A Look at Some Effective Home Remedies

It’s probably a safe bet that most readers of Running & FitNews are big fans of evidence-based medicine that deploys well tested treatments shown to be effective through randomized clinical trials. Still, this is not to say that certain home remedies do not have a place on the treatment spectrum. Harvard Women's Health Watch executive editor Beverly Merz recently assembled information on home remedies that may save you money and help keep the doctor away. Certain conditions that aren’t deadly serious or that lack surefire cures are good candidates for home treatment. Here we look at some.

Advantages to home remedies
Home remedies are inexpensive. Even though prescription drugs and over-the-counter products may be available for some conditions, home remedies may also be effective at a fraction of the cost. For example, the price of a year’s supply of efinaconazole (Jublia), used to treat toenail fungus, is several thousand dollars. A tub of Vicks VapoRub—read on for details—is around $24.

Home remedies are also readily available when you need them. You may already have them in your kitchen cabinet or on your bathroom shelves. If not, they’re likely to be as close as the nearest 24-hour drugstore or supermarket.

Evidence of effectiveness
Hundreds of testimonials for a home remedy on the internet may provide some assurance that it may help and probably won’t hurt you, but evidence from a well-conducted scientific study is far preferable. For example, a small study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Physicians in 2011 demonstrated that Vicks can help eliminate toenail fungus.

In that study, 15 of 18 volunteers with fungus-infected toenails had significant improvements, and five had complete eradications of the fungus, after daily applications of Vicks for a year.

And chicken soup as a cold remedy has undergone scientific scrutiny as well. A clinical study published in Chest in 1978 demonstrated that drinking chicken soup increased the flow of nasal mucus significantly more than drinking either hot or cold water.

The remedies listed below have been tested in clinical studies that have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals.

Caveats
Some innocuous-seeming home remedies can have dangerous side effects. For example, baking soda dissolved in water, once recommended for relieving indigestion, has sent hundreds of people to the emergency room with electrolyte imbalances. If you’re taking any home remedy for an extended period, you may want to check with your doctor to see if there are any risks involved.

Harvard Health Blog, March 22, 2017, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/

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