Try these easy-to-follow speedy natural remedies for a host of minor ailments – and feel great! Be sure to keep this guide handy!
HayMax anti-allergy balm (£6.99 from Boots) is a natural beeswax that’s applied around the rim of the nostrils to prevent pollen, dander and dust mites from entering the body.
Eaten something too hot? Pop an ice cube in your mouth to soothe and alleviate the damage. Then dab the affected area with a cooled, wet, black tea bag. The tannin released has a pain-relieving effect (and helps heal cold sores too).
Trials show home remedies are more effective than over-the-counter cough medicines. Simply squeeze half a lemon into a mug of boiled water and add one or two teaspoons of honey.
Grate an unpeeled apple and leave for 15-20 minutes before eating. Letting it turn brown releases compounds – pectin to firm the stool and reduce inflammation, plus malic and tantaric acids which regulate stomach acidity.
“Take an oatmeal bath,” says Dr Paul Griffiths, dermatologist at The Blemish Clinic. “Fill a piece of muslin with several tablespoons of oats and then let the water run through it while filling your bath. The oats contain anti-inflammatory compounds which have an antipruritic (itch) effect.”
“Bicarbonate of soda relieves the itching of athlete’s foot,” explains podiatrist Emma Supple (supplefeet.com). “Add a tablespoonful to warm water and soak feet – or make a paste for the affected area. Rinse and dry thoroughly.”
If you get an upset stomach, give the digestive system a complete rest and drink sips of water to stay hydrated. If vomiting is severe or you’re in a hot environment, take rehydration sachets to prevent dehydration.
In trials, Sprite carbonated drink helped speed up recovery. The sugar provides an instant pick-me-up while rehydrating and the lemon and lime juice content is alkaline so helps balance the acid in your gut, quelling feelings of nausea. Fizzy water with a squeeze of fresh lemon is a simple alternative.
Antacids, like Rennie, Setlers or Bisodyl, contain either aluminium or magnesium to neutralise stomach acids. Healthspan GastriSoothe liquid (£12.95 – healthspan.co.uk) containing Aloe Vera is a natural alternative and also neutralises acid, soothes pain and reduces reflux.
Switch to your destination time zone on the flight. And, because circadian rhythms can be shifted by bright light, get outside into sunlight rather than sleeping to help adjust to the new time pattern.
If pain is acute rather than chronic – or you’ve injured your knee – apply ice (wrapped in a tea towel) or a cold compress for about 20 minutes every two or three hours to reduce inflammation quickly.
Stretch the affected muscle to counteract the cramp. For cramp in the calf muscle, straighten your leg and flex your foot, or stand on a step or stair with your heels hanging off the edge. Or lean forward against a wall and stretch the affected leg back with the foot flat on the floor.
“Aspirin or ibuprofen usually work better than paracetamol or codeine – but act quickly,” advises Professor Anne Macgregor. “Taking medication with a sweet, fizzy drink, like regular cola, can help absorption – and also boosts blood sugar levels which can aid recovery.”
Lean forwards (not back), breathe through your mouth and pinch the soft part of the nose, above the nostrils, until the bleeding stops. This is more effective than inserting tissue into the nose.
Otitis Externa (swimmers ear)
Use a hairdryer to help draw moisture out of the ear. Put it on the lowest setting, hold it about 30cm AWAY from your ear and move it back and forth while tilting head.
Otherwise known as conjunctivitis, this eye inflammation is caused by a bacterial or viral infection. Soak cotton wool balls in cooled, boiled water and gently wipe any crusts from your eyes. And hold a clean, cold flannel to your eyes to soothe any burning or itching.
“Sea sickness bands can be helpful,” says acupuncturist Steve Kippax. “They work by pressing on an acupuncture point called Nei guan (Pericardium 6), which can ease nausea and sickness.”
Refresh dry eyes
Gently pinch your lower lid, and then blink a few times. The glands in the lower lid contain oils for moisturising our eyes so this will encourage the release of these lubricants, while blinking will spread them over the eyeball, bringing instant relief.
“Sit on a detergent ball or potato (or stand against a wall) placing it strategically against the affected area,” advises physiotherapist Sammy Margo. “By pressing into the muscle, the ball acts as a fulcrum, providing a pivot over which the muscles stretch. This ‘digging in’ relieves the muscular tension.”
Grip a pencil between your teeth. According to aesthetic specialist Dr Jane Leonar, the key is to simply hold the pencil in your mouth and not bite down on it. Doing this apparently helps the muscles in the jaw to relax and stop sending spasms of stress and tension that cause pain in the head.
Adding a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda to a glass of water makes urine less acidic, which stops bacteria spreading and can halt that painful burning sensation when you pee. A hot water bottle or heat compress can help to soothe any abdominal pain.
Verrucas (and warts)
Studies show that duct tape is effective. Cover the wart or verruca with a small piece of tape for six days. Remove, soak the wart or verruca and file dead skin with a pumice stone. Leave it uncovered overnight and repeat the cycle until the verruca disappears.
Don’t leave it uncovered to “air”. Covered wounds heal more quickly and there’s a reduced risk of infection. Elastoplast Wound Healing Ointment (£2.65 – Boots) creates a breathable film that protects the wound, prevents it from drying out, promotes faster healing and reduces the risk of scarring.
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“Live natural yogurt is a medically-proven remedy for soothing the burning itch of vaginal thrush. That’s because it contains the alkaline bacteria lactobacillus, which helps counteract the acidic Candida fungus,” explains Dr Thomas Gray of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.
“Don’t count sheep as your mind can wander,” says sleep expert Professor Jason Ellis. “Count backwards from one thousand in sevens. It doesn’t matter if you get the numbers wrong or lose your place – just as long as you concentrate.”