An oatmeal bath can alleviate the symptoms of eczema With Christmas upon us and GP surgeries and pharmacies shut for the holiday season, we explore homemade health hacks that can treat minor ailments… Hot water and honey for a tickly cough
Trials show it’s more effective than over-the-counter cough remedies, so Public Health England (PHE) recommends the use of honey for coughs and colds before visiting your GP.
Simply squeeze half a lemon into a mug of boiled water and add one or two teaspoons of honey. There is no evidence that adding whisky helps! Apple cider vinegar for spots
This is a super ingredient that can be used for a variety of different ailments.
“Its natural antibacterial properties and organic acids are a proven method to tackling acne and it also reduces inflammation,” says Abbas Kanani, pharmacist at Chemist Click.
Mix one part apple cider vinegar with three parts water and apply directly to the affected area with a clean cotton pad. Vinegar for bruises
“Bruises occur when blood vessels break and blood leaks under the skin,” explains Dr Rob Hicks, GP and author of Old-Fashioned Remedies From Arsenic To Gin (£14.99, Remember When).
“Vinegar increases blood flow near the surface of the skin, which then helps to disperse the blood clots in the bruised area.”
Soak a dressing in vinegar and apply it to the bruise for 10 to 20 minutes. Frozen vegetables for a sprain
“It isn’t very hi-tech but frozen vegetables wrapped in a tea towel for a sprain
still stands today,” says Alan Weir, Head of Clinical Operations at St John Ambulance.
Frozen peas are perfect as they can be moulded around the affected area. The world is full of natural remedies to treat common complaints (Image: Getty Images/EyeEm Premium) Turmeric for sore throats
“Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which can be useful for treating sore throats and mouth ulcers,” says Abbas.
Mix a tablespoon of turmeric and a pinch of salt in warm water and gargle a few times a day. Oats for eczema
An oatmeal bath can really help if you suffer from eczema or dry itchy skin, says Dr Paul Griffiths, dermatologist at the Blemish Clinic.
“Fill a piece of muslin or cheesecloth with several tablespoons of oats and then let the water run through this as you fill the bath. The oats contain anti-inflammatory compounds which also have an anti-itch effect.” Cucumber for bad breath
“Take a slice of cucumber and press it to the roof of your mouth for about 30 seconds,” says Dr Mervyn Druian from londoncosmeticdentistry.co.uk.
“Natural phytochemicals will kill the bacteria in your mouth that cause halitosis.” Chemicals in cucumber can cure halitosis (Image: Getty Images) A cold used teabag for mouth ulcers
“The cooling sensation can help relieve the discomfort,” says Dr Hicks. “But Earl Grey tea contains bergamot oil, which may help healing too.” Bicarbonate of soda for athlete’s foot
Bicarb is great for relieving the itching and burning of athlete’s foot, says podiatrist Emma Supple.
Add a tablespoon to a bowl of warm water and soak feet, or add enough water to a tablespoon of bicarb to make a paste for the affected area. A teabag can be used to help with the discomfort of mouth ulcers (Image: Getty Images) Detergent balls for sciatica
Detergent balls like the plastic spiky kind used for tumble dryers are great for massaging tight buttock muscles and relieving the muscular pain of sciatica, explains chartered physiotherapist Sammy Margo.
“Either sit on one or stand against a wall and place it strategically against the affected area. Repeat several times a day.” Mustard for a head cold
Soak your feet in a mustard footbath to relieve a head cold, says podiatrist Mike O’Neill. “Add a tablespoon of mustard powder to a litre of hot water in a large bowl. The mustard helps ease pressure on the blood vessels in the head.”
Mint tea for an upset stomach
Menthol is an antispasmodic which can calm the wall of the gut and prevent the cramps and trapped air that can occur when your tummy is upset. Clingfilm to help treat a burn
“Clingfilm or even a clean plastic bag can be used in an emergency to cover a burn or scald to relieve the pain and keep it from becoming infected while you are awaiting further treatment,” explains Alan.
“First, run cold water over the affected area for at least 10 minutes to cool, then put clingfilm lengthways over the burn. Don’t wrap it because this might restrict circulation as the tissue is likely to swell.” Milk for a tooth that’s been knocked out
If an adult tooth is knocked out it should be replanted in its socket as soon as possible, says Alan.
“To keep it protected and stop it from drying out, ideally, keep the tooth inside the cheek until you get to hospital or a dentist – or place the tooth in a small container of milk.” Toilet of the future
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