Strange Home Remedies for Common Ailments That Actually Work

Shannon Quinn - September 11, 2021
There is an old wive’s tale that sliced onions can cure a cold. Credit: Shutterstock

23. Onions to Cure the Cold and Flu

There is no cure for the common cold, and you can’t stop influenza unless you have the flu vaccine before catching the illness. But that hasn’t stopped people from trying new ways to stop symptoms in their tracks. A strange ancient folk remedy claims that all you need to relieve your symptoms is a few slices of raw onion. What you need to do is slice up an onion, and place it on the bottom of your foot. Then, cover up the onion with your sock so that it presses up against your skin. Apparently, this soaks up the toxins from your body.

According to the National Onion Association, this remedy goes all the way back to the 1500’s. Back then, people believed that disease spread at night through toxic air called miasma. So if you cut up onions and spread them around your house, you’d be catching the bad air. The strong smell of the onion supposedly counter-acted the disease. However, this was invented during the bubonic plague. So people were pretty desperate to try anything back then.

Beets contain fiber, so they can help alleviate constipation. Credit: Shutterstock

22. Beets Help Alleviate Constipation 

No one likes constipation. It’s uncomfortable, and it can cause bloating and pain when you try to go “number two”. One of the best ways to combat constipation is to get more fiber in your diet. A great home remedy that has been used for years is to simply eat boiled beets. Many people like to chop them up and eat them in a salad. Or, if you’re not a fan of eating beets, try to find beet juice at the grocery store instead.

The one huge negative about beets is the fact that they will dye everything red- including your poop. So if you go to the bathroom and suddenly everything is ready, don’t panic. This is totally normal, and will go away once you stop eating so many beets in your diet. Another great alternative to beets is any other fruit or vegetable with a lot of fiber. Prunes, olive oil, lemon juice, and yogurt are all foods that have been known to alleviate constipation. 

You can naturally whiten your teeth with baking soda and lemons. Credit: Shutterstock

21. Lemon Juice and Baking Soda for Natural Teeth Whitening

Getting your teeth professionally whitened at the dentist costs around $100. And those whitening kits at the pharmacy are at least $50 if you purchase a name brand. But did you know that you can get similar results with products you have around the house? All you need for this home remedy is lemon juice and baking soda. This works because lemon juice contains citric acid, which has a natural bleaching effect.

Create a paste by mixing equal parts baking soda and lemon juice. Spread the paste around your teeth using your toothbrush, and allow it to sit there for only two minutes. Be careful, because if you leave it on for too long, the acidity can erode your teeth. Also keep in mind that this shouldn’t be a replacement for your existing toothpaste. If you want your breath to smell minty fresh, follow up with your regular paste. After a few days, you might notice that your teeth look whiter. But it takes at least a few weeks of consistent use to see real results.

Coconut oil can be used for multiple different skin ailments. Credit: Shutterstock

20. Coconut Oil Helps Soften Your Skin and Scalp

Coconut oil became an incredibly popular ingredient to use while cooking your food, but it’s so much more than just something you can eat. The nutrition and fatty acids in the coconut oil are also an amazing thing to apply to your skin. You’ll find that your skin becomes smoother and softer over time. Believe it or not, coconut oil even contains lauric acid, which can help to prevent acne. 

Aside from putting coconut oil in your skin, you can also put it in your hair. Massaging it into your scalp is also great if you tend to have a problem with dryness or dandruff. Coconut oil also has antimicrobial effects. This is why so many people will hold a spoonful of coconut oil in their mouth and swish it around their teeth, because it helps to kill any bad bacteria in your mouth.

If you use toothpaste, you can dry out a pimple very quickly. Credit: Shutterstock

19. Toothpaste Can Dry Out a Pimple

There are a lot of misconceptions out there surrounding toothpaste and pimples. It’s an old home remedy that can cure acne by using toothpaste. The truth is that if you have a huge, swollen, red pimple on your face, it can help to dab on a small amount of toothpaste directly to the area. This will dry your skin, and the menthol in the toothpaste has a soothing sensation. Tea tree oil and charcoal masks are also great alternatives for home remedies to cure pimples.

However, the story doesn’t stop there. Dermatologists out there actually recommend that you never put toothpaste on your face, because it can potentially irritate your skin. On top of that, there are different ingredients in different brands of toothpaste, which yield different results. For example, an ingredient called triclosan was once used in toothpaste, which was proven to lessen breakouts. But that ingredient is no longer put in modern-day toothpaste. So, please don’t use toothpaste as a mask for your entire face! Apply a small amount directly to the pimple, and wash it off before going to bed.

Black licorice can smooth out dry and cracked feet. Credit: Shutterstock

18. Licorice Can Smooth Out Your Feet

Black licorice isn’t for everyone. It has such a specific taste, a lot of people completely reject it from their diet. But for those who love it, they can’t get enough. Some of you out there may even have black licorice on hand from your leftover Halloween candy. Or, you could easily grab a bag from your local Dollar Tree.

Believe it or not, licorice contains an estrogen-like substance. This can help smooth out the roughness of your feet. You can grind out black licorice and turn it into a paste, covering the affected areas of your feet. Dr. Oz recommends getting at least three sticks of licorice and grinding them together with sesame oil. Once it sits on your feet for a few minutes, wash it off. Repeat this process every night, and the size of your calluses should decrease.

These foods help alleviate the symptoms of diarrhea. Credit: Shutterstock

17. The BRAT Diet For Diarrhea 

When it comes to diarrhea, there are a lot of home remedy ideas out there on the Internet. Diarrhea causes dehydration, and you lose electrolytes throughout the day. One of the home remedy concoctions is to blend herbs and spices like cinnamon, cumin, and ginger together, and to drink it down with honey and water. However, this may not work on everyone, because you could have a negative reaction to the spices. 

However, it’s best to just go with some of the other home remedy ideas you’ve heard from your grandmother, like the “BRAT” diet. That stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. The idea is to eat bland foods that your body can digest slowly. Bananas also have a lot of potassium, and can help give your body the nutrients it requires in order to feel its best. 

Garlic helps with alleviating decongestion. Credit: Shutterstock

16. Garlic Helps With Decongestion and Sneezing

Many of you may have heard of the legend that vampires are afraid of garlic, because of its pungent smell. Even some humans dislike the taste of garlic, especially since it gives you bad breath. However, garlic is incredibly healthy for you to eat. It’s an anti-inflammatory, and can help alleviate a stuffy nose naturally.

Due to its strong smell, sniffing a piece of freshly crushed garlic can help clear up your nasal passages. Some say that garlic even helps stop you from sneezing. There is even a TikTok out there of a woman stuffing her nose with an entire garlic clove in order to stop her congestion. But according to doctors, TikTok is a myth. And that woman has spread false information to over 4 million viewers. Please don’t block your nasal passage if you try this home remedy.

Some people believe that apple cider vinegar cures a hangover. Credit: Shutterstock

15. Apple Cider Vinegar Can Cure a Hangover

Drinking can be fun. But the next day is always torture. Many of you out there have experienced the pain of a pounding headache, blurred vision, and general nausea associated with a hangover. And it seems like no matter what you do, you can’t fully go back to normal until the alcohol has left your system for good. Believe it or not, the solution to the problem may be taking another shot…Of apple cider vinegar, that is.

Since apple cider vinegar has such a strong taste, it’s recommended to mix the shot with water. All you need is a tablespoon diluted in an entire glass of water. Keep in mind that if you drink it straight, you might irritate your stomach even more. Once you drink it, you’ll see why it’s recommended. It jolts you awake and makes you feel alert almost immediately. Apple cider vinegar is a perfect home remedy for a hangover, because it’s a natural diuretic. It should help to alleviate your body of the toxins you were holding the night before. However, in some people, it could trigger nausea. But in some cases, it might be what you need to clean your system.

Salty olives can help to alleviate the symptoms of motion sickness. Credit: Shutterstock

14. Olives For Motion Sickness

Some of you out there may have experienced motion sickness as a passenger in a car, bus, plane, or boat. A strange home remedy for battling motion sickness is to eat olives. This apparently works, because of the tannins found in olives. They also dry out your mouth, with decreased saliva and vomiting.

Of course, if you dislike olives, this could have an opposite effect. I personally think the idea of eating olives out of the jar is disgusting, and it might make me more likely to vomit. So another home remedy for motion sickness is to nibble on crackers, or drink a carbonated beverage. You can also change your behavior by facing the direction of where you’re going. Consider taking the wheel, rather than being a passenger. And stop looking at your phone, books, magazines, or anything else that will strain your eyes.

Eating more yams may help reduce your symptoms of menopause. Credit: Shutterstock

13. Yams Help Soothe Symptoms of Menopause

If you’re a fan of Sex and the City, you may have already heard of the home remedy that yams help alleviate symptoms of menopause. This is because yams are full of Vitamin C and antioxidants. This can help your body feel better in general, whether you’re going through menopause or not. But is there more to this old wive’s tale?

A study in Taiwan conducted research with a group of postmenopausal women who added yams to their diet for 30 days. By the end of the study, these women had a significant improvement with their hormone and cholesterol levels. Other studies have also proven that yams could even prevent breast cancer, or increase your libido. Yams are delicious, so there’s no harm in eating more of them if you’re trying to reduce menopause symptoms naturally.

Tennis balls can help relieve tension in your feet. Credit: Shutterstock

12. Use a Tennis Ball For a DIY Foot Massage

For those of you who spend large portions of your days standing on your feet, it gets very tiring. And for anyone who is pregnant or recently gained weight, it can cause even more pain in your feet. Not everyone has a loving partner who is willing to give you a foot massage. So if you’re riding solo, consider using a tennis ball for a DIY massage.

All you need to do is to place a tennis ball on a flat surface, like the floor of your bedroom. Place your foot on the tennis ball one foot at a time, rolling it back and forth while you relax your feet. This is said to release any pressure in your feet, even with painful conditions like plantar fasciitis. The more pressure you put on the tennis ball, the deeper it will go. However, if you start to feel pain, give yourself a break.

Vegetable oil helps to heal brittle nails. Credit: Shutterstock

11. Vegetable Oil For Moisturizing Brittle Nails

There are a ton of products out there for strengthening your hair and nails. And if you’ve ever gotten a manicure, you know that they will put oils and products on your hands during the process of grooming you. But sometimes, no matter how many manicures you get, some people have brittle nails that are prone to breaking. If this sounds like you, consider using a home kitchen remedy of vegetable oil or olive oil.

All you need to do is wash your hands thoroughly, dry them, and apply vegetable oil directly to your nails. Wear gloves overnight, and allow the oil to absorb into your hands. If you can’t manage to keep those gloves on every day, you can also let your hand soak in a bowl of oil for a few minutes every day. Make sure you massage into the crevices and let the moisture take hold before you clean and dry your hands again. Over time, this should improve your nails just as much as any store-bought remedy.

Baking soda can help remove splinters from your skin. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Baking Soda to Remove Stubborn Splinters

For anyone who has gotten a splinter before, you already know how annoying and painful this can be. If you leave a splinter in for too long, it could potentially get infected. The most traditional way to remove a splinter is by using a needle and tweezers to pull it out of your skin. But if you’re alone, or you can’t get the splinter out no matter how hard you try, baking soda is a great alternative.

There are two ways for this home remedy to work. The first is to clean your skin thoroughly before soaking your hand into a mixture of baking soda and water. This will swell the skin. In theory, it can push out the splinter. If this doesn’t work, then you must create a baking soda paste. Leave the paste on top of the skin with the splinter, and cover it with a bandaid. Leave the bandage on for at least 24 hours. Once you remove the bandage, the splinter should be gone.

Eating cold ice and ice cream can help soothe a mouth burn. Credit: Shutterstock

9. Eat Ice Cream After a Mouth Burn

Almost everyone has experienced eating hot food too quickly, and burning the inside of your mouth. This is especially true when eating pizza, when hot cheese oozes off of the fresh slices. According to EveryDayHealth, the best remedy for a mouth burn is to simply find something cool to suck on, like an ice cube. It’s also smart to avoid abrasive foods that could make things worse, and take aspirin and ibuprofen.

Believe it or not, the dairy from milk or even ice cream can help with mouth burns. This sounds like an excuse to continue eating unhealthy foods for the rest of the night after you’ve burned your mouth on pizza. Apparently, it really works, because the dairy coats the mouth and helps soothe the pain. Maybe there is some truth to the old home remedy suggestion to eat as much ice cream as you want after getting tonsils removed. Apparently, anything in pain around your mouth can be eased with a good bowl of ice cream.

Cleaning your skin with oatmeal can help alleviate many skin conditions. Credit: Shutterstock

8. Oatmeal is a Great Home Remedy to Soothe Eczema and Other Skin Conditions

If you have ever suffered from eczema, you already know how difficult it can be to soothe the skin. This is especially true if the skin has already become so dry and cracked, adding lotions begin to feel painful, because it stings your exposed skin. So a great home remedy to help ease redness in your skin is by creating an oatmeal mask. Oatmeal contains polysaccharides, which is a form of sugar. It helps the skin create a protective barrier and prevent it from losing too much moisture.

Mix two cups of oats with one cup of water. Warm up the mixture, and create a paste similar to what you would eat for breakfast. After the oatmeal has cooled down, apply this to your skin, and leave it on for at least 20 minutes. This remedy of taking oatmeal baths has also been recommended for chicken pox, rashes, Then wash it off. Just keep in mind that when you’re doing an oatmeal bath, it can quickly clog your drain. It’s also a huge pain to clean up afterwards. So if you can find a product on the market that contains a washable version of colloidal oatmeal, that may work better for you instead.

Biting a pencil or pen can help with a tension headache. Credit: Shutterstock

7. Biting Down on a Pencil Can Ease a Tension Headache

As strange as it may sound, biting down on a pencil can help you get rid of a bad headache. This is especially true for tension headaches caused by stress and anxiety. If you tend to clench your jaw when you get stressed out, try biting down on a pencil instead. By creating space between your jaws, it will stop you from grinding your teeth. Some people say that it’s okay to bite down on a pen too, but I personally don’t recommend it if you think it may break.

Migraines are said to be related to the temporomandibular joint, which are the muscles that hinge your jaw together. So by releasing this tension, you could potentially be alleviating a migraine. Just remember that this solution is meant to be temporary. Use the time you’re biting down on the pencil to do breathing exercises, and listen to some soothing music. Other health resources recommend chewing gum instead, since this can also release the tension from your headache.

Golden raisins soaked in gin are supposed to help with symptoms of arthritis. Credit: Shutterstock

6. Raisins and Gin Can Help Ease Arthritis Symptoms 

A strange yet popular remedy to help alleviate arthritis symptoms are called “drunken raisins”. As the name suggests, this is when you take golden raisins and soak them in gin. Proponents of this home remedy say that it helps to alleviate stiffness, pain, and swelling in their joints. This could be due to the fact that raisins contain tons of vitamins and minerals, while gin is supposed to have anti-inflammatory properties.

This idea became popular in the 1990’s after a radio host called Paul Harvey talked about his home remedy over the radio. Some people who have tried this method say that it works, and they love eating drunken raisins as an evening snack. However, there has never been a scientific study to prove or disprove if this method actually works or not. So if you have arthritis, you might just want to give gin soaked raisins a try.

Gargling salt water can help cure multiple issues. Credit: Shutterstock

5. Gargling Salt Water For Multiple Ailments

Many of you have heard your mothers and grandmothers recommend that you gargle salt water for a sore throat. Believe it or not, gargling salt water can actually ease the symptoms of multiple ailments. This can help with sinus and respiratory infections, inflamed gums, and even the swelling caused by tonsillitis. It’s also a great way to help alleviate allergies, heal canker sores, and so much more.

Making this solution is easy. All you need to do is to add half a teaspoon of salt into an 8-ounce cup of warm water. Swish and gargle it around your mouth towards the back of your throat for as long as you can handle before spitting it out. If you swallow a small amount, it’s okay, but try to avoid it. Salt water can make you sick when it’s ingested in large amounts. The high salt content will reduce inflammation, and should help to heal an infection in your mouth. Repeat this process every day in addition to any over-the-counter medications you may be taking to ease the symptoms.

Using honey on your lips can help make them soft and smooth. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Honey Can Smooth Chapped Lips

If you’ve run out of Chapstick, you can always grab some raw honey as an alternative moisturizer for dry lips. Honey contains natural healing properties, and it dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece as a way to heal wounds on the skin. It’s antibacterial, antimicrobial, and moisturizing all at the same time. So if you have a wound on your lips, or you just generally feel like you need to change your lip care routine, consider honey. It’s also supposed to be great for cracked skin, acne, and even your scalp.

Another sweet method for taking care of your lips is to create a sugar body scrub. Mix sugar with coconut oil, and you can create a scrub that’s abrasive enough to remove flakiness while still being gentle on your skin. Follow up with honey after your sugar scrub, and you’ll have the softest- and sweetest- mouth around.

Stinging nettle tea is known to help with stimulating hair growth. Credit: Shutterstock

3. Stinging Nettle Tea Slows Down Hair Loss

For those of you who like to garden, you may have heard of stinging nettles. They are mostly prevalent in England, and they literally prick your fingers when you try to pull them out of your garden. Here in the United States, we have a variety called “false nettles”, which don’t contain stingers. Most people will throw away stinging nettles. But according to an old home remedy, they say that turning the weed into a tea actually helps prevent hair loss.

Whether you’ve gone bald, or you’re simply experiencing hair loss due to stress, drinking stinging nettle tea may help. For centuries, this has been an old wive’s method to accelerate hair growth and even cut down on greasiness in your scalp. However, while it may help, I doubt that it could recover someone who was already fully badly.

Soaking your feet in vodka helps eliminate bad odor. Credit: Shutterstock

2. Vodka Foot Baths Eliminate Odor

For those of you who have seen the TV show Mythbusters, you may have watched the episode challenging the old home remedy that a vodka bath can eliminate foot odor. They came to the conclusion that vodka does, in fact, work just as well to clean your feet as an over-the-counter foot soak that you find at your local pharmacy.

The reason why this works is that the vodka is an antiseptic, which will kill the bacteria on your feet. It is also odorless when it dries. If you don’t have time to soak your feet in vodka for an extended period of time, you can simply take a cotton ball and wipe down your feet instead. Or, fill a spray bottle with vodka and use it to spray your feet before putting them back in your shoes. While it may seem obvious, make sure you clean your feet with soap and water beforehand. Remember that this home remedy shouldn’t eliminate regular old hygiene.

Chewing on cloves can help alleviate pain from a toothache. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Cloves For a Toothache

Having a toothache is horrible, and not everyone can go to the dentist right away. Or, you may run out of your over-the-counter medication. There is an old home remedy of chewing on cloves in order to get some relief. This is because cloves contain a chemical called eugenol. It works almost like anesthesia, numbing and easing the pain in your mouth. Cloves are also known to have antibacterial properties.

However, you shouldn’t swallow cloves, because it can make you sick. Some people might also have an adverse reaction to cloves like diarrhea, upset stomach, breathing difficulties, or burning in your nose and throat. This is why many doctors recommend buying clove oil rather than chewing on the actual cloves. When you have the liquid product, it’s easy to make your own toothpaste using both clove and coconut oil mixed together.