There are a lot of things to love about household health remedies. Just a few of their perks include:
Accessibility (common household items; no doctor’s visit required!)
Efficacy (treat an issue early at home early to avoid a prescription later)
My favorite aspect though, is that household health remedies contain very few (or even just one!) ingredients. That’s very exciting for someone like me, a person who reacts (badly) to many, many things. For every dye, perfume, chemical, “caking” or “binding” agent removed, the more likely I can tolerate it.
Want to try a few? Below are some of my favorites, all of which I’ve used successfully for years and years.
Epsom Salt Bath: When particularly sore (the “I can feel every single stroke and kick” kind), I add 2 cups of Epsom salt to a hot bath and soak for 20-30 minutes.
DYI Eardrops: Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol or witch hazel and vinegar. I make my own eardrops and use them after every swim to help keep swimmer’s ear at bay. Due to allergies, I do everything I can to remain congestion-free in my ears, nose and throat.
Tea Tree Oil: Thanks to its antibacterial properties, tea tree oil is a true workhorse. I use it many ways, such as adding a drop or two to a nasal salt lavage* when fighting a cold, dabbing it on a skin irritation, and adding a drop or two to warm salt water to gargle away a sore throat. Don’t be daunted by the seemingly high price for a tiny bottle. With a drop-or-two-usage rate, that bottle will last a good half-year or more. Note: Direct application of essential oils** like tea tree oil can sting. While this doesn’t bother me, many find mixing an essential oil with a carrier oil*** (e.g. sesame, almond, avocado, etc.) before applying to be more comfortable.
Oil Olive: A terrific moisturizer. I live in an arid mountain climate (there’s also sun, wind, and cold to contend with), so adding daily chlorine exposure to that mix means everything is always dry. I apply a little olive oil in my nose daily because dry nasal passages can’t fend off bugs as well as moisturized ones. I apply it to my face, hands and feet whenever they’re particularly dry. Also, about once a month, I warm ¼ cup of olive oil apply to my hair (wet or dry—doesn’t mater) and let it seep in my hair while I soak in the tub.
Kosher Salt: This is my salt of choice for lavaging and gargling. I add 1/8 teaspoon to the water (boiled and cooled first) in my nasal lavage bottle every morning. I also gargle each a.m. with a quarter teaspoon (I use the rest of the leftover boiled water) to get the junk out of my throat (yes, dealing with chronic allergies means dealing with a lot of built-up congestion…) from the prior night’s sleep.
As for brands, I usually buy store brands to save money, especially as these products seem as effective as their brand-name counterparts. The only exception is olive oil. I read labels and spend more to ensure I’m buying 100% olive oil, and that it was pressed and bottled in one locale. Olive oil that has been processed in several countries is susceptible to “food fraud.” In this particular case, manufacturers may mix in other oils to reduce cost, oils I may not be able to tolerate (e.g. corn oil.)
I’m always on the lookout for more household remedies that cost pennies per dose; I’ll be sure to share here as I find them!
*Nasal lavage has been practiced for centuries. It’s a method to rinse, clear and moisturize the nasal and sinus passages with warm salt water.
**Essential oils, also known as volatile oils, are derived from natural substances such as plants. They are used for both their healing and aroma properties.
***Carrier oils, also known as base oils, dilute essential oils (but not their healing properties) so they may be applied on the skin without causing discomfort.
NEXT: Throw Back Thursday; look for it on Thursday, July 30!