We asked doctors for a peek inside their at-home feel-better tool kits—and they led us straight to their pantries and fridges and the produce aisle. Ahead, read up on their favourite easy ways to find relief from practically anything that ails you.
“When stomach flu strikes, ginger can help relieve nausea and vomiting and ease stomach cramps and bloating. Clinical studies show that the chemicals in ginger work in the stomach and intestines as well as the brain and nervous system to control nausea. Use it as a spice in meals, chew a piece of fresh ginger, or try taking ginger capsules.” —Maria C. Mejia de Grubb, M.D., associate professor, Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Family and Community Medicine
“People with acne tend to overdry their skin, which triggers more oil production. Apply a thin coat of coconut oil after cleansing with a salicylic wash. It has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, and its ingredients, including vitamin E, repair the skin barrier and help the marks heal.” —Diane Madfes, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology, Mount Sinai Hospital
“A sore throat is most often caused by a viral infection, which usually resolves on its own. But the scratchiness is uncomfortable, and swallowing worsens the irritation. Speed up the healing by dissolving 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon of salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water and gargle several times a day. Salt acts like a water magnet and pulls the excess fluid to reduce swelling and loosen mucus, helping flush out irritants or bacteria.” —Dr. Meija de Grubb
“Soak a cotton ball or swab in vinegar and apply several times a day. Dilute with water if it stings too much. Warts are caused by a viral infection in the top layer of skin. The vinegar probably works because its acidity is toxic to the replicating viral cells.” —Tanya Kormeili, M.D., dermatologist, Santa Monica, CA
“If you’re suffering from a bout of diarrhea, cook brown rice in twice the normal amount of water, then strain it. Once the water is cool, drink it. It contains electrolytes often lost with diarrhea.
Replacing electrolytes can help ease the problem.” —Amy Rothenberg, N.D., Naturopathic Health Care, Enfield, CT
“Studies suggest that garlic has immune-boosting properties. Mince or crush one to three cloves and leave them exposed to air for a few minutes. This boosts a sulfur compound called allicin, which acts like an antimicrobial to kill viruses and bacteria. Heating can destroy allicin, so add garlic at the very end of cooking.”—Chris D’Adamo, Ph.D., associate director of the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Integrative Medicine
“For oven burns or even winter sunburns, apply cool milk compresses. Milk, particularly whole milk, contains proteins, which help the skin repair itself, and lactic acid and fats that help to hydrate the skin. Keeping the skin hydrated is the best way to help it heal itself, and the compresses are also very soothing.” —Elizabeth Hale, M.D.,dermatologist at NewYork University Langone Medical Center
“I hear my rheumatologist wife talking about home remedies for knee pain all the time.The two core things she always tells her patients are ‘Don’t rest too much’ and ‘Try to exercise.’ Too much rest can weaken your muscles, which can actually make knee pain worse. Keeping active is usually a better and safer alternative to side effects of many pain medications.” —Dr. Raj Dasgupta