There's no denying the secret curing powers found in certain everyday items. Salt water, for instance, can take the sting out of a sore throat. And an oatmeal bath can ease eczema. So how about soothing a burn with butter? Not so fast. That and other common home remedies aren't just ineffectual; they can actually exacerbate the issue. So before you go DIY on treating bad breath, colds or cuts, check out these nine tactics to avoid.
Butter for Burns
Sure, putting a cold piece of butter onto a burn sounds promising, but according to Derek van Amerongen, MD, medical director of HumanaVitality, a health and wellness company, this method practically asks for an infection. "Butter can seal bacteria in the tissue," he explains. The kitchen staple also creates an environment for bacteria growth, irritating skin even more. If you don’t want to rely on antibiotic creams and over-the-counter meds to soothe the injury, an aloe vera plant can provide relief.
Mayonnaise for Lice
While slathering on the white stuff can smother some live lice, it can’t kill eggs, says Laurie Steelsmith, MD, medical director of Steelsmith Natural Health Center in Honolulu and co-author of Natural Choices for Women's Health. Plus, the condiment turns rancid fairly quickly—and is guaranteed to make a big mess. A more effective (and pleasant) DIY treatment: oil and vinegar. "Apply ample amounts of olive oil to the scalp, leave on for three hours, wash out and then apply straight, white-distilled vinegar, which can break down egg casings and remove them from the hair shaft," says Dr. Steelsmith. Repeat the process for two to three days to kick those creepy-crawlies to the curb.
Coffee for Hangovers
The best part of waking up doesn't do much for your liver, which has been overwhelmed with alcohol. Worse, a cup o' joe can further dehydrate you and irritate your stomach, warns Dr. Steelsmith. "You want to help your body clear toxins, and drinking enough water is much better at supporting your recovery," she points out. Pairing H2O with B-complex vitamin supplements, which aid in cell function, and some easy-to-digest food, like crackers and toast, will bring your body back in balance. Before you drink next time, Dr. Steelsmith suggests taking a milk thistle supplement—and another before you go to bed. Although the herb isn’t proven to zap hangovers, it does protect the liver from booze’s toxic effects.
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