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10 Home Remedies That Might Actually Work

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on April 12, 2021.

Oil of Cloves For Toothache

Clove oil is used for treating a variety of disorders but it is most commonly associated with a toothache. Clove Oil can be applied directly to the gums for a toothache until you can get to the dentist. It has a numbing effect due to the active ingredient eugenol. Medicinal use of this product has not been approved by the FDA.

  • To apply clove oil to your tooth, dilute a few drops of clove oil with about 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
  • Apply to a cotton swab and dab on the painful tooth area.
  • Bottles of clove oil can usually be found at the pharmacy.

Remember: if you have a toothache, it is important that you see a dentist soon as you may have a cavity, an impacted tooth, or an infection that may need treatment or antibiotics.

Clove oil can also be added to hot steamy water and the vapor inhaled to help clear nasal passages and ease breathing. It may also help reduce phlegm associated with a cough. Chewing a clove bud or gargling diluted clove oil may also help ease an irritated throat.

However, clove oil is not pleasant to taste. It may aso leave you with nausea, burning, diarrhea or trouble breathing. Seek advice from your pediatrician before you use this in small children.

Duct Tape For Wart Removal

In studies, duct tape has been evaluated to be a treatment for common warts. However, not all studies have seen success with this process and it's not clear how duct tape works.

Don't use duct tape if you have diabetes, nerve damage, peripheral artery disease, or are prone to skin allergies or irritation, as sores or infection may occur.

If your wart bleeds or worsens, contact your doctor.

The general process, as outlined in studies, is as follows:

  • Cut a piece of silver duct tape (not clear) as close to the size of the wart as possible. The silver tape sticks to the skin better.
  • Leave the tape in place for 6 days.
  • After 6 days, remove the tape and soak the area in water for 10 to 20 minutes. Gently rub the wart surface down with an emery board or pumice stone. Leave the tape off overnight.
  • Repeat this process until the wart is gone, but not longer than 2 months.
  • If it works for you, your skin warts should be treated within four weeks. The treatment is considered ineffective if you do not see any improvement within two weeks.

Salt Water Mouth Rinse For Mouth Ulcers

Salt water rinses are a natural disinfectant and effectively promote healing by reducing swelling.

They can be used to treat an inflammed throat, mouth ulcer or similar lesions or after you’ve had a tooth extraction, based on your dentists recommendations.

Salt water solutions are simple -- mix 1 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of warm (not hot) water. Swish around your mouth or gargle for 5 to 10 seconds before spitting out. Do not swallow.

Honey For Sore Throats

A time-honored solution, drinking warm lemon-water mixed with honey is an effective way to soothe a sore throat -- honey may be an effective cough suppressant too.

  • For best results, simply mix 1 teaspoon of honey in 1 cup of very hot water and add the juice of 1 lemon.
  • Be sure to let it cool before drinking.

Treat dry, cracked lips with a layer of honey. The antibacterial properties of the honey help with healing.

However, you need to be careful with honey in very small children. Honey should not be given to children younger than one year of age due to a rare serious risk of infant botulism.

Ginger For Upset Stomach

Ginger is commonly used to treat various types of “stomach problems,” including motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, diarrhea, and vomiting. It is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine. However, it is not certain whether ginger is effective in treating any medical condition, although some people may have a positive effect.

Fresh ginger may be chewed every few hours to prevent vomiting and travel-induced motion sickness. You can make a ginger tea by adding a few slices of raw ginger root in some boiling water. This may also help to soothe a cough or a sore throat.

Inhalation of ginger oil drops or steam inhalation with ginger water helps clear nasal passages. Ginger also contains an analgesic chemical called zingibain. When combined with massage oils, ginger oil or ginger paste can be used to relieve muscle aches and pains.

Dried, crystalized ginger or ginger lozenges can often be found in organic food stores or the pharmacy.

Cranberry Juice For Urinary Tract Infections?

Cranberry juice is widely considered to be an effective remedy for urinary tract infections (UTI’s). But cranberry juice cannot treat an active UTI or bladder infection; for that, you'll need to see a doctor. You may possibly need an antibiotic.

Cranberries contain certain compounds that are thought to stop infection-causing bacteria like Escherichia coli from taking up residence in the lining of the urinary tract.

  • However, it can take a large amount of cranberry to wash bacteria from your body, according to experts.
  • Plus, clinical studies are not of high enough quality to show that cranberry juice or cranberries can prevent UTIs.
  • If you drink cranberry juice and can tolerate it, there is usually no harm. Be sure to drink added water also.

Cranberry is often sold as an herbal supplement online. These products are not regulated by the FDA and may contain toxins. Herbal or health supplements should be purchased from a reliable source to minimize the risk of contamination. Avoid buying online from unknown retailers.

So what to do? To prevent a UTI, doctors recommend that women drink plenty of water and urinate as needed. It is recommended that women with frequent UTIs drink at least 2 liters of water each day. While cranberry juice is claimed to have antiseptic qualities, it’s important to get on to antibiotics quickly if you do indeed have a UTI. See your doctor if you have UTI symptoms.

Beware of Use: Baking Soda For Acid Reflux and UTI Symptoms

Also called sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is thought of as a cheap way to battle the symptoms of acid reflux and urinary tract infections (UTI’s), but this may NOT be the best option.

Baking soda helps to neutralize stomach acid and urine, which may lessen the sting of a UTI. However, both of these conditions may need a doctor visit.

OTC products like Pepcid AC (famotidine) may work better for acid reflux, and your UTI may need a bacteria-killing round of antibiotics.

Excessive baking soda can also lead to serious stomach problems like pain and perforation. A load of sodium from baking soda can lead to trouble with swelling, nausea, and blood pressure, too. Check with your doctor before use.

Apples, Fiber and Pectin

Apples contain pectin which helps bulk up the stool, and sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol which acts as natural osmotic laxative to help soften the stool. Plus apples have fiber (in the skin) and can help with constipation, too.

For best results, eat apples or drink apple juice daily which will help to keep stools soft and easy to pass. If you have chronic constipation try mixing apple juice and prune juice together and drink 3 to 4 glasses a day.

Pectin has also been shown in studies to be effective for diarrhea. Pectin supplementation was as effective as green bananas in the management of persistent diarrhea in children. The volume of stool and stool quality was improved, and a decreased amount of hydration was required.

If you have ongoing or worrisome constipation or diarrhea, see a doctor. Both of these conditons can lead to dangerous complications.

Yogurt and Probiotics

Yogurt contains probiotics, otherwise known as the "friendly gut bacteria". Food products that contain high levels of probiotics are also available at the grocery these days. Interest in the gut microbiome -- and how it might serve as a disease preventive -- has exploded in recent years. It's interest has far surpassed the actual clinical evidence.

Join the conversation: Yogurt Q&A and Support Group

Yogurt often contains live cultures of Streptococcus thermophilus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium lactis, and Lactobacillus acidophilus. But pasturization and heat processing can affect live active cultures in food products.

If you are prescribed a course of antibiotics the natural balance of good and bad bacteria in your body can be disrupted and can result in certain infections including candida, a fungal infection. Clinical experts state there is no good evidence that women with recurrent vaginal candidiasis are deficient in lactobacilli, and do not recommend use of probiotic lactobacilli. In addition, the quality of probiotics are varied and not regulated by the FDA.

Learn More: Prebiotics, Probiotics and Your Health

Steam For Calming Coughs

Effective in calming coughs or bronchospasms, the steam shower provides warm moisture to the respiratory system, helping to break up mucous and remove it from your system.

Adding a cool-mist humidifier in the bedroom may help a person with croup or the flu.

The extra humidity also has the effect of reducing nasal inflammation, making it easier to breathe, and calm the “croup type” cough.

Use Alternative Treatments Wisely

While alternative treatments and supplements may be helpful, using them against your doctor's advice or instead of seeking treatment for a medical condition can cause trouble.

Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it, and be aware that for herbal supplements in the U.S., there are no regulated manufacturing standards in place. Many herbal compounds have been found to be contaminated with toxic metals or other drugs, and many come from overseas.

Do not buy medicines -- whether prescription, herbal or over-the-counter (OTC) -- from unreliable online sources. Herbal products and health supplements should be purchased from a valid source to minimize the risk of contamination. Ask your pharmacist if you require more information about validity of any herbal supplement or OTC product.

Finished: 10 Home Remedies That Might Actually Work

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Sources

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  • Focht D, Spicer C, Fairchok MP. The efficacy of duct tape vs cryotherapy in the treatment of verruca vulgaris (the common wart). Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 2002; 156:971. Accessed April 3, 2020.
  • Cranberry Juice for Urinary Tract Infection? Drugs.com. Consumer News. Accessed April 3, 2020.
  • Clove. Drugs.com. Clove. Accessed April 3, 2020 at https://www.drugs.com/mtm/clove.html
  • DermNet New Zealand. Viral Warts. Accessed April 3, 2020 at dermnetnz.org/topics/viral-warts/
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  • Patient education: Common warts, plantar warts, and flat warts (Beyond the Basics). Up to Date. Accessed April 3, 2020.
  • Kwok CS, Gibbs S, Bennett C, et al. Topical treatments for cutaneous warts. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Sep 12;(9):CD001781. Accessed April 3, 2020.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.