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Doctors' Notes

Home Remedies Put To The Test

Our physician experts share how home remedies are more than just old wives' tales and can actually be effective. Learn how to treat common ailments at home.

Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents and husband and wife physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson.  The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health, as it relates to African Americans.  Please feel free to send them questions via digitalpitches@ebony.comWe promise to keep it anonymous. 

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Question:  Growing up, I have always been told to drink orange juice at the first sign of a cold.  Does this or the other home remedies we’ve always been told really work?

Many can recall advice that was given by a mom, grandmother, or other motherly figure as to how to stay healthy, treat a minor illness, or diagnose just about anything.  But I think it is safe to say that most people wonder if there is any truth to these “old wives’ tales,”  Well, as it turns out, many of these home remedies do have some value.

In fact, there is scientific evidence that vitamin C, which is plentiful in orange juice, bell peppers, and leafy green vegetables can help to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold by at least one day or more.  Additionally, zinc, which occurs naturally in meat, eggs, and fish has also been shown to shorten the duration of the common cold.

As always, it is necessary to seek the advice of a medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of any illness.  However, we have listed a few other proven home remedies that just may help to improve some minor issues in the meantime.

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

Leg Cramps: Yellow Mustard

There are several theories as to why mustard works and it’s not fully understood. It may be the turmeric or perhaps the vinegar ingredient, but there is no denying it has healing properties and can offer quick relief of leg cramps.

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

High Blood Pressure: Beet Juice and Celery

While certainly not a substitute for medication, it has been shown that drinking two cups of beet juice and/or eating four stalks of celery daily may help to lower blood pressure by 10 points or more.  It is thought that these foods contain certain nutrients that relax the blood vessels, increasing blood flow and in turn, lowering the blood pressure.

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

Hiccups: Chocolate

This is another mystery, but seems to work.  Whether eating chocolate chips or candy bars, chocolate in multiple forms has been shown to stop a hiccup attack in its tracks. Dark or milk chocolate both work well, although dark chocolate has actually been shown to have multiple health benefits including lowering blood pressure and risk for stroke, as well as being chock full of vitamins and minerals.

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

Diarrhea: Coconut

Coconuts are packed with lauric acid, an ingredient that has proven antimicrobial properties.  The next time an upset stomach hits, try eating coconut macaroons, a coconut candy bar, or adding shredded coconut to your meal.

Credit: Thinkstock

Credit: Thinkstock

Wounds, Burns, or Cold Sores: Raw Honey

When placed on minor cuts, scrapes, or burns it appears that honey helps to decrease the pain and can help to prevent blistering.  It has also been known to decrease the inflammation associated with cold sores and speed the healing process if taken at the first sign of an outbreak. (*Please note that honey can NOT be given to infants under the age of 1 due to the risk of botulism-a severe and potentially life-threatening illness.)

YOUR TURN: What are your favorite home remedies? Let us know in the comments!

It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!

About the Doctors:

Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall Magazine and host the Urban Housecall Radio Show.  For more from the doctors, visit their website at www.urbanhousecallmagazine.com, like them on Facebook UrbanHousecallMagazine, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!