Home Remedies That Work

Preventive Care & Home Remedies

Even if you’re diligent about preventive care and wellness screenings, the pandemic may have sent you off track. Totally understandable. The risks, limitations, or availability may have made it difficult to maintain regular practices. There’s plenty you can do at home, though. Diane Downing, MD, of Canyon Ranch Tucson, believes you can usually manage with self-care, good communication, and home remedies.

“Many people I talk with are anxious about missing their mammograms, colonoscopies, and other important check-ups,” Dr. Downing says. “If you have no symptoms, such as a breast lump or blood in your stool, and you’re not at elevated risk, you should be okay putting off routine screening exams for a few months if necessary.

“If you’re at high risk based on your family or personal medical history, however, make it a point to follow your usual schedule. As you can imagine, health care practitioners follow every sanitation protocol, doing everything to keep you and them safe.”

Remote & Connected

We’ve all learned to communicate remotely, and Dr. Downing says telemedicine has developed as a good way to keep in touch and feel connected with your doctor. It may become a preferred norm for some people; when you don’t need to see your doctor in person, you can perform self-care and check in with updates.

“It’s easy to buy a blood pressure cuff at the drugstore, for example, and check your numbers regularly,” she says. “If you’re watching your blood sugar, you can get a prescription for a continuous glucose monitor to check your levels using your phone, and your health care provider can also access that information for continuity of care.”

Dr. Downing reminds us to get standard lab tests when possible for any ongoing concerns. When in doubt about a situation, urgent care facilities can be great resources since they’re staffed by professionals and usually have routine testing capacity and x-ray equipment; some even offer CT scans. Also, if you need to be admitted to the hospital, an urgent care referral can get you in more quickly.

On the Homefront

Not every ailment needs a medical consultation, of course. You can treat a sprained ankle with the classic RICE recipe: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. And you can take care of most colds, headaches, cuts, and scrapes with a properly stocked medicine cabinet and first-aid supplies. See a professional, though, for gaping wounds, deep punctures, problems breathing, persistent pain, high fever in seniors, fever with lethargy in children, and other serious symptoms.

These are items Dr. Downing suggests keeping handy:

Helpful devices

Room humidifier – to keep your nasal passages moist and less susceptible to microbial spread. “Either a hot or cool mist works,” Dr. Downing says, “whichever makes you feel better. I like to add an essential oil such as peppermint or eucalyptus for healing effect.”

Diffuser for essential oils – “Make sure you use high-quality oils for best results,” Dr. Downing says. “I often recommend lavender for its calming effects and benefits promoting restful sleep.”

Squeeze bottle – for irrigating a wound; more effective than running water.

• A well-stocked first-aid kit – with items such as antibiotic ointment, cold pack, bandages, latex gloves, pain reliever, wound sealant; replenish regularly.

Favorite home remedies

Time-honored, non-prescription treatments may have powerful healing powers. You probably have some of these in your house already.

Aloe vera plant – cut open a leaf and apply the gel to soothe minor burns, skin abrasions, psoriasis, acne, light wounds.

Chamomile tea – helps with digestion, reduces mouth pain, treats nausea and vomiting, promotes healthy sleep.

Echinacea – for its potential to help fend off colds and other ailments.

Epsom salts – add this to your bath to help reduce symptoms of arthritis, fibromyalgia, inflammation, psoriasis.

Eucalyptus essential oil – place a few drops in steaming water – removed from the heat source – and breathe in to relieve coughs and clear your chest.

Lavender essential oil – diffused to help relieve anxiety, stress, insomnia.

Melatonin – for insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Peppermint – contains menthol – when peppermint essential oil is diffused, it helps open the airways and is associated with relieving cough and congestion; as a tea, it helps soothe the digestive tract, reducing nausea; applied topically to the forehead, it can soothe headaches. Do NOT use it if you have acid reflux, as it can worsen symptoms, and NEVER apply to the face of a child under age 5, as it can cause the airway to spasm.

Raw honey – a teaspoon to soothe coughs; not for children less than a year old.

Tylenol – for headaches and other pain relief.

Vitamin C – may have preventive value; 500 – 3,000 mg a day, 500 mg at a time.

Vitamin D – for adults, consider 2000 IU daily. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of contracting Covid-19 and higher mortality rates from the virus.

Zinc lozenge – may reduce the length of a cold; can help heal wounds and keep the immune system strong.