Home Remedies Backed by Science
Hospitality Food & Wine|Mid Feb 2020 Year 3 Issue 2
It’s not clear exactly what makes a home remedy do the trick.
Rosa Escandón

Overview

Chances are you’ve used a home remedy at some point: herbal teas for a cold, essential oils to dull a headache, plantbased supplements for a better night’s sleep. Maybe it was your grandma or you read about it online. The point is you tried it - and perhaps now you’re thinking, “Should I try it again?”

It’s not clear exactly what makes a home remedy do the trick. Is it an actual physiological change in the body or more of a placebo effect? Thankfully, in recent decades, scientists have been asking the same questions in a lab, and are finding that some of our plant-based remedies aren’t just old wives’ tales.

And so, for the skeptic who needs more than a placebo to feel well, we got your back. Here are the home remedies backed by science:

Turmeric for pain and inflammation

Who hasn’t heard of turmeric by now? Turmeric has been used, primarily in South Asia as a part of Ayurvedic medicine, for almost 4,000 years. When it comes to proven medicinal purposes, the golden spice may be best for treating pain - specifically pain associated with inflammation.

Several studies have found that curcumin is responsible for turmeric’s “wow” factor. In one study, people with arthritis pain noted that their pain levels were more reduced after taking 500 milligrams (mg) of curcumin than 50 mg of diclofenac sodium, an antiinflammatory drug.

Other studies back up this pain relief claim as well, noting that turmeric extract was as effective as ibuprofen for treating pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis.

Don’t go grinding turmeric - which stains heavily! - for immediate relief though. The amount of curcumin in turmeric is at most 3 percent, meaning you’re better off taking curcumin supplements for relief.

That’s not to say a soothing turmeric latte won’t help. It’s suggested that 2 to 5 grams (g) of the spice may still provide some benefits. Just be sure you add black pepper to boost the absorption.

Turmeric is about the long game. Consuming 1/2 to 1 1/2 tsp. of turmeric per day should start providing noticeable benefits after four to eight weeks.

Chili peppers for pain and soreness

This active component of chili peppers has a long history of use in folk medicine and has slowly become more accepted outside of homeopathy. Now, capsaicin is a popular topical ingredient for managing pain. It works by causing an area of the skin to get hot, before eventually turning numb.

Today, you can get a prescription capsaicin patch called Qutenza, which relies on very high level of capsaicin - 8 percent- to work.

So, when it comes to sore muscles or generalized body pain that won’t leave you alone, and you have some hot peppers or cayenne pepper on hand? Make some capsaicin cream.

DIY capsaicin coconut oil cream

• Mix 3 tbsp. of cayenne powder with 1 cup of coconut.

• Heat the oil on a low simmer until it melts.

• Stir the mixture thoroughly for 5 minutes.

• Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Let it firm up.

• Massage onto skin when cooled.

For an extra fancy feel, whip your coconut oil with a hand mixer so that it becomes light and fluffy.

It’s important to test your reaction to the compound before using too extensively. You may also use jalapeño peppers, but the amount of heat may vary depending on the pepper. Never use this cream around the face or eyes, and be sure to wear gloves during application.

Ginger for pain and nausea

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