Hot Flash: Home Remedies – Do They Work or Hurt?

A cup of green tea can go a long way for treating some common ailments. Photo: Getty Images.

Ever wonder if those home remedies that your mother or friends have advised you to do really work? Some do, some don’t. I conducted some research via Web MD to find out the truth on several common home “cures.” Read on!

Peppermint

Mint has been used for hundreds of years as a health remedy. Peppermint oil might help with irritable bowel syndrome — a long-term condition that can cause cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea and constipation — and it may be good for headaches as well. So it’s good for a pain in the head, and a pain in the ass. Awesome.

Honey

This natural sweetener may work just as well for a cough as over-the-counter medicines. That could be especially helpful for children who aren’t old enough to take those. I’ve used it for years as a way to get rid of heartburn. Works like a charm. It’s great with tea as well. Just gotta make sure the bees survive.

Turmeric

This spice has been hyped as being able to help with inflammation, but the research isn’t there yet. Some small studies have shown that it may help with arthritis knee pain and skin rashes that happen after radiation treatment for cancer, though. If you try it, don’t overdo it: High doses can cause digestive problems. Knee pain and skin rash cures trump digestive problems in my book. (Not that Trump.)

Ginger

It’s been used for thousands of years in Asian medicine to treat stomach aches, diarrhea, and nausea, and studies do show that it works for nausea and vomiting. But it’s not necessarily good for everyone. Some people get tummy trouble, heartburn, diarrhea and gas because of it. What?! Some people get rid of stomach problems and others get them? Hmmm. The people that did the study should go back to the drawing board.

Sex

It turns out that sex can help ease pain when you have certain kinds of headaches — especially migraines. It’s also been shown to improve heart health, ease stress and boost mental alertness. Who knew? No more “Not tonight dear.” At my age, I’ll take all I can get. (Just kidding.)

Green Tea

This comforting drink does more than keep you awake and alert. It’s a great source of some powerful antioxidants that can protect your cells from damage and help you fight disease. It may even lower your odds of heart disease and certain kinds of cancers, like skin, breast, lung and colon. This is great news. The problem for me is that any kind of tea I drink I get nausea, a stomach ache and a headache. I will try and drink it more often. Fighting disease trumps a stomach ache any day. (Not that Trump.)

Chicken Soup

Turns out, Grandma was right: Chicken soup can be good for a cold. Studies show it can ease symptoms and help you get rid of it sooner. It also curbs swelling and clears out nasal fluids. I called my mother-in-law one winter day to get the secret family recipe for her chicken soup. Sadly, she had a heart attack about an hour later after she gave it to me, and died soon after. I’m grateful that I was able to get that recipe before she died. Miss you mom!

Cinnamon

You may have heard that it can help control blood sugar for people who have pre-diabetes or diabetes. But there’s no evidence that it does anything for any medical condition. If you plan to use it, be careful: cinnamon extracts can be bad for your liver in large doses. I wonder what a large dose is? When I use it, I sprinkle it in my coffee, tea or oatmeal. Not very large at all.

Hot Bath

It’s good for all kinds of things that affect your muscles, bones, and tendons, like arthritis, back pain and joint pain. And warm water can help get blood flow to areas that need it, so gently stretch and work those areas while you’re in the bath. The ideal water temperature is between 92 and 100 F. I will take a bath tonight, now knowing that I am healing myself. I don’t take them enough.

Petroleum Jelly

This is used for any number of things: It can help your skin keep its moisture and prevent chafing — on the inside of your thighs when you run, for example. It also can help protect your baby’s skin from diaper rash. It’s also a great lubricator if your ring gets stuck on your finger. The gal who does my pedicures has me rub Vaseline on my feet, and put them in plastic bags when I sleep to keep them deeply moisturized. Sexy!

No matter what you’ve heard, talk with your doctor or pharmacist before trying any home remedy. This is even more important if you take prescription or over-the-counter medications, because some can affect how drugs work. And, keep in mind that many don’t have any research to back them up.

Gotta run! I’m off to take my bath…