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.
Before bedtime, eat a handful of cherries (or drink tart cherry juice), which scientists discovered are jam-packed with melatonin, the same hormone created by your body to regulate sleep patterns. Then steep yourself in a hot bath to relax your muscles and your mind. In bed, rest your head on a lavender-filled pillow—the fragrance induces sleepiness. (Bonus: Cherries can help prevent gout attacks.)
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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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.