13 homemade health remedies that really work

Old recipe books with herbs in a pestle and mortar

Homemade kitchen remedies have surged in popularity during national and local lockdowns - Credit: Pixabay

Homemade remedies for common illnesses have surged during the Covid-19 pandemic as people have looked to store-cupboard staples rather than over-the-counter remedies for relief.

As coronavirus cases climbed and people limited the number of trips they made outside, the number of people seeking cures closer to home for other illnesses rocketed almost overnight. But which store-cupboard cures actually work?

It goes without saying that if your symptoms are serious or if they worsen, it’s time to seek medical advice and if you are concerned about a home remedy’s potential reaction to prescription medicine, check with a chemist. Use common sense and always err on the side of caution.

13 home remedies that actually work

Purple lavender growing in a field

Lavender can help you if you are having problems sleeping - Credit: Pixabay

1) Lavender for a good night’s sleep Research has shown that smelling lavender decreases heart rate and blood pressure which help you to relax and in turn to sleep. In a 2014 study, it was shown that people who inhaled lavender essential oil before bed had brain waves that indicated their sleep was deeper. Try using oil in a diffuser.

Grains of sea salt on a blue background

Sea salt can be used in warm water to fight sore throats - Credit: Pixabay

2) Saltwater for a sore throat Gargling salt water is a seriously underrated hack for fighting inflammation. Salt in warm water used as a gargle can draw fluid from your mouth and throat tissues to relieve an infection and break up thick mucus which can remove irritants like allergens from the throat. Use half a teaspoon per cup of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds before spitting the water out. Repeat until the water is finished.

A piece of root ginger and two spoons filled with ginger powder

Dried and fresh ginger both of which can help fight nausea - Credit: Pixabay

3) Ginger for nausea If your stomach is complaining, ginger may be the answer. Ginger can help to alleviate nausea caused by morning sickness, motion sickness or chemotherapy. It works by blocking the actions of neurotransmitters acetylcholine and serotonin which trigger involuntary stomach contractions and the vomiting reflex. Supplements made from dried ginger may be more biologically effective and active than fresh ginger. Ginger can also help period pain – it can improve blood flow and reduce inflammation – try drinking warm ginger tea.

A prune and a dried apricot

Prunes can help you remedy constipation - Credit: Pixabay

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4) Prunes for constipation Sometimes even the tough just can’t get going. Prunes are rich in fibre which increases the bulk of your stool so it can move along on its happy journey. They also boast fructans and sorbitol, fermentable sugars that can have a laxative effect.

A handful of coats on top of a beige cloth

Oats can help relieve dry and itchy skin - Credit: Pixabay

5) Oatmeal bath for skin conditions Oatmeal baths have been used to help skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis for centuries and can also treat dry skin. When soaked in warm water, oatmeal forms a protective coating for the skin which traps in moisture. Grind up rolled oats (not instant!) and place in the toe of an old stocking, tie under the taps as the bath runs and soak in the water. Pat, rather than rub, yourself dry when you get out of the bath.

A small pile of granulated white sugar with grains falling on it

Sugar is an unusual cure for hiccups - Credit: Pixabay

6) Sugar for hiccups You can trick your body out of the diaphragm spasms which cause hiccups by putting a teaspoon of sugar under your tongue. The sweet sensation stimulates the vaus nerve, which begins in the brain stem and extends to the diaphragm, to help control the stomach. Keep the sugar under your tongue until the hiccups stop and then swallow.

A jar is overspilling with fennel seeds

Fennel seeds can help settle stomachs - Credit: Pixabay

7) Fennel for settled tummies It may be an acquired taste, but fennel contains compounds  that are said to help people who suffer from trapped wind. After dinner, or if you feel bloated, put two teaspoons of fennel seeds into water and drink.

Bulbs of garlic

Garlic is a natural anti-microbial - Credit: Pixabay

8) Garlic for colds As a natural anti-microbial, this pungent bulb not only repels vampires but can also help repel colds, or at the very least ease their symptoms. If you feel a cold coming on and you have the stomach for it, eat two cloves of raw garlic a day which is a proven infection-fighter. It’s also an effective social distancer…

A harvest of thyme

Thyme can help treat a non-serious cough - Credit: Pixabuy

9) Thyme tea for a cough Thyme helps to relax the respiratory tract and can loosen mucus. It’s a natural expectorant and offers an easy way to treat a non-serious cough. To make thyme tea, place two tablespoons of fresh (or one of dried) thyme in a cup of hot water, leave to steep for five minutes, drain and drink with honey to taste.

Multi-coloured pencils in a row

A pencil can help cure a tension headache - Credit: Pixabay

10) Pencils for tension headaches The most common headache that people suffer from, the band-like pressure across the forehead can come out of nowhere. The main causes of tension headaches are stress, anxiety, tiredness and emotional upset which often lead to spasms of the muscles of the face, neck, jaw and scalp. If you hold a pencil between your teeth gently and without biting it, it can help relax your jaw muscle and lessen your headache.

A picture of witch hazel growing in the wild

Witch Hazel, which has been used for centuries to treat inflammation - Credit: Pixabay

11) Witch hazel for inflammation It’s earned its name for a reason: the leaves and the bark of this plant can be used to reduce skin irritation, treat hemorrhoids and soothe cold sores (add to a cloth or cotton ball and apply directly). It can also help to treat razor burn.

Cucumber slices in a glass bowl and other ingredients

Cucumber is an easy remedy for eyestrain - Credit: Pixabay

12) Cucumbers for eyestrain We see images of people in towelling robes with slices of cucumber over their eyes all the time – but do they actually work? Apparently so. Cucumbers contain antioxidants that can decrease swelling and relieve pain. Replace slices every two to three minutes for a maximum of 15 minutes to feel results.

An oil bottle filled with yellow olive oil

Olive oil can be used for a host of home remedies including as a lip balm - Credit: Pixabay

13) Olive oil for dry skin and cracked lips You can either make a scrub by mixing with sea salt and gently rubbing over your skin or mix with sugar to make a simple lip scrub to slough off dead skin. Some people swear by running a little olive oil through their fingers and into the ends of their hair 15 minutes before shampooing and the easiest hack of all is to use olive oil as a simple lip balm.