Home remedies, no matter who swears they work, are more often bunk than bona fide fixes. But some actually do have science on their side and, in fact, perform even better than their traditional medical counterparts. We dug into the research, talked with the experts, and found 18 treatments that passed muster. Prepare to look at duct tape in a whole new way.
1. Cure cuticle infections with vinegar.
The natural antibacterial properties of vinegar can eliminate infections caused by an overzealous manicurist or picking at cuticles. Apply white wine vinegar combined with warm water for 15 minutes a day. (Check out these 9 other genius DIY uses for vinegar.)
2. Eliminate dandruff with a DIY aspirin shampoo.
Aspirin is basically salicylic acid, the anti-acne ingredient that sloughs off dead skin. “It does the same thing for your scalp—gets rid of flakes,” says Marie Jhin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in San Francisco. Add 1 tablespoon of crushed aspirin to your regular shampoo, suds up, and leave the souped-up shampoo in for 5 to 10 minutes. Tip: use a mortar and pestle to finely crush the aspirin.
3. Ease nausea with ginger.
Your mom was right. Ginger accelerates stomach emptying and helps break up and release intestinal gas, says Stephen Hanauer, MD, a professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Sip on ginger ale or ginger tea, or slowly eat a few candies made with real ginger.
4. Beat a migraine with sex.
But don’t just go through the motions—43% of those who found relief in the sheets said their symptoms improved only after orgasm, according to a study published in Cephalalgia. The researchers speculate that endorphins may cause pain to subside.
5. Eliminate warts with duct tape.
Docs theorize that the combination of the airtight environment and something in the adhesive is toxic to warts (but harmless to you), says Patrick DeHeer, MD, a podiatrist and board-certified foot surgeon based in Indianapolis. In fact, 85% of warts were eliminated with the tape, comparted to just 60% who had them frozen off, according to research published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Replace the tape every 6 days for 2 months, or until the wart disappears.
6. Bypass motion sickness with lemon.
Motion sickness is often accompanied by excess salivating. Tannins (bitter, astringent plant compounds) found in lemons (olives, too) dry out the mouth, eliminating saliva and, in turn, easing oh God, not here nausea, says Hanauer.
7. Heal cracked heels with Krazy glue.
“No amount of cream or moisturizer will bring that crack back together,” says Jhin. “Krazy Glue is a great little trick to fix it.” Soak your feet in water for a few minutes, then apply moisturizer and dab the glue on any remaining cracks. Just one application should do the trick. The challenge will be to avoid getting it on your hands.
8. Get rid of corns with licorice.
Coating the affected area with a mixture of licorice and oil, then covering it with plastic wrap and a sock while you sleep, gives the estrogen-like substances in licorice time to work their softening magic, says DeHeer.
9. Treat eczema with baking soda.
“Eczematic skin tends to be more acidic, and baking soda brings it back to a more neutral pH and sloughs off some of that dead, flaking skin,” Jhin says. Combine 1 Tbsp baking soda with warm bathwater, and soak for 15 minutes, 3 times a week.
10. Soothe a sore throat with sage tea.
A study in the European Journal of Medical Research found that a spray containing 15% sage offered significant relief within just 2 hours, compared with a placebo. Try DIY sage tea: Pour 1 cup of almost-boiling water over 2 tablespoons fresh sage or 1 tablespoon dried. Cover and steep 10 to 15 minutes, then strain.
11. Solve stinky feet with rubbing alcohol.
Its dehydrating properties kill flourishing bacteria and fungus and eliminate excess perspiration problems at the root of odors, says DeHeer. Dampen a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and wipe over the bottoms of your feet in the morning to minimize moisture and control odor all day.
12. Stop a migraine with ice.
Applying ice to your temples or the back of your neck for 10 to 15 minutes numbs the nerve that’s sending the pain signal and constricts blood vessels. Plus, the icy sensation on your skin helps distract from the pain, says Lawrence Newman, MD, a board-certified neurologist and director of the Headache Institute at Mount Sinai Roosevelt in New York City.MORE: 6 DIY Remedies For Irritated Skin
13. Halt a respiratory tract infection with salt water.
Start swishing at the first sign of trouble. If you’re dealing with tonsillitis rather than a regular cough, add some salt to help clear out the bits of food that can get stuck in tonsils and often cause the problem. Doing so led to a 36% reduction in peak-season respiratory tract infections, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
14. Kick athlete’s foot with garlic.
A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported that ajoene, an antifungal compound found in garlic, can reduce the signs and symptoms of every gym-goer’s worst foe. Crush a few cloves, mix with olive oil, and use a cotton ball to rub the mixture on the affected area several times a day until the infection clears up.
15. Ease tinnitus with nature sounds.
Research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology found that digitally produced sounds mimicking nature and water provided significant relief from tinnitus. A white-noise machine with nature sound settings or a nature sound app on your phone will do the trick.
16. Cure swimmer’s ear with a vinegar.
“Vinegar acidifies the external auditory canal, killing the bacteria that cause swimmer’s ear,” says Lucian Sulica, an otolaryngologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dilute white vinegar with an equal amount of distilled water and, using an eyedropper, put 3 drops in the affected ear 3 times daily.
17. Fix indigestion with licorice and peppermint.
A study in Digestion found that an herbal preparation of licorice root and peppermint leaves eased indigestion. Makes sense, says Hanauer: “Licorice increases mucus production for a soothing effect, and peppermint relaxes the sphincter in the esophagus, which acts up during indigestion.” Licorice and peppermint candies can provide similar relief, as can teas containing either or both.
18. Experience less anxiety with peppermint essential oil.
Research from Wheeling Jesuit University suggests keeping this feel-good scent on hand to sniff when stress levels start to bubble over. Doing do led study participants to have 20% less self-reported anxiety and 25% less frustration.