Natural Health

9 Affordable At-Home Remedies That Have Stood the Test of Time

The next time you find yourself sidelined by a rash, burn, or other minor health hassle, skip a trip to the doctor’s office (and avoid the price of a co-pay!) and reach for one of these inexpensive, time-tested, at-home cures instead.

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Nix warts with aspirin.

Rub crushed aspirin on a wart before bed and cover with duct tape; remove in the morning. Repeat daily until the wart is gone. How it works: The tape deprives the wart of oxygen, and aspirin’s salicylic acid, an ingredient in many wart treatments, dissolves the wart. Money saved: $8 on wart remover.

Avoid poison ivy rash with dish soap.

If you brush up against poison ivy, immediately wash your skin with a liquid dish detergent like Palmolive, then dab on a little more and let dry. How it works: Degreasing compounds in the soap break down the plant’s rash-producing residue, reducing the risk of developing a rash by 60 percent. Money saved: $9 on anti-itch ointment.

Eradicate nail fungus with this mix.

If your nails thicken and take on a yellowish tinge, soak them in a solution of equal parts mouthwash and white vinegar for 15 minutes. Repeat three times a week. How it works: Antifungal mouthwash and acidic vinegar work together to help kill fungus. Money saved: $12 on antifungal treatment.

Heal skin with lavender.

Treating minor injuries with diluted lavender essential oil (which is loaded with the healing compounds linalool and borneol, making it an essential ingredient in many at-home cures) has been shown to kill germs, reduce swelling, and speed the formation of new collagen and skin cells to reduce healing time by as much as 45 percent, say Australian researchers. To do: Mix three drops of lavender oil into a half teaspoon of coconut oil or another carrier oil and gently dab on wounds. Money saved: $8 on antibiotic cream.

Relieve a minor burn with baking soda.

To quickly soothe the pain of a minor burn, pour one teaspoon of baking soda into a small bowl, then add enough water to make a paste (about one or two teaspoons). Use your fingers to gently apply the paste to the affected skin and let dry. How it works: The slightly alkaline powder will balance the skin’s pH levels to cut down on blistering and speed healing. Plus, the paste contracts as it dries, tightening the skin, which limits swelling. Money saved: $10 on burn cream.

Bonus: This baking soda paste will also soothe the pain of a bee sting! (The alkaline powder counteracts the acid in the venom.)

Eliminate dandruff with mouthwash.

Thymol (a key ingredient in many brands of mouthwash) destroys 24 strains of fungi — the troublemakers that cause itchy flakes, according to researchers in China. This plant extract even kills the drug-resistant fungi that dandruff shampoos have trouble taming. To do: Pour one-and-a-quarter cup of a thymol-containing mouthwash (like Listerine Cool Mint) onto damp hair and massage into your scalp. Wait five minutes, then shampoo as usual. Repeat daily until the flaking disappears. Money saved: $15 on medicated shampoo.

Soften calluses with castor oil.

If you’ve developed calluses on your feet, try this before-bed remedy: Dampen a few cotton balls with castor oil, place them on rough spots, and cover with a bandage before slipping socks on your feet. In the morning, wash the area, then gently buff with a pumice stone and moisturize. According to researchers at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, castor oil’s ricinoleic acid softens thick skin, reduces swelling, and strengthens and heals epidermal tissues, smoothing even stubborn calluses in as little as five days. Money saved: $12 on callus remover.

Treat canker sores with aloe vera gel.

Canker sores are the top cause of oral pain. Fortunately, there’s a simple remedy: Dab the sores with aloe vera gel (from the plant’s leaves, or try Seven Minerals’ Aloe Vera Gel) three times daily. According to researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, doing so cuts the pain in half and speeds healing by 33 percent. That’s because aloe’s sterols and polysaccharides (compounds that reduce inflammation) calm pain nerves and stimulate the repair of damaged tissues. Money saved: $11 on canker sore gel.

Shrink varicose veins with witch hazel.

One of our favorite at-home cures? Dabbing witch hazel on mild varicose veins twice a day. This can reduce their appearance — and soothe vein-related pain — in as little as seven days, according to British researchers. The reason? Witch hazel contains astringent, anti-inflammatory compounds that help shrink puffy veins and reduce the darkness that appears when blood pools in them. Tip: Keep the witch hazel in the refrigerator if your varicose veins tend to itch. Applying the chilled liquid provides immediate relief. Money saved: $20 on vein cream.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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