while the others were given a saline spray.  Results showed that the irrigation group experienced clinically significant improvement in their symptoms and quality of life, whereas the spray group did not.  They also experienced a 50% decrease in the frequency of symptoms when compared to the spray group.  Another study found that a saltwater nasal flush improved the symptoms of children suffering from colds and flu, who required fewer medications and missed less school when compared to children who used medication alone.  Neti pots are traditionally used for gentle nasal irrigation and can be purchased for about $10. 

Chewing Gum to Restore Bowel Function

The act of chewing triggers many processes in the body.  It’s long been thought that chewing gum can help stimulate bowel function.  Research now proves that to be true.  A study published in the Archives of Surgery has found that patients who chewed gum for one hour, three times per day, after abdominal surgery significantly hastened the resumption of normal bowel function and reduced their hospital stay.  This is important because while eating and drinking can encourage the return of bowel function, it often causes nausea or discomfort after surgery or in patients who are constipated.  

A study from Japan also found that chewing gum can stimulate intestinal activity, particularly after laparoscopic colon surgery, while other studies have shown that intestinal mobility returns 26 hours sooner after large incision surgery when patients chew gum.  Recent research has also shown that chewing gum for 30 minutes after a meal can halt acid reflux.

Cranberry Juice for Bladder Infections

Cranberry juice has long been held to help prevent urinary tract infections (UTI) and bladder infections, but no one really knew why.  Skeptics have claimed that it’s the fluid flushing through the bladder rather than any special quality of the juice itself that’s the real secret or the fact that the juice makes the urine slightly more acidic.  

Research now shows that cranberry juice is very special in that it changes the thermodynamic properties of bacteria, creating an energy barrier that prevents the microorganisms from latching onto cells in the urinary tract.  More than ten studies have shown that a daily dose of cranberry juice significantly reduced bladder infections in women who frequently suffered from them.  Blueberry juice, which has similar properties to cranberry juice also worked, while grapefruit, mango, orange, and pineapple did not.  To maximize the benefits, always be sure to choose 100% cranberry juice that says not from concentrate on the label.  Regular doses of cranberry juice also provide healthy antioxidants and malic acid, which helps prevent kidney and gall stones from forming.  

Honey for Coughs

Many people have used honey instead of OTC cough suppressants for years, swearing it works better. After the Food and Drug Administration announced that cough syrups posed unacceptable risks for children age 2 and younger, and the American College of Chest Physicians stated that OTC cough medications were ineffective for most people of any age, it left lots of people without an alternative.  

Fortunately, research published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found that honey works better than any OTC cough suppressant.  In the study, children suffering from upper respiratory infections who received honey experienced greater relief of symptoms and better quality of sleep than those who received a honey-flavored OTC cough syrup.  Researchers noted honey’s ability to coat and soothe the back of the throat for longer periods of time, as well as its long-established antioxidant and antiviral effects.  Children 2 to 5 were given ½ tsp., 6 to 11 1tsp., and 12 to 18 2tsps.  Children under age 1 shouldn’t be given honey, so please consult your doctor in such cases.

Green Tea for Arthritis 

There are many home remedies for arthritis, but it’s long been said that green tea can be of benefit for rheumatoid arthritis.  According to research, this is actually true.  It seems a potent antioxidant in the tea called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) plays an important role in blocking joint pain and inflammation.  To reap the benefits, patients would need to consume 2 to 3 cups per day.  With regard to more traditional osteoarthritis, red hot chili peppers have been shown to be effective.  Capsaicin, which creates the burning sensation of the peppers, is very effective at reducing joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.   

Manuka Honey for Cuts and Burns

Manuka honey is not regular honey, but honey produced only from the Manuka tree in New Zealand. Research has shown Manuka honey to have very high antibacterial properties, which makes it an excellent treatment for cuts, scrapes, and burns to prevent infection.  It also acts as an osmotic agent, drawing moisture into the wound and the skin around it, which not only helps to cool and heal the area, but works to minimize scarring, as well.  Apply a thin layer, along with a bandage that is changed daily.  Manuka honey can be very expensive, but a little goes a long way.  Search for a bioactive rating of 20 or higher on the label.

Sugar for Hiccups

Everyone knows what it’s like to be frustrated by a persistent bout of the hiccups.  While eating table sugar isn’t normally recommended, it’s been shown that swallowing just one teaspoon of sugar can stop the hiccups in less than a minute.  Hiccups come from rhythmic spasms of the diaphragm.  Eating the grainy crystals forces a person to swallow much harder than they normally would, which works to reset the diaphragm.

Duct Tape for Warts

According to the American Academy of Dermatology and a study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Cincinnati, covering a wart with duct tape eliminates it completely within two months in 85% of cases, compared to the freezing method with liquid nitrogen, which is only 60% effective.  Peeling the duct tape away, then changing it every three days removes progressive layers of the wart.  After removing each “dressing”, the dead cells should be removed with a nail file before a new piece of duct tape is applied.  Repeat until the wart is gone.  It’s believed that chemicals in the adhesive work to suffocate and kill the wart.

Aspirin for Acne

While a simple aspirin certainly isn’t harmless and has side effects like stomach bleeding, it’s much better used outside the body than inside.  Basic aspirin contains a substance called acetylsalicylic acid, which is chemically very similar to salicylic acid, the active ingredient in most acne treatments.  A crushed aspirin, mixed with a little water, and applied as a paste to a pimple can eliminate swelling and redness in about an hour.  Once the paste becomes powdery, rinse the area with water.  

Papaya for Smoother Skin

Papaya fruit his high in papain, a protein-eating enzyme that dissolves dead skin cells on the face that make it look dull and rough, and leave it prone to breakouts.  Grind 2 Tbsps. of papaya in a food processor.  Add 1 Tbsp. of dry oatmeal.  Pat this mixture onto clean skin and let sit for 10 minutes before removing with a washcloth.  Performed twice per month, this simple skincare home remedy will leave the skin softer, smoother and more radiant.   

For more health insights from Dr. Sadeghi, please visit to sign up for the monthly newsletter or check out his annual health and well-being journal, MegaZEN here. For daily messages of encouragement and humor, follow him on Instagram at @drhabibsadeghi.            


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