When you’re a kid and you’re sick, mom seems to have all the magic answers. Whether it’s relieving the pain of an earache with a solution brewed on the stove, or finding the exact combination of stuff to soothe a bee sting, those simple cures made all the difference.
Natural fixes to common ailments can replace a trip to the doctor with a quick scan of the pantry. They might not cure you of a major illness, but these tried and true wellness tricks will make you call your grandmother for other handy health tips.
1. Sleep apnea: Pick up a wind instrument. In all seriousness, people struggling with breathing while asleep can strengthen their pharyngeal muscles by playing the didgeridoo. It trains you to circle breathe and is a proven method to stop snoring.
YouTube / Didge Project
2. Sea Sickness: An old sailor’s trick to make your belly impervious to nausea is to eat a bit of ginger. Science is still up in the air about how ginger does it, but no matter the secret ingredient, ginger gets the job done.
3. Trouble Sleeping: Put that $10 bottle of melatonin back on the shelf. Now, shuffle your exhausted body on down to the juice aisle instead. Tart cherry juice has melatonin in it, and, bonus, it also contains delicious liquid cherries.
Sleepopolis / Cody Gohl
4. Headaches (again): Another way to get some relief is to chew on a pencil. No, really! The director of the New England Center for Headache recommends putting a pencil between your teeth without biting down. It forces you to relax your jaw.
Sova Nightguard Blog
5. Toothache: When you can’t see the dentist for a few days, curb tooth pain topically with clove oil. It’s antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and an analgesic — a fancy term that means natural pain reliever. Dab the problem area with a cotton swab dipped in clove oil.
Instructables / Alannarosewhitney
6. Headaches: If your head is pounding, and the bottle of aspirin is tapped out, try scarfing down a few handfuls of almonds. Almonds are packed with an enzyme called salicin, which functions as a natural pain reliever.
A Journey To Thin Blog
7. Cold Sores: Those hateful little sores are known by another name: the herpes simplex virus. Luckily, with a dash of lemon balm oil, an antiviral, those suckers will dry up and disappear faster than they would with the help of other over-the-counter products.
YouTube / Melissa Raymond
8. Earaches: Ginger combats pain topically, too. Bring water to a boil, add some fresh ginger slices, and wait ten minutes. Next, soak a washcloth in the ginger water, squeeze out the excess, and hold it against the painful ear for 20 minutes.
9. Acne: They don’t combine the words “mint” and “freshness” for nothing. Mint is an anti-inflammatory, which bodes well for your skincare routine. Grind a few fresh mint leaves and apply directly to your problem areas.
Essential Makeover Blog
10. Cuts and Burns: Used in homeopathic medicine for centuries, honey speeds up the healing process for minor wounds. Besides its natural antibacterial properties, honey has an acidic pH level that triggers more oxygen production in the blood.
YouTube / Test Comparisons
11. Digestion: If you suffer from digestion issues, adding a post-dinner cup of peppermint tea can work wonders. Peppermint relaxes the esophageal sphincter, which allows for easy passage for food to the stomach. Just beware, it does trigger acid reflux.
Fox News / Jodi Jacobson
12. Bee Stings: The next time a bee gets the best of you, head to the pantry. One part meat tenderizer, also known as papain, combined with four parts water effectively eliminates discomfort when applied quickly.
Satin City Productions / Malcolm In The Middle
13. Hair Growth: A healthy scalp is important, particularly if you’re prone to baldness. There’s no need to drop a fortune on specialized treatments. Essential oils like rosemary, cedarwood, lavender, and thyme increase blood circulation and stimulate follicles.
Adede Lifestyle Blog
14. Muscle Aches: A body built by cheese isn’t as laughable as you think. Post-workout, many athletes eat a serving of cottage cheese. It’s a great source of protein and combats soreness before it settles in.
Flickr / jules:stonesoup
15. Toe Fungus: People prone to athlete’s foot should try a foot bath of Listerine mouth wash. It’s effective against mild cases of toenail fungus and makes it easier to scrub off dead skin. Plus, your feet will smell like they just left the dentist. A win-win!
Facebook / We Love Mrs Hinch
16. Lethargy: Never reach for an acidic energy drink again because peppermint and cinnamon literally put that pep back in your step. Whether sniffing the essential oil version or chewing on flavored gum, it gives the alertness you need to tackle a long drive.
17. Dandruff: Jamie Lee Curtis taught us how yogurt helps your tummy. Little did you know it also does the body good when spread all over your head. A yogurt scalp treatment is great for people with the tricky combination of both oily hair and a dry scalp.
Natural Sisters Blog
18. Body Odor: People are done with popular deodorants that include potentially harmful chemical ingredients including heavy metals. All it takes to freshen the stinkiest pits is baking soda. You can apply it dry, or as paste mixed with water.
Mother’s Niche Blog
19. Itching: This works for poison oak, ivy, and even pesky mosquito bites. Wash the area with soap to remove the invisible resin from the plant. Then, rub the infected area with the inner side of a banana peel. It relieves the itching almost instantly.
Spoon University / Camille Balhorn
It’s comforting to know that the contents of your kitchen can help you through a minor health issue, but there are also ways to train your body through nutrition to stop problems before they start. There’s a handy list of superfoods that are worth integrating into your diet.
1. Turmeric: This bright colored spice has been used as a medicinal and nutritional spice for centuries in other corners of the globe because it contains a compound called curcumin, which helps stop your heart from getting enlarged.
2. Seaweed: Don’t eat it straight out of the ocean or off your dog’s head, but do enjoy some properly prepared seaweed. It’s a rich source of iodine and can help prevent your blood from clotting and your arteries from hardening.
3. Carrots: Snowmen love them, and so should you. Carrots are filled with vitamins A, K, and C and their own antioxidant called carotenoids. Carrots prevent heart disease and also improve your vision! Best of all, you can also just snack on them raw. Yum!
4. Beets: These have a unique ability to lower the levels of homocysteine in your blood, which can help reduce the risk of heart disease and strengthen your organs. They taste great with a little goat cheese!
5. Pomegranates: This fruit may look a little funny on the inside, and eating them takes some getting used to, but they’re bursting with vitamins and antioxidants that help prevent strokes, diabetes, and even Alzheimers!
6. Coffee: When you skip the double shot decaf pumpkin spice frappe-cappu with extra whipped cream, coffee is pretty healthy for you — in moderation. It can reduce your chances of heart failure and heart disease. Too much of it, though, can raise your blood pressure.
7. Broccoli: Yes, most of us hated having to eat broccoli when we were young, but it’s actually very beneficial to your health! It can reduce cholesterol, and it contains sulforaphane, which balances your blood sugar levels.
8. Chocolate: Believe it or not, chocolate is good for you, but it all depends on how you consume it! The darker the chocolate, the better, because milk and sugar — which you’ll find plenty of in lighter chocolates — aren’t great for your body.
9. Red wine: Surprise, surprise! This type of alcohol isn’t all bad for you! Red vino can reduce built-up cholesterol and keep your blood vessels flexible, which will reduce blood clots. However, the limit is one glass a day.
10. Lentils: These little beans are a wonderful option for vegetarians and gluten-free folks alike. They’re packed with protein but are low in calories, plus they taste great in salads and lentil soup!
11. Chia seeds: While they used to be sold as the fur for pet-shaped planters, nutritionists have since found a better use for chia seeds: juices, bowls, salads, you name it! They are an incredible source of fiber, antioxidants, omega-3s, and protein.
12. Grapefruit: You either love or hate this bitter fruit, but it’s definitely good for you. Grapefruits are loaded with fiber and potassium, as well as heart-happy things like lycopene and choline. Plus when you’re done eating, you can use the peel to make a helmet for your cat.
13. Asparagus: Eat some asparagus for vitamins A, C, E, and K, and many other minerals to promote regular digestion and decrease your risk of diabetes.
14. Almonds: Like all other nuts, almonds contain protein, but on top of that, they also contain a long list of nutrients that improve memory and intelligence and reduce your risk of diabetes. If you combine these with some very dark chocolate, you’ll have a party in your mouth and get double health benefits.
15. Garlic: Get ready to stink! Garlic is not only flavorful but it also helps lower plaque levels in your arteries to keep them from getting clogged. There are even garlic supplements you can buy. We should warn you though, this is not for vampires.
16. Blueberries: They’re a fun size, and they taste great in almost every sweet dish, but what most people don’t know is that blueberries lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of cancer.
17. Quinoa: It’s alright if you don’t know how to pronounce it, just make sure to eat some once in a while! It has more than twice as much fiber as you’ll find in other grains, and it also contains protein, minerals, and essential amino acids. Just swap it in for rice and pasta, and you’ll be doing yourself a favor.
18. Avocados: There’s a good reason why people love ’em so much. Avocados add a nice, smooth, cool texture to rough foods like toast, salads, rice dishes, tacos, and of course as guac on some chips. They are filled with monounsaturated fats, a good kind of fat that helps hearts grow even stronger.
19. Oranges: Of course they’re juicy, sweet, and refreshing, but oranges are so much more. They contain a fiber that absorbs cholesterol as well as potassium, which neutralizes proteins that could potentially cause heart failure.
20. Cranberries: The main problem with cranberries is that they are very rare, so most foods and drinks that claim to contain cranberries are actually just cranberry flavored. However, when you find the real stuff, you can enjoy their antioxidants.
21. Chickpeas: These can be eaten raw, boiled, pan-fried, mashed, and turned into some delicious hummus dip. They contain fiber, potassium, and vitamins C and B-6, and some protein. They’re incredibly healthy AND versatile!
22. Green tea: What’s the tea? Much like broccoli, green tea can lower your cholesterol, and its antioxidants cleanse your body of unwanted chemicals. With a little honey mixed in, it can also be great on a sore throat.
23. Apples: Unless your evil stepmother witch queen has poisoned them, you should totally eat more apples! Like green tea, there are plenty of flavors to choose from, all loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and a little caffeine. Don’t you want to keep that doctor away?
24. Oats: Get your spoon out and prepare to eat some oatmeal! It’s a filling, energizing breakfast full of fiber. Try to steer clear of those super sugary oatmeals, though, and add different fruits — or even just a touch of honey — instead.
25. Kale: Surely you’ve heard all the rage about kale, as it can be found in nearly every salad, smoothie, and pasta or rice dishes nowadays — and for good reason: it’s loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and (the good) omega-3 fatty acids. It’s a solid leafy green that helps prevent heart disease, so go ahead and jump on the kale train.
26. Eggplant: The only time some people consume eggplant is in an eggplant parm, and we’re sorry to say loads of cheese, bread crust, and marinara sauce in that won’t save you — but other eggplant dishes will. Enjoy the vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids (metabolites that help cell-signaling pathways and antioxidant effects).
27. Salmon: Don’t go crazy with eating fish, since you could get mercury poisoning or high cholesterol, but a balanced amount of fish, especially salmon, is excellent for your health. It’s packed with good omega-3 fatty acids, which can fight off blood clots, heart disease, and even dementia.
28. Chicken: You don’t NEED this in your diet, so don’t worry if you’re vegetarian, but for meat-eaters, chicken is one of the healthiest ways to go. It’s a lean protein that matches well with almost every dish, so it’s easy to eat.
29. Olive oil: Remember that some oils and fats are good for you! Extra-virgin is a healthier alternative to cooking with butter or animal fat, and it will help balance your blood sugar and reduce harmful cholesterol.
Alex / Flickr
30. Spinach: Popeye had it absolutely right — spinach is good for you and can make you strong since it’s packed with iron and vitamin K. You still need to exercise to be strong and healthy, but spinach will give you stronger bones, fewer blood clots, and lower the risk of heart disease.