THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
A stiff neck results from slowed circulation and lymph flow to muscle tissues. Use contrast hydrotherapy—a quick blast of hot, then cold water—to get the blood pumping again. In the shower, first run hot water over your neck for 20 seconds to increase blood flow, then switch to cold for 10 seconds to constrict blood flow. Alternate three times, always ending with cold. When you get out of the shower, your body will send the blood back out to the skin, which results in a final dilation of blood vessels and—voilà!—a looser neck.
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.
Gargle with a small cup of acidic lemon juice to kill odor-causing bacteria. Then eat a bit of plain unsweetened yogurt, which contains beneficial lactobacillus bacteria. These so-called probiotics compete with and replace the reeking bacteria. (They also make you prettier—check it out!) The lemon-yogurt combo instantly neutralizes odor and lasts 12 to 24 hours.
Anyone who calls herbs hazardous is totally misinformed. Every year the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) compiles statistics on accidental deaths from drugs, herbs, vitamins, and other supplements. The AAPCC’s most recent report (2008) records 1,756 accidental poisoning deaths. How many were attributable to medicinal herbs? Zero. In every accidental death caused by a pharmacological agent, the culprit was a pharmaceutical. And it’s been that way for many years. Herbs are safer than drugs.
Try relaxing magnesium (200 to 400 mg) to reduce the muscle tension and spasms that can cause your noggin to throb. But not any type will do. Make sure the supplement contains at least 200 mg of active elemental magnesium. Because magnesium is more preventive than curative, the treatment works best on, say, premenstrual headaches because you can predict when they're coming and take a dose a day in advance. Those with kidney problems should consult a health care practitioner before taking magnesium. (Here are 3 more natural remedies for your headache.)
Dr. Pursell—a licensed acupuncturist and board-certified naturopathic physician—has worked with medicinal herbs for more than two decades, and she has trained herbalists all over the world. Backed by research and expertise, this comprehensive and visually appealing introduction to plant-based medicine is the perfect place to start learning about natural remedies.
Mint has been used for hundreds of years as a health remedy. Peppermint oil might help with irritable bowel syndrome -- a long-term condition that can cause cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation -- and it may be good for headaches as well. More studies are needed to see how much it helps and why. People use the leaf for other conditions, too, but there’s very little evidence it helps with any of them.