Quick Tips: Home Remedies That Save the Day

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Last week I was feeling under the weather and determined I was suffering from allergies. Well, that allergy attack morphed into a behemoth of a head cold, which then bestowed upon me a wicked sinus infection and clogged ears.

Around the same time I blogged about colds vs. allergies, I was writing an article for our sister site, BabyFit.com, about natural home remedies. Kismet, it was.

In researching the story, I learned about a few new home remedies and was reminded of some oldies but goodies, too. As sickness descended upon me in the wee hours of night, I had to rely on what I had in my house to make me feel better.

Here's what helped me:
Honey and lemon:
Oh, elixir of the gods, how you coated and soothed my raw and burning throat! When heated and mixed into tea, you kept me hydrated, and when taken on your own, you quieted my cough.

Why? Lemon dries up congestion, and honey coats a raw and achy throat.

How? Mix a tablespoon each of lemon juice and honey, then microwave it for about 20 seconds (until warm). Swallow it a teaspoonful at a time.

Salt water:
You unsung hero. Your talents often go unnoticed. Salty and lukewarm, you, too, soothed my irritated throat and helped clear out my nasal passages.

Why? Salt water helps ease congestion and dries up nasal passages without causing irritation.

How? Mix 1/2 cup warm water with 1/2 teaspoon non-iodized salt. Use a neti pot (I love mine, though it does take some practice to use it correctly) or bulb syringe to pour the mixture into one nostril while leaning slightly forward. Breathe through your mouth. The salt water should flow out the other nostril. Repeat on the opposite side.

Gargle with salt water to clear out your throat and help dilate capillaries, thus increasing blood flow to your throat.

And the best home remedy of all:

Rice in an old sock!
Warm and dry, you relieved pressure in my cranium when it felt tighter than my skinny jeans. On forehead, eyes, jaw, or neck, you relaxed and pampered me as I tried to rest.

Why? When heated, the rice stays warm and helps soothe pain.

How? Fill an old sock with uncooked rice and sew or tie the top closed. (This is a great use for all those socks that mysteriously disappear in the dryer--and you can use the white rice you've swapped out for brown rice!) Heat the sock in the microwave for a minute or so, until it's warm. Place the sock wherever you're sore. When the sock cools, heat it again. This trick works with other grains, too. (Just don't plan on eating the grains after they've been used in the heat pack!)

This thing is amazing. It's more eco-friendly than those disposable heat wraps for muscles, and it's cheaper, too. As I type, it's wrapped around my neck, and last night, I slept with it over my eyes. It relieved all that painful sinus pressure, albeit momentarily.

I'll be using my rice sock quite often:
  • On my sore hamstrings after yoga class.
  • On my low back or neck on those days when I've been sitting for too long.
  • Under my feet when the office is chilly.
  • As a natural alternative to an electric blanket when the weather dips down.

    Make one tonight. You will feel instantly pampered.

    These home remedies couldn't cure me, but they sure did make life a bearable until I could get to the doctor.

    Have any other home remedies that you rely on? Will you try to make a rice sock?

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    I love this blog as there are some ideas that I already use and some that I will definately use. I am going to make rice socks ASAP for my husband. Due to health issues I am not allowed to take any meds. When I have been around someone that is sick, I go home have a bath, wash my hair and use my netipot. I also gargle with cider vinegar slightly diluted with water. I put clothes for laundry and I have only been sick one time in the past year. With 8 grandkids that is the first time that has happened. Another thing that I have found since having my diet so drastactily altered by my doctor 5 years ago, I have only had 2 migranes. I used to have at least one a week. This is because I don't eat any junk (chips, cookies, pop, etc.) or processed foods. If someone would have told me that could work I would not have believed it but I have seen it and am living better for it. Report
    netti pot worked wonders for my nasal congestion worked better than nasex and a LOT cheaper, plus gargling with salt water cured post nasal drip I had suffered with for years... who knew. Grew up using honey and lemon for coughs it always worked, now I know why. thanks Report
    Very much like the old remedies my Gran would fix up and use on us. Report
    I always put honey and lemon in some herbal tea when I have a cold. I also make an onion and garlic broth when I feel a cold coming on, and eat that a couple times a day, it seems to lessen the duration of the cold, and clear the sinuses. Not very tasty, you can put it in some chicken broth also, or I sometimes just add a lot of onion and garlic to chicken soup. I don't have a rice sock, but a neightbor of mine made two "rice packs", sewing some old terrycloth towels together and filling them with the rice. I use them whenever my neck is stiff or I have a tension headache. Report
    Great ideas. I have been meaning to make a rice sock, need to get that done. Thanks for reminding me. I will try the remedies for dry nose also. Mine gets dry in the corner and I get dry skin there, it looks horrible. I will be trying these remedies. Report
    I've tried all the remedies except the rice socks. My ENT doc still uses the salt water nasal rinse. Something else that comes in handy is a sore throat gargle I use. 1 cup boiling water, 1 Tbsp cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp honey, drink while warm. Really helps when I have a sore throat! Something else that's good for menstrual cramps is ginger tea and for indegestion chamomille tea. Report
    My five-year old is allergic (brain chemistry altering to the extreme) to every over-the-counter cold relief medicine. His pediatrician has found that this is true for more kids than we think (note - if you are giving your child cold medicine and your angel becomes a little devil, this is for you). She recommended the honey remedy for a cough supressant, but was specific about the type of honey - Buckwheat. It's not an easy-to-find type, but Whole Foods Markets sell it in the cute little plastic bears. One spoonful of this stuff and he's not coughing all night long.

    Cool mist humidifiers are also a dream for relieving congestion at night for your kids - no chemical side effects whatsoever.

    Today, my 11-year old daughter has a bad cold and I just used the lemon/honey (with the buckwheat kind) remedy five minutes ago. I'm anxious to see how she feels (she grimaced while she drank it, but oh well!).

    Thanks! Report
    Rice socks are the best! I used mine to warm up my cold feet the other night. Report
    Great ideas, thanks! Report
    I usually have horrible menstrual cramps where I have to take 3 motrin and 2 tylenol a few times a day. For my last menstrual period, I drank 1 tsp of blackstrap molasses in hot water 3 times a day. This time, I only had to take the motrin and tylenol once and it was because I had forgotten to drink my blackstrap molasses. Report
    Hmm - growing up in India, I've experienced all of these remedies and a few more! :) Rice socks - yep. Only, my mum stuffs them with wheat bran or rice bran instead of rice ... _much_ softer!

    Chamomile tea for upset tummies works, as well as the mint tea that someone else mentioned. In Indian grocery stores, you can even buy little mint extract capsules - these really help if you've got mild food poisoning (the kind that makes you wanna throw up!)

    I call mine my "warmie." My mom, two sisters and I use them for (shhh) cramps. They're AMAZING! Report
    I have a rice pad that I made many years ago and I have discovered a new trick!! :) I purchased Kleenexes with Vicks inadvertently and found that if I warm up my rice pad and throw a couple of these into the cover, it clears my sinuses out and makes my chest feel looser during those pesky winter colds! And the warm rice pad takes away the achiness! Report
    I must spend a small fortune in pain relief sticky pads. I am definitely going to make one of these for myself, and some for gifts. I have even given some thought to making a adapted version of the "rice sock" for my hips Report
    I am wondering if the rice sock (a small one) might be similar to an eye pillow I use for relaxation after yoga sometimes. I have seen them filled with lentils but never rice. I will definitely have to try making one. Report
    I use these all the time Report
    Great tips....and just in time for me! I feel terrible, sore throat, headache, chills. I'm going home to try the saltwater or apple cider gargle. I truly believe in home remedies, medications are so expensive. What worked for my grandmother is good enough for me! Thanks! Report
    I am a big fan of home remedies and if it was up to me that is all I would do!@ My mother is from the old school and she truly believes in the home remedies that she grew up by. There is proof in the pudding. I really enjoyed this article Report
    Thanks for the infor.I will make a rice sock today. Report
    I love the idea! Never thought of it. I have 2 store bought ones but they get dirty and they are expensive. I can't wait to try it out. I get migraines and all I want to do is lay there with a hot hot pack on my head. It will be great to have several so that I can always have one ready. Also, I will be able to have a few different sizes.

    Has anyone every put in any kind of scent for an aroma therapy type?
    If you suffer from migraines, avoid the lemon and honey, both of which can be migraine triggers.
    I'll try the rice sock, though. Report
    My sisters and I made a quilt last year and I took some of the scraps and made different sizes of the rice pads and gave them out. I use mine all the time and love it. Report
    I love the idea of the rice sock!!! Report
    I will make the rice socks. I may even use it as a Christmas gift idea for my students' parents.
    Sam Report
    These are all good ideas--Thanks for the info. I am aware of the Honey and Lemon juice (although I had forgotten about that) and I have used the warm salt water for a gargle...The rice sock will be my next thing to try--I have lots of pain in my thigh muscles that keep me awake at night--maybe the rice sock will help.

    Also I have used the warm salt water when my gums get puffy or even for a tooth abcess...takes the pain and swelling down quickly (just be sure the water is Hot)--swish it around in the mouth or hold it on the side of the abcess for a few minutes then spit it out. Continue until the salt water is gone. Report
    I'm definitely making rice socks!

    Cayenne pepper & salt water is good for gargling for a sore throat. Report
    I'm going to make a rice sock and carry it in my music bag! The piano keys at church take a while to warm up on Sunday mornings.

    Maybe I'll make a bunch of them, and lay them all along the keyboard... Report
    This really works. My husband had a bad disc in his neck, we purchased such as described above at a Drug store. It worked wonders for him as far as helping ease pain! Never thought of making one out of a sock.... Great idea. Report
    I never thought about using rice in a sock. What a great idea, I'm making one today. Thanks and keep up the great info. Report
    I grew up with these remedies - still use them as don't like meds at all. I would had a hot spicy chicken soup to the list, as it always helps me. Another use for the "rice bags" is that during the winter when I am getting ready for bed I take the two bags I have, warm them in the microwave, and put them in the bed to warm it before I get in. I relax immediately and can keep the thermostat lower during the night. Report
    We always had a HOT WATER BOTTLE when I was growing up. Guess now a "Rice Sox" is the replacement. LOL Report
    A nice microwaved "rice sock" (although mine are always more like rice pillows out of flannel) has been my go-to cure for cramps since the 7th grade. I've heard the warmth is supposed to relax the muscles and ease the pain a little and it's always worked for me. I like to keep one in the freezer too for minor twists and sprains and burns (Im a klutz).
    My favorite trick to get over a cold comes from my dad. When I start to feel a bug coming on I instantly go out and buy a big bottle of juice and "force fluids," not letting myself act "well" again (go out with friends, etc.) until the juice is gone. Usually the combination of forced rest and forced vitamins and forced fluids gets be back to health quickly.
    I bought one of those rice things from Origins last year when I was really sick. It had lavendar essential oils too. I loved it. I might sew myself one this year. Report
    Yes, on the cayenne in the salt water! It is a healing pepper and will get rid of bacteria in the mouth and throat; heals mouth sores, too. Try some in your chicken soup to give it a healing boost.
    If it burns too much for you at first, just drink water. It doesn't take milk to stop the heat like other hot peppers. That's good, as you want to avoid mucus causing milk with a cold. Report
    We use (unpopped) popcorn in our socks, or I sew a "bag" with flannel. Nice & soft & you can find all different patterns of flannel. Plus, the popcorn smells AWESOME when warm! Report
    When every I have a little tummy ache, I pick some mint leaves from my garden and make mint tea. This was my mother-in-laws remedy and has always worked well. Report
    I'm still trying to get the neti pot thing right, lol.

    The rice in the sock idea is great! I'm thinking of sewing up an old tshirt and filling it with rice. I have some major aches and pains! Report
    I used the old sock and rice trick on my husbands migraine last night... He said it felt nice on his forehead and neck - You gotta try it! But be sure you only put it in for a minute or so... any longer it gets way hot! Watch out!

    I haven't tried the rice idea, but sure plan on it because I have sinus pressure a lot and a regular heating pad is just to big. This sounds like it will fit the bill. God bless, Ginny Report
    gargle with peroxide when you have a sore throat Report
    I used old pyjamas sleeves..one inside the other for 2 layers. Then half filled with rice. Works great.Add some spices for aroma therapy too. Lavender or Cinnamon etc. Report
    The sock and rice trick is also great to to cure the pain of an ear infection! It takes the pain and makes me feel so much better! Report
    Oh my gosh -- these were all my mother's remedies! That, and an old cloth diaper smothered with Vicks Vaporub on the chest at night. Even better than regular honey, is raw unfiltered honey (but not for little kids). Or even just buy the honey still in the honeycomb and chew up some of that. It has lots more of the enzymes and "magic stuff". For flu, tho, nothing beats "oscillococcinum", a true homeopathic remedy. (big difference between herbs and homeopathy). Report
    Those ideas sound great. I'll try all of them.

    I also think highly of chicken soup for colds, and have sometimes boiled water, added Vicks, and breathed in the steam to treat congestion. Report
    I've had a rice "sock" for years, though I sewed it from fabric. Before I lost weight, I had a lot of back problems, and that little sack of rice has been there for me more than once... Report
    Thanks for the information. I am a firm believer of the netti pot. Report
    Some one asked: "What is good to relieve phlegm in your throat"

    The lemon will help with that but what I use is a tea made out of ginger. I buy the ginger root at the store, cut some slices of it, add it to some water in a pan and bring to a simmer then turn off the heat and let it steep until it is cooled down enough to drink.

    The ginger clears out what is in your nose which is migrating down your throat. The ginger tea tastes great with honey. That is how I usually have it. The honey is soothing to my throat too.

    A gargle with salt water (or plain water) will get rid of what is already in the throat to a degree but will not stop more from coming down.

    Although not a "home remedy" I swear by Vick's vapor rub. It stinks so I only use it when home sick with a cold and to bed but it works wonders at clearing out my nose from the drips as well as the junk down my throat.

    There are these Vick's tubes that you can sniff that helps some. It is not the spray decongestant that can back fire if used too much, it is just the vapor part of the Vick's rub that you sniff without having to wear in public.

    I have a request.... What is good to relieve phlegm in your throat?? I can't seem to find anything to help me with that problem... Report
    I've been gargling with warm salt water since I was a little girl. A few years ago, a nurse friend of mine, told me about the salt water for the nasal passages. You can cup the salt water in your hand and inhale it into your nose, one side at a time if you don't have a neti pot.
    Rice socks are wonderful. However if you make them, be sure to use a material that will not stretch. A friend of mine made one for me and the material stretched and stretched out the seams and the rice started coming out. Report
    I will try that tonight providing my son goes to bed on time. Report
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