Since the beginning of recorded time, mankind has indulged in a variety of peculiar methods related to remedying his ailments. From blood-sucking leeches to mercury-poured directly into the urethra, there seems to be no limit to the quackery practiced by our ancestors. Still, we can’t be too harsh on them – oftentimes our own urban myths lead us to believe in remedies that are quite strange.
Nevertheless, there are certain things that we might be surprised to learn actually are functioning remedies. From alcohol to acupuncture, here are 12 things that might shock you to learn are actual strange remedies:
When many people think of alcohol, they think of bottles lining the bar, of college parties, or maybe of a fine wine or a nice whiskey paired with dinner. However, alcohol has long been used for medicinal purposes, with first recorded use dating as far back as 5,000 years ago. A century ago, alcohol was actually still considered a legitimate medicine, though it was used to treat many ills it didn’t actually remedy.
Nowadays, alcohol’s been studied more closely and its role has been refined mainly to use as an antiseptic, found in the likes of mouthwash, for example. Still, many home remedies calling for alcohol, including using vodka or rubbing alcohol to treat poison ivy, rubbing it on your smelly feet, using it to remove warts & cold sores, and also for acne treatment. While you still may want to think twice before drinking it, remember to apply alcohol the next time your feet stink!
While alcohol isn’t the only food-based remedy on this list, it’s certainly the food-based remedy which could just as easily be considered unhealthy as it is healthy. Onions, on the other hand, are quite possibly the healthiest food on this list, if not of all time. Seriously. Onions contain an antioxidant flavonoid called quercetin, which helps to reduce allergies, asthma, hay fever, risks of heart disease, cholesterol, and even cancer. Eat more of them to experience the health benefits.
One thing to remember: placing onions in a bowl to “pull” and “trap” bacteria out of the air isn’t actually a good remedy for anything – stick to eating them and applying them to honeybee stings and bug bites.
3. Acupuncture & Cupping
One thing that onions have in common with needles? They both make me cry. Jokes aside, acupuncture has long been used as a form of alternative medicine, in which needles are placed along meridian lines in the body. Through these lines, Qi (pronounced “chee”) is supposed to flow, and the needles help balance that energy out.
Alternatively, if you watched the 2016 Rio Olympic games, you may have seen athletes with large red circles on their bodies, signs of another form of alternative medicine utilizing meridian lines: cupping. Instead of needles, cupping uses heated glass jars that are cleared of oxygen and suctioned to the body. This is supposed to create blood flow in the local area, and it is believed by some to help treat pain, deep scar tissues in the muscles and connective tissue, muscle knots, and swelling.
It’s important to note that many alternative medicines like acupuncture and cupping are actually considered pseudoscience, meaning that the “healing power” people tend to feel may stem from the placebo effect. Either way, people swear by these medicines, and strange things are at work here that need to be studied!
When it comes to the power of the mind or at least the power of mindfulness, you won’t get far without mentioning meditation.
While you may not learn how to levitate off the floor, just a few minutes of meditation a day can help to reduce stress. Stress is no frivolous concern, either. Recent research performed by the American Psychological Association shows that 51 percent of women and 43 percent of men in America experience negative side effects of chronic stress, which can even lead to death. It’s not just stress that’s impacted by meditation, however. A neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Sara Lazar, recently found that meditation may actually help grow your brain.
It’s customary in Northern European culture to hit the sauna at least once a day, and you’d be considered a weirdo if you’ve never been in one. Some people believe that saunas offer great health benefits such as cleansing the skin and flushing toxins. What’s for sure is that saunas make you sweat, can help you burn more calories, and, like meditation, help reduce stress.
It’s imperative to remember that, while relaxing and healthy, saunas can be dangerous if not used properly. Dr. Harvey Simon writing for Harvard Men’s Health Watch suggests that sauna users follow these simple precautions:
- Avoid alcohol and medications that may impair sweating and produce overheating before and after your sauna.
- Stay in no more than 15–20 minutes.
- Cool down gradually afterward.
- Drink two to four glasses of cool water after each sauna.
- Don’t take a sauna when you are ill, and if you feel unwell during your sauna, head for the door.
6. Essential Oils
Throughout history, human beings have turned to aromatherapy to cure their ills. There are way too many essential oils to list, and their uses are varied, from using tea tree oil to combat lice and acne, vitamin E oil and frankincense to treat stretch marks, and lavender for cuts, bruises, and scrapes, there’s an essential oil for almost everything. Peppermint is one of the most widely used plants for these oils, and has been for a long time – in fact, peppermint’s ability to sooth the stomach is why you will commonly receive a complimentary mint after dinner in the U.S.
7. Hemp & Cannabidiol
Hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) are two ingredients of the cannabis plant that represent the non-psychoactive baby thrown out with the bathwater. Unfortunately, because CBD is a derivative of the cannabis plant, making its production and possession illegal, there hasn’t been much research done on it – but many have claimed that CBD extracts can help to treat both epilepsy and psychosis.
While the various uses of CBD will have to wait awhile to be teased out, hemp hearts, which are legal to use and come from different parts of the cannabis plant, are extremely rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, and may even prevent Alzheimer’s. Additionally, hemp seeds are one of the few sources of Omega-3 that can actually be found in plants.
If there’s one thing on this list that you literally couldn’t live without, that thing would be sleep. Still, just getting a few hours a night doesn’t always cut it. A lack of sleep can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and obesity, and has been linked to lower testosterone and sex drive. Those with good sleeping patterns have also been reported to have improved memory.
If you have trouble sleeping, try changing up the position that you sleep in. There are generally pros and cons to each, such as elevating the head for those with acid reflux, or sleeping on the stomach for those who snore – but the good news is this: no matter what position you’re sleeping in, you’re doing your body some good.
Music has always been seen as a mystical sort of thing, probably because in the early ages there were no scientific processes to show that music releases dopamine in the brain, making the listener happier.
The ability of music to produce subtle effects on the body has been exploited by mainstream media and marketing – but that doesn’t mean you can’t hack your own body too (musically speaking). Listen to more motivating music to run faster, improve visual and verbal skills, and even reduce depression. Music has even been shown to reduce pain and anxiety of patients during surgery and has been used in muscle rehabilitation training. Crazy!
10. Fermented… Anything
Some say that the stomach is the “second brain.” Our mood can be influenced by our foods – as can our health – so it goes without saying that eating the best will leave us feeling the best. Fermented foods are packed with health benefits that leave your second brain feeling great.
The reason that foods like yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, and kimchi – fermented foods – are considered so beneficial to health is that they contain live culture that can create beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, and probiotics from the original food. Pairing healthy fermented foods with your normal diet can help you absorb nutrients by balancing and optimizing your gut flora. So eat up!
11. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is often used to pickle and sometimes used to ferment things, so it comes as no surprise that it’s used as a remedy and offers amazing health benefits.
Among apple cider vinegar’s benefits:
- Sore throats can be cured by taking a shot of apple cider vinegar, because the bacteria in the throat can’t survive the pH of the vinegar.
- Stuffy noses and the mucus they produce can also be thinned out with this wonderful liquid.
- If you take a rag and apply it to the afflicted area, apple cider vinegar acts as a muscle relaxer.
- Apparently, apple cider vinegar is great for combating diarrhea.
- Using two parts apple cider vinegar and one part baking soda, you can make toothpaste with it!
12. Chicken Soup
Last but not least, the most common remedy of all: chicken soup. Yes, your mother used to make it for you when you were a kid and had a cold, but that’s just one of those “old wive’s tales” that chicken soup will make you feel better… right?
Actually, no! Chicken soup boosts your vitamin A and selenium intake, which both support proper thyroid gland function. Selenium can help to produce cancer-fighting enzymes to boot, while vitamin A boosts the growth of red blood cells. For healthiest results, try to make the soup yourself and to choose low-sodium ingredients. Now, the next time you get sick, you have the science to back up your request for poultry-infused vegetable and chicken juice!