Household Health Remedies: Fact or Fiction?

Have a cough or an earache? Consult this list before giving the ol' household remedies a try.
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If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find a ton of remedies for whatever ails you, whether you want to cure an earache or you suddenly feel nauseated. Maybe your hair needs a little pick-me-up and you don’t want to break the bank with products, or you have a sore throat and nothing is helping. There are many tricks out there, but the question is: Do they really work?

Honey helps with a cough: FACT
“Honey is an acceptable cough remedy. Scientifically speaking, it’s a mild natural cough suppressant and safe for children over one year old. Since children’s cough medicines were removed from the market years ago, it’s our safest and best option for kids with a cough.” —Dr. James Hedde, DO, from Direct Doctors, East Greenwich, 400-2699, directdoctors.org

A mixture of baking soda and lemon juice applied to your underarms will reduce body odor: MYTH
“While we don’t see the harm in this one, we suggest the try-it-before-you-buy-it approach. If it helps you, okay! But we think this may be a myth. Most deodorants are better choices in the long run. We suggest avoiding antiperspirants because of long-standing controversy about whether they are harmful over time. Of course, with any home or pharmaceutical remedy, we always suggest you ask your doctor first to be sure they can tailor advice to you and your special needs.” —Dr. James Hedde

Baking soda or salt water rinse helps with canker sores and sore throat: FACT
“These home remedies will not ‘cure’ the viral illness that causes canker sores, but it may provide some symptomatic relief. The best bet is to try one and see if it helps. If it hurts, then it probably isn’t a great idea!” —Dr. James Hedde

Olive oil helps with earaches: MYTH
“We do not suggest pouring oil into your ears. Whether it might help with soreness or not remains unclear. What is clear is that when patients do this, they present to their doctor’s office shortly after, often with a clogged ear drum, unable to hear well because oil does not easily or quickly wash out from the ear canal.” —Dr. James Hedde

Tea tree oil helps hair stay healthy and moisturized: MYTH
“The short answer is no. Undiluted or neat, tea tree oil is very astringent and high in anti-microbial properties that can be beneficial for many things when used properly with other oils and in the correct dilution. Although tea tree can be used on the skin undiluted without risk of burning or irritation (as most essential oils will cause irritation or burn if used neat and not diluted in a carrier oil), I do not recommend using any essential oil neat. They are highly concentrated distillations or carbon dioxide extractions of plant material (takes approximately twenty-two pounds of rose petals to make a five-milliliter bottle of rose essential oil for perspective) and since they are so powerful you would only use 1 percent of essential oil in a total blend. There are also different safety dermal limits to consider for each oil. Essential oils are very beneficial if used properly; tea tree oil on its own, however, while beneficial for the scalp and skin, has no benefit for the hair and moisture retention.” —Jo-Anna Cassino from Flipp Salon in Providence, 274-1981, flippsalon.com.