We don’t know about you, but it definitely feels like the autumn lured us into a false sense of security. Now winter bug season has hit us with full force! Whether it’s a snuffly nose or dry skin that hates the cold, many of us will be reaching for various lotions and potions at the moment to help us feel tip-top through the winter months, even if it makes our bank balances a little under the weather.
But what if you didn’t have to head to the pharmacy every week, and you could treat some of your minor ailments using cheap ingredients you tend to have at home? Check out our five favourite home remedies that could help you steer clear of the healthcare counter!
From travel sickness to tummy bugs, ginger is the unsung hero of nausea relief. A widely used medicinal spice, researchers believe that chemicals found in ginger work in the digestive system to do away with nausea and inflammation, and can help with pain relief, too.
Ginger can be an acquired taste, so if you’re feeling a bit squiffy, don’t worry – you don’t have to munch on raw ginger root to get the benefits! Sipping on a glass of ginger ale or a mug of warming ginger tea, or tucking into ginger biscuits should still help you to feel better. As if you needed an excuse to treat yourself to a gingerbread man!
Just a spoonful of sugar…
We all know the song – a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, right? But did you know it can be a medicine in itself? Swallowing a teaspoon of sugar then gargling some iced water for 30 seconds can help to cure hiccups. It’s believed that doing this sends a signal to the brain that disrupts the horrible cycle of hiccups. So no more waiting for someone to make you jump – which so doesn’t work if you’re expecting it – or passing out from holding your breath!
As well as its soothing properties and reputation for helping you get off to sleep, lavender is also a decongestant that can help to unblock painful sinuses and stuffy noses while smelling much better than traditional eucalyptus and menthol remedies.
For a quick and portable homemade remedy, mix two spoons of water with 30g of sea salt, 3 drops of olive oil and 3 drops of olive oil in a pan and bring to the boil. Once it’s cooled down, transfer your potion into a bottle and apply a few drops to each nostril as and when you need to!
The spiky Aloe Vera plant may look intimidating, but is surprisingly gentle on the inside. The gel found inside Aloe Vera leaves can help to relieve all sorts of skin conditions like rashes, sores, and even frostbite. Where it’s particularly effective though, is in soothing minor burns, such as those caused by oil splashing back at you as you cook.
If the affected area is quite small (no bigger than a few inches) and the skin isn’t broken, then running the burn under a cold tap to reduce swelling, then smoothing the area over with aloe vera can help to soothe the pain and aid the skin in its recovery. If it looks like a nasty burn, though, it’s better to seek medical advice to be on the safe side before you attempt any home treatments!
Oats, eggs and honey
Going back and forth between the cold air outside and warm air inside several times a day can take its toll on your skin during the winter, especially if it’s already on the sensitive side. Moisturising becomes an essential part of your routine, but can be an expensive habit! Making your own masks and scrubs at home can be a great way to sort your skin out without giving your wallet a shock, and who doesn’t love a bit of a pamper session? Give these ideas a try:
You may not think it, but egg yolks are an effective moisturiser. Beat two egg yolks with a few drops of olive oil, then apply to your face and any other patches of dry skin and leave it for about 20 minutes. Wash it off with cold water for an instant smoothness boost!
This one isn’t quite so unusual – oats are a great exfoliator. Mix a few tablespoons of rolled oats with about 100ml of hot (but not boiling) water, a couple of spoons of yoghurt, the same again of honey, and an egg, and you’ll have a great exfoliating mask. Spread a thin layer across your face, and anywhere else you need to exfoliate, and leave it to dry for about 15 minutes. Rinse it off with warm water.
If you’re ever in any doubt about whether you’re treating your symptoms in the right way, or if your symptoms are getting worse rather than better despite treatment, seek medical advice from your GP or NHS Direct to set your mind at ease.
What are your tried and tested home remedies? Let us know in the comments!