When you think about alternative medicine and home remedies, you may have lots of questions: Are these treatments effective? How do they work? "Mayo Clinic Book of Alternative Medicine and Home Remedies" aims to answer them. It explains how to treat common health problems at home and when to use certain remedies. You’ll also find information on how to tell if your symptoms are a sign of a medical emergency and when it’s time to get your doctor involved.


But you should limit use to a day or two. When used too much, OTC nasal decongestants can lead to a complication called rhinitis medicamentosa (RM), also known as rebound rhinitis. This condition is characterized by nasal congestion that is triggered by the overuse of topical vasoconstrictive medications, especially intranasal decongestants, says Raj Dasgupta, MD, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
While you may have heard that gargling with apple cider vinegar has a similar effect, you should probably steer clear of this tactic for now, says Dr. Comer. “There is little doubt that apple cider vinegar has antibacterial and possibly antifungal properties in lab studies, but whether or not this translates into helping viral or bacterial sore throats is unknown,” he explains. “Additionally, there are potential significant issues to extended use of vinegar with the tooth enamel—vinegar is acidic, and repeated use can damage tooth enamel.”
Alternatively, make a steam bowl. To do this, fill a large bowl with hot water. Add herbs or essential oils, such as eucalyptus or rosemary, which may also relieve decongestion. Lean over the bowl and place a towel over the head. This traps the steam. Inhale the vapors for 5 minutes. If the steam feels hot on the skin, discontinue until the skin cools down.
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Dan I would like to comment on your statement of potentcy. The standard for pharmaceuticals is measured in miligrams which varies in potentcy by numbers obviously the higher the number, the higher the dosage, the stronger the potentcy. The higher the miligram for one person could kill another. For example I'm on 10 miligrams of methadone this same dosage given to you could possibly put you in the hospital with an overdose causing some kind of complication. What I'm trying to get at is how does one measure the potency of herbal medicine?

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Ask around like we did and sure enough you begin to acquire a valuable database of folk remedies. Everyone we asked had a home remedy or two; a grandmother's remedy to cure gout (apple cider vinegar), a sister's Ayurvedic remedy to stop diarrhea within minutes (turmeric), an old Mexican cure for a nagging cough (garlic). Thrilled to have this treasure chest of recipes to cure acute and chronic conditions, we started to post these remedies on Earth Clinic back in 1999. Not long after that, our readers started responding with their own family remedies. If you don't see what you're looking for in this Home Remedies section, please check out our extensive Ailments section.
In general, a viral infection usually comes with other symptoms, like muscle aches and fatigue, along with your sore throat, says Chester Griffiths MD, an otolaryngologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. With a bacterial infection, on the other hand, the pain is usually more focused on your throat and the soreness tends to be pretty severe, Dr. Griffiths says. You may also have intense pain when you swallow, along with a high fever.

Salt water is a great home remedy for sore throat, as it can reduce swelling and calm inflammation and irritation. It may also help draw infections or irritants to the surface of your throat, where your body is better able to deal with them. Dissolve 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water and gargle every hour or two, advises Mia Finkelston, MD, a Maryland-based family physician who also treats patients via LiveHealth Online.


The principles of Ayurveda can be applied in lots of different ways. In "Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life," Dr. Claudia Welch uses them to help women restore balance to hormones. She explains that high stress levels, lack of sleep, and an unhealthy diet can cause hormones to get off balance. Dr. Welch provides tools from the ancient medicine practice and explains how you can use them.
Crush a few fresh strawberries into a scrubbing pulp that you mix with a pinch of stain-removing baking soda and enough water to make a paste. Apply the mixture to a soft-bristled toothbrush and polish for a few minutes once every 3 or 4 months. (More often can erode tooth enamel.) The astringent malic acid in strawberries helps buff coffee and red-wine stains from teeth. (Here are 4 more foods that whiten teeth naturually.)
This is dangerous and doesn’t work -- don’t do it. The idea is, you place the unlit end of a lit, hollow candle into your ear, and that draws out the wax. But several things can go wrong: It can push earwax deeper in, candle wax can get inside your ear, it can puncture your eardrum, or it can burn your ear canal, face, scalp, or hair. See your doctor if you think you have a problem with earwax.
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