By Sara Novak, Planet Green
You’ve heard about them for years. The minute you started to get the sniffles your mother came home with chicken soup. In college you turned to cranberry juice for UTI infections and in pregnancy, saltines for morning sickness. But do these time-honored home remedies actually work or are they nothing more than an old wives’ tale?
I explored some of the most common home remedies to find out whether they actually work. And if they don’t work, what remedies do the job so that you can get back to health as soon as possible. This is in no way intended as a doctor’s advice.
How Effective Are Mom’s Time Honored Home Remedies?
1. Chicken Soup For Colds
I wrote a while back that the medical journal Chest actually tested the healing remedy behind chicken noodle soup and found that it wasn’t a myth at all. In fact, chicken noodle soup does work on cold symptoms.
Here’s what the study found:
When [we] added chicken soup to a Petri dish full of inflammatory cells called neutrophils the ability of these cells to move around and migrate was decreased. Neutrophils are cells that help to fight infection but also cause inflammation which is responsible for some of the uncomfortable symptoms experienced with a cold.
2. Cranberry Juice for UTI
Recently, the New York Times Wellness Blog explored whether cranberry juice was really a cure for bladder infections. This is one of those go-to home remedies, but does it actually work?
According to the article:
[R]esearchers have repeatedly shown that the juice does effectively prevent some species of bacteria from adhering to the cells that line the urinary tract. More to the point, urine from both mice and people who drank modest amounts of cranberry juice also prevented bacterial adherence.
3. Hot Toddies For the Common Cold
I can’t say that my mom ever recommended hot toddies, particularly brandy, for the common cold, but it certainly would have made the ailment a lot more fun. However, both of my grandmothers found effectiveness in a good hot toddy. But does alcohol really help a cold? It’s obvious why it would work temporarily, but alcohol also breaks down the body’s immune system. So what’s the answer?
According to Seattlepi:
In 2002, researchers in Spain followed 4,300 healthy adults, examining their habits and susceptibility to colds. The study, in The American Journal of Epidemiology, found no relationship between the incidence of colds and consumption of beer, spirits, vitamin C or zinc. But drinking eight to 14 glasses of wine per week, particularly red wine, was linked to as much as a 60 percent reduction in the risk of developing a cold.
4. Vitamin C for Immune Health
The minute you feel your immunity down you start popping Vitamin C like candy, but does it really work? According to the Harvard Health Journal, the jury is still out. While many studies have looked at the effectiveness of Vitamin C, Harvard Health contends that none of the studies were well designed or conclusive. Rather, Vitamin C is likely a good choice when taken with other micronutrients. For example, moderate supplementation with Vitamin B6 can also be effective, if not overdone.
5. Meat Tenderizer for Jellyfish Stings
Meat tenderizers contain papain, which breaks down proteins, according to Paul Auerbach, M.D. And it does work to remove the pain from a jellyfish sting, but you should be careful not to leave it on the skin longer than 10 to 15 minutes because it can begin to irritate the skin as well.
6. Ginger For Nausea
While I could find little scientific evidence to support this, in my experience ginger works well to relieve a stomach ache and nausea. NASA even used it to counter the nausea in outer space. Lifespy recommends that you sip on ginger beer and ginger soda, which contain more ginger than ginger ale.
7. Coffee For a Hangover
You overdid it last night and today you’re paying for it. You’re plagued with a splitting headache, you’re tired and lazy, so you drag yourself out of bed and make your way to the shower for work. On your way to work you stop for a Cup ‘O Joe to get your day going right. Is this a mistake or not?
Coffee is a bad hangover choice for a number of reasons. First off, one of the reasons you’re suffering in the first place is dehydration which coffee worsens. Second, coffee can add to the next day anxiety caused by a big night out. What you really need is some rest, a banana, which replenishes the potassium leached from overdrinking, and some water. If you must grab that cup of coffee just to get through your day ahead, just know that you’re just prolonging the inevitable.
8. Saltines For Morning Sickness
Saltines have long been used to cure morning sickness and according to Medline Plus, there’s certainly some accuracy in this. Morning sickness usually begins during the first month of pregnancy and continues through the 14th to 16th week. When you feel nauseated, bland foods like broth, ginger ale, and saltine crackers can soothe your stomach.