Monday, November 19, 2012

20 Instant At-Home Health Fixes

Instant Solutions

by Dr. David Williams
Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 10/28/2012

Learn about quick fixes for conditions ranging from burns to taking pills

Burn ReliefMotion Sickness
Chest PainRunny Nose
Cold/FluPet Poisoning
CoughsPoison Ivy
DandruffSafe Sun Exposure
HangoversStiff Neck
IndigestionSwallowing Pills

Burn Relief

Pediatric doctors in Banjul, Gambia, have found that papaya pulp makes an excellent burn dressing. The doctors mash the pulp of the papaya and apply it directly to burns. Children tolerate it well and it has proven to be very effective at sloughing off dead tissue, preventing infections and providing a clean wound.
Papaya pulp contains the proteolytic enzymes papain and chymopapain which have been used for centuries to remove warts and other skin imperfections. Apparently, the pulp also has components that exhibit antimicrobial activity since the doctors in Gambia are also applying the pulp to infected wounds with successful results.

Chest Pain

Studies in the Orient have shown that Kudzu (Pueraria lobota) has the ability to relax and sooth muscles such as those located in the major blood vessels. Taking roughly 3 to 10 grams of the dried root has been effective in the treatment of angina pectoris (the severe chest pain caused by a sudden decrease in blood supply to the heart muscle).


If you're under the weather, always soak your toothbrush in hydrogen peroxide before using it. It doesn't do much good to knock out the "BUGS" and then turn around and reintroduce them into your system with a contaminated toothbrush.
Specifically for sore throats: Fresh ginger root. Whenever you feel a sore throat coming on, start sucking on on a slice of fresh ginger root. It will help soothe the throat and get rid of scratchiness and irritation.


  • Ice cubes. An easy way to stop coughing without the use of cough syrups or medication is to keep some ice cubes in your mouth. The cold numbs the nerves in the throat. If you want to re-mineralize your body at the same time, or make the technique more acceptable to children, consider freezing one of the sports drinks into ice cubes.
  • Onion cough syrup. Place three large chopped white onions in a double boiler along with 1/4 cup of honey. Cook slowly for a couple of hours, strain off the liquid and dispose of the onions. The liquid can be taken as often as needed.


I'm a big fan of turmeric and all the health benefits it provides. Turmeric has been shown to have remarkable anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. It's also an effective remedy for cuts.


  • Baking soda. When taking a shower, wet your hair and using baking soda instead of shampoo.
  • Selenium. Selenium can reduce the incidence of dandruff, psoriasis and eczema. Certain companies have already taken advantage of selenium's Back to Topical healing powers. For example, the selenium-containing shampoo Selsun Blue has been effective in helping to eliminate dandruff for many people.


In children. Here's an easy way of remembering what to give children with diarrhea (it's a good thing to remember for grown-ups, too): the word BRAT. The letter B stands for bananas; R stands for rice; A stands for applesauce; and T stands for toast.
Bananas are rich in potassium. Rice adds bulk and helps slow the intestinal tract. Applesauce has pectin, which is good for calming the bowels, and toast adds additional bulk. Diarrhea in small children can quickly become a serious situation because of rapid mineral loss. If the problem persists, be sure to ask your doctor to help monitor the situation.
As a result of antibiotic use. If the diarrhea is a result of medications, such as antibiotics that wipe out the natural bacterial flora, I've obtained excellent results using a product called Lactic Acid Yeast wafers. This product restores the natural bacteria in the lower bowel. Usually, chewing two wafers with each meal will do the trick within a day. (For small children, one-half to one wafer can be crushed and put into their food or drink to accomplish the same thing.)


  • Evening primrose. This oil contains gamma linoleic acid (GLA) which your body eventually converts to prostaglandins (PG1, the good kind), which can help prevent liver damage and even hangovers from alcohol. Alcohol (and aspirin), by the way, block the formation of PG1. Oil of evening primrose is sold under a variety of labels in health food stores. The brand Efamol is probably your best choice. Almost all clinical studies proving this oil's effectiveness have used this type.
  • L-cysteine. This amino acid can also be used to prevent or often greatly reduce "hangovers" from alcohol poisoning. It helps neutralize toxins in the liver by increasing glutathione levels, which is one of the body's most powerful detoxifying compounds.
Hangover remedies such as these may occasionally come in handy, but as you know, they only treat a symptom. Avoiding overindulgence in the first place is the most effective cure for hangovers.


Over the years, my newsletter readers have contributed a variety of remedies for hiccups. These annoying spasms of the diaphragm (the large, flat muscle dividing your chest from your stomach) can occur when you overeat, drink carbonated beverages, or have an illness that irritates the phrenic nerve in the diaphragm.
Although hiccups usually last less than an hour, they can persist for hours or even days. Regardless of their duration, no matter how long you have to put up with them is too long. Try these solutions the next time your throat decides to backfire.
  • Put your hiccups on ice. A Texas reader recommends holding something cold (ice cubes, a couple cold cans of beer or soda, etc.) on both sides of your Adam's apple on your throat. Do this for about a minute and the hiccups will stop completely.
  • Press on your ear canals. You've probably heard that drinking a glass of water helps get rid of hiccups, but Cindy C. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin suggests this extra step. While drinking a glass of water, get someone to close your ear canals by pressing inward on each of the small skin flaps just in front of the ear canal. Pressure should be continued on these flaps for at least 10 seconds after the entire glass of water has been drunk.
  • Peanut butter. Another Texas reader says that taking one heaping teaspoon of peanut butter hasn't failed once in 16 years to cure a case of hiccups.


If you have recurring problems with indigestion, try herbal bitters. Bitters activate the bitter-taste receptors on the tongue, which, in turn, stimulate the secretion of digestive juices. Several herbs are considered bitter: dandelion root, wormwood, chamomile flowers, goldenseal, and gentian root.
Generally a couple of drops in a little water taken about 15 to 20 minutes before meals will help with indigestion. (Be aware that too large a dose may cause vomiting. This stuff really is bitter!).

Motion Sickness

If you have a problem with motion sickness or seasickness, be sure to bring along some ginger root and papaya tablets on your next trip. One gram of ginger root taken with a couple papaya tablets about 20 minutes before traveling can work wonders. If the trip is a long one, the same dosage may have to be repeated after several hours if the symptoms reappear.
Try one of these alternatives if you don't have ginger root and papaya tablets on hand:
  1. Drink 12 ounces of either ginger ale or 7-Up mixed with the juice of one lime and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
  2. Drink the juice of one coconut and two limes mixed together.
  3. If available, grind and eat the seeds of a papaya.

Runny Nose

In addition to taking extra vitamin C, echinacea and elderberry extract, you can shorten the duration of symptoms with a hot salt-water facial and quick nasal rinse. This works especially well when your nose seems to run like a faucet.
  1. In a clean sink or large saucer add 1/4 to 1/3 cup of salt to a quart of fairly hot water.
  2. Once the salt has dissolved, immerse your face in the water for five to ten seconds; repeat this three or four times. Allow the water to run into your nose, but keep your mouth and eyes closed.
  3. Follow the facial with a quick nasal rinse by adding a few drops of Citricidal (NutriBiotic's grapefruit seed extract) to 1/2 cup of warm water. Cup a small amount of the water in the palm of your hand, and then lean over and gently "inhale" the water into your nasal passages.
Do this two or three times before bed and first thing in the morning. You may momentarily feel a very slight tingling or burning sensation as the Citricidal coats the nasal and sinus passages.

Pet Poisoning

If your pet accidentally eats rat poison, here are a couple remedies that may save help save the animal's life.
First, if at all possible, try to get your pet to vomit before the poison is absorbed into the system. You can do this by mixing a tablespoon or two of salt in a glass of water and forcing it down the animal's throat.
Then, take your pet to the vet and ask that it be given a Vitamin K shot. Most rat poisons work by eliminating the animal's ability to stop bleeding. After ingesting the anticoagulants and consuming water, the animal bleeds to death internally. Vitamin K reverses the anticoagulating effect and allows the blood to clot.
If you're not able to get to the vet for Vitamin K shots, keeping a can of sauerkraut on hand will provide a ready source of emergency Vitamin K. It may be tough to get your dog or cat to eat it, but what could happen if you don't try might be a lot tougher to swallow.

Poison Ivy

The following suggestions may help you shorten the duration of poison ivy:
  • Vitamin C paste applied directly to the skin. Mix vitamin C powder with water to form a paste that can be applied to sites where the skin has been exposed to poison ivy or poison oak, and the problem will completely resolve within 24 hours. Thanks to Dr. Karen Davis for contributing this Health Hint. Dr. Davis also suggests that you take 2 grams of vitamin C orally for a few days following the episode. The vitamin C helps to strengthen your immune system against the poisonous sap (urushiol) in poison ivy.
  • Lavender or camphor oil. These essential oils can help stop the itching and pain and speed healing. Look specifically for "White Flower Oil," as some oils can exacerbate the problem. It can be found in larger health food stores and practically all Chinese medicine shops. (In Chinese it's called Pak Fah Yeow.) White Flower Oil is a blend of the natural oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, wintergreen, and camphor. Apply a couple of drops and rub it gently into the skin lesions. The oils have a drying effect, so as soon as the lesions have stopped oozing you can stop using the White Flower Oil and instead apply your favorite moisturizing lotion.

Posture (Dowager's Hump)

Anyone who sits and works with their arms out in front of them will have stiffness and problems between the shoulders. Secretaries, accountants, bookkeepers, computer operators, mechanics and so on are especially prone to these problems. When the shoulders begin to slump, the muscles on the front chest wall begin to shorten and the small muscles between the shoulder blades weaken. This will cause a constant tiring pain and stiffness in that area and eventually lead to dowager's hump.
There are two easy exercises that will help strengthen the shoulders and prevent the hump. Both can be done in about five minutes, and the best time to do them is first thing in the morning and right before bedtime; however, any time during the day that you feel stiffness, you can easily do them to get relief.

Exercise #1

  1. While standing, raise the elbows to shoulder level with the arms bent and touch the thumbs to the chest.
  2. Now, while you keep the elbows level with the floor, push the elbows back as far as possible (slowly, no jerking motions). Hold the elbows back and count to five
  3. Now return the elbows to the starting position and straighten the arms out to the sides. While keeping them level with the floor, push the hands back as far as possible and hold them back to the count of five.
Start with five repetitions twice a day and gradually work up to 20 to 25 repetitions at least twice a day.

Exercise #2

With this exercise you need to find an empty corner in the house.
  1. Stand about two feet out from the corner with your nose pointing directly into the corner.
  2. Now place your hands, with your palms flat, against the wall on each side of you (it is very important to always have the fingers pointing toward the corner!).
  3. Keep your body as straight as you can (like a board), and slowly lean into the corner.
  4. As you lean toward the corner, you should feel a definite stretch and burning between the shoulders as well as some stretching in the front part of the chest.
  5. Hold yourself in this stretching position for a count of five, then return to the starting position and count to five before starting another repetition. Start with five repetitions twice a day and work up to about 20 repetitions twice a day.

Safe Sun Exposure

Sunlight is necessary for life. It stimulates the immune system and aids the production of vitamin D. Studies show that people with high vitamin D intake have high bone density levels. Enjoy it, but do so in moderation. Don't bake your skin, let it dry out or burn.
Eating lots of fruits and vegetables is a delicious way to minimize this effect because a diet rich in antioxidants has been shown to have protective effects against skin damage. Taking a good supplement program including Vitamin E, C, and trace minerals such as selenium is also recommended.


Along with good nutrition, regular exercise, getting plenty of clean water and fresh air, sound, restful sleep is a basic requirement for overall good health. As the demands of modern life contribute to increasing levels of stress, going to sleep isn't always as easy as closing your eyes anymore. If you're tired of counting sheep and not getting the proper amount of sleep you need each night, try these simple steps.
  1. Arrange your sleeping quarters so that you have as close to complete darkness as possible. Some studies have shown that body temperature and melatonin levels were altered when light was shined on the back of the knee. This seemingly inconsequential light exposure had the very same effect as shining the light directly in the eye.
  2. After you've made your sleeping area as dark as possible, there should be a rule in the house that nobody turns on a light in the room while someone is sleeping. Even though it might not wake the sleeping person, it shuts down their production of melatonin.
  3. If you have to go to the bathroom during the night, it would be best not to turn on the light. Turning on the light even for just a second shuts down melatonin production and can contribute to fatigue, insomnia, and all of the other problems.
  4. If you have trouble falling asleep, you might want to try a hot bath just before bedtime. About an hour before we feel the need to sleep, our body temperature begins to drop about 1 degree. This is one of the key signals from the brain to slow down and start the sleep process. By taking a hot bath, your body will naturally start to lower its core temperature in an effort to cool itself off. This temperature drop will start the same physiological processes that naturally brings on the desire for sleep.
  5. If a hot bath still isn't enough to promote sleep, then the best suggestion I have for you is to start a regular exercise program. Study after study has shown that regular exercise enhances sleep in almost everyone with sleep disturbances. Something as simple as regular walking can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep—not to mention the dozens of other positive changes it will bring about.
  6. Finally, as soon as you wake up in the morning, either turn on the lights or open the blinds and let the sunlight in. Opening the window is preferred, as it imprints on the brain the many sights, sounds and smells associated with awakening. This is the proper way to reset your body clock, and will ensure that your melatonin levels will stay set on "awake" until that evening.

Stiff Neck

There are several causes of stiff necks, including everything from a misaligned vertebra to muscle strain. The following three exercises, if done regularly, will strengthen and help relax your neck muscles. The exercises can also help maintain the normal range of motion in your neck.
Do each three or four times slowly and deliberately, relaxing as you do them, twice a day. (If you have circulatory, bone, muscle or neck problems, check with your doctor first.)
  • Around the clock. Start this exercise by first tilting the head forward, and slowly stretch the muscles of the back of the neck. Relax and then tilt the head back and slowly stretch the muscles at the front of the neck. Now, by tilting the head slowly to either side, all of the muscles of the neck have been stretched. Don't rotate the head in a circular motion. Also be sure to keep looking straight ahead when tilting the head to one side or the other (sometimes it is easier to watch yourself in front of a mirror until you are sure you are doing it right).
  • The shrug. Draw your shoulders up toward your ears slowly. Breathe deeply and return to the original position. Relax and repeat. A slight variation of this exercise would be to slowly rotate your shoulders forward and backward.
  • The trapezius stretch. While standing with a straight back, lock your hands behind your head. Slowly bring your elbows together in front of your face. Reverse the exercise by again locking your hands behind your head and slowly pulling your elbows back. Then repeat.
Towel tip: One additional tip that helps relieve neck stiffness from muscle tension is to roll up a small hand towel firmly until it's about four to five inches in diameter. While lying on your back, place the towel directly under the neck. If the towel is placed right, it should increase the natural curve of the neck and the neck will be tilted slightly backward. Getting in this position and relaxing for a few minutes will not only relax the neck, but many times it will stop those tension headaches that seem to start in that area.


  • Potato poultice. This is an old but highly effective remedy for styes, bloodshot eyes, a “gritty feeling” in the eyes, or eye irritation from strain or too much sun. To make a potato pack or poultice, select white potatoes that are free of sprays or chemicals and grate the potato whole (peels and pulp). Place a large spoonful directly on the eyelid, covering the whole eye. This can then be covered with a small towel or wash cloth. The potato poultice should be left in place for at least 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Vitamin A. Another solution involves vitamin A. Put one or two drops of a high-quality vitamin A solution directly into the affected eye. (The contents of a vitamin A capsule can also be used.) This works especially well when used right before bedtime.
Complete relief will come only after the stye had drained completely. To speed up this process, you can apply a warm compress for 20 minutes once or twice a day. The most effective compress is a freshly hard-boiled egg wrapped in a damp washcloth. The egg will retain its heat for the 20 minutes needed, and when you’re finished with the compress you can peel the egg and eat it for a healthy snack.
Poultices of a variety of substances have been used for many years with great success; however, lately they have been used less and discounted as folk remedies with no merit. Nothing could be further from the truth. Poultices or packs may not be considered “high tech,” but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see just how much good you can do with some of the “low tech” items straight from your pantry!

Swallowing Pills

Often a good multivitamin program requires that you take a number of capsules and pills throughout the day. For some people, though, swallowing pills can be a real problem that makes such programs difficult to follow.
There are many easy methods you can try if swallowing pills poses a problem for you:
  • Tilt your head. Swallowing capsules can sometimes be difficult since they have a tendency to float. Most of us tilt our heads back when trying to swallow one, but this allows it to "float" to the top, which is at the front of your mouth. This makes the capsule even more difficult to get down your throat. Next time, after placing a capsule in your mouth and taking a small sip of water, try tilting your head slightly forward and then swallow.
  • Eat a banana. For those pesky pills that get caught in your throat, eat a banana. Bananas have just the right mushy, smooth consistency to dislodge and carry it into the stomach.
  • Trick your gag reflex. Pill swallowing problems usually stem from an over-sensitive gag reflex, but there is one way to "fool" the reflex.Next time you take your vitamins, try drinking the water you wash them down with from a soda bottle. Keeping your lips in contact with the bottle, use a sucking action to drink from the bottle. The swallowing reflex is triggered automatically by pursing the lips and sucking. Distilled water works fine, but carbonated water works even better.
By the way, this is a good way to get children to swallow pills also.

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