Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Home remedies: Expert guidance on what works, and what doesn't

(ARA) - When it comes to taking care of your family and yourself, your health is no place to cut corners. Many home remedies, however, can help save you money - and preserve your health - when used wisely to supplement regular care or emergency care from your doctor.

"While patients should always see their doctors for regular checkups and treatment for significant medical issues, it is possible to supplement that care with cost-effective home remedies," says Dr. Philip Hagen, a preventive medicine expert at Mayo Clinic and editor-in-chief of the new "Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies." "Common ailments often have simple treatments that could save families hundreds of dollars in medical costs each year."

Whether motivated by the need to cut costs in an uncertain economy or the desire to simplify their lives, many Americans are looking for information about home remedies and self-care. From ear pain and minor eye ailments to varicose veins, a host of ailments can be addressed with home remedies.

Mayo Clinic experts offer guidance, both in the new book and online, for anyone interested in trying some home remedies:

* Chili pepper seed, when used as a rub applied directly to the skin, may ease aching joints.

* Ginger is thought to relieve nausea, and many Asian cultures incorporate it into their diets as a digestive aid.

* A neti pot, a small pot with a long spout, may help reduce sinus inflammation caused by allergies.

* Insomniacs may find relief by inhaling the fragrance of lavender.

* Plant-derived compounds like soy have estrogen-like effects that may help ease hot flashes for women going through menopause.

* A humidifier may help ward off colds by increasing the moisture in the air of your home. Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions.

* Vinegar is thought to reduce nail fungus. Soak your feet for 15 to 20 minutes in a mixture of one part vinegar, two parts warm water. Rinse your feet well and pat dry when done.

Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies also recommends you keep certain items on hand for general care and minor first-aid issues, including:

* Bandages of various sizes, gauze, paper or cloth tape, antibacterial ointment and antiseptic solution to deal with cuts.

* Cold packs, gauze, burn spray and an antiseptic cream to treat burns.

* Aids such as a thermometer, aspirin (for adults only) and acetaminophen for children to treat aches, pain and fever.

* Cold packs, elastic wraps and finger splints for sprains, strains and fractures. Remember, however, that serious injuries require treatment from a medical professional.

"Home remedies may not be appropriate for treating every situation all the time; when in doubt, it is always best to consult a medical professional," Hagen says. "But it may be possible to care for minor health issues at home, or to use home remedies to enhance the care you're already receiving from your doctor."

"Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies" is available at bookstores nationwide. You can find more health guidance on home remedies and many other health issues at www.MayoClinic.com.

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