Published on August 24, 2019

A Doctor's Take on Home Remedies

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When it comes to caring for the mind and body, many people turn to evidence-based integrative medicine approaches as part of their wellness routine. Integrative medicine treatments include botanical (plant-based) therapies, acupuncture, guided imagery and hypnosis, just to name a few. In fact, blending conventional and complementary medicine by using those therapies has numerous benefits for everything from anxiety and depression to urinary incontinence.

Sometimes, however, we’re tempted to open our kitchen cabinet to look for home remedies as a treatment or cure. Which home remedies actually work, and which ones can we chalk up to our grandparents’ overly enthusiastic, albeit well-intended, wisdom? Dr. Joseph Feuerstein of Stamford Health’s Center for Integrative Medicine & Wellness weighs in on a few of these popular home remedies.

1. Bad case of eczema? Rub olive oil on your skin.

Dr. Joe says: Don’t do it! A study was conducted with 19 adults: some of which had eczema and the remainder of which did not. They were put into two groups. One group put six drops of olive oil on their arms twice a day for 4-5 weeks and the other group used sunflower seed oil. The olive oil caused inflammation and damaged the skin integrity. The sunflower seed oil did not and, in fact, it improved hydration.1 Go with sunflower.

2. Feeling queasy? Smell a lemon.
Dr. Joe says: It actually works! 100 pregnant women who all had nausea were put into two groups. One group was given lemon essential oil to inhale whenever they were nauseous over a four-day period. The other group inhaled a placebo.
At the end of the study, the women who had inhaled the lemon oil had statistically significant reduced levels of nausea on the nausea scale compared to the women who used the placebo.2 

Woman with cucumbers over eyes. Home remedies that do and don't work3. Puffiness around the eyes? Cucumbers.

Dr. Joe says: While the studies aren’t strong, cucumber juice has substances that can reduce the irritation and swelling seen in inflammation. It also contains antioxidants like vitamin C that are important in reducing age-related damage to the skin from free radicals. Cucumber juice also contains a lot of water which helps hydrate and moisturize the skin.

Please note: While there’s no reason to believe any of these home remedies are harmful, your kitchen cabinet contents shouldn't replace valuable advice from your doctor. We encourage you to seek a professional medical opinion if you find yourself trying to treat any real, persistent symptoms.

References

1 Danby SG1, AlEnezi T, Sultan A, Lavender T, Chittock J, Brown K, Cork MJ. "Effect of olive and sunflower seed oil on the adult skin barrier: implications for neonatal skin care."
Academic Unit of Dermatology Research, Department of Infection and Immunity, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health, University of Sheffield Medical School, Sheffield, UK. January-February 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22995032. Accessed 21 August 2019.

2 Nazemiyeh, Hossein; Safajoi, Farzaneh; Shahnazi, Manhaz; Yavari, Parisa. "The Effect of Lemon Inhalation Aromatherapy on Nausea and Vomiting of Pregnancy: A Double-Blinded, Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial."
Iran Red Crescent Medical Journal, 5 March 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4005434/. Accessed 21 August 2019.

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