These days, it has become all too common for people to reach for a pill bottle or call the doctor anytime something goes wrong, or even for the smallest scrape. The simple, wacky home remedies of our grandparents, those weird concoctions formed from everyday household goods, are often mocked by today’s medical establishment. But surprisingly, the truth is that our grandparents actually knew a lot more about the world than we give them credit for, and many of these old-fashioned folk remedies actually work. Not just that, but many of them work better than the synthetic pharmaceuticals that so many people stuff their bodies with today.
Here are 40 weird, wacky, but shockingly effective home remedies that still work today, and would make grandma proud.
1. Use Garlic and Olive Oil for Athlete’s Foot
Everyone knows about the many health benefits of garlic, but did you know that it can fix your athlete’s foot problem in a jiffy? Just mince some garlic cloves, mix them with natural olive oil, and then use bit of cotton to rub this mixture onto the affected area between the toes.
2. Potato Slices for Headaches
Headaches and/or migraines can ruin even the best day, but there is a weird natural solution that works: potato slices. Just cut a few slices from a raw potato, soak them in a very thin cloth, and apply them to your forehead or directly to the temples.
3. Ease Cuticle Infections with Vinegar
Done too much manicuring? Cuticles all torn up and infected? Make a glass of vinegar and warm water, then put your fingers in it for about 15 minutes. Repeat this procedure once a day or so until the infection fades away.
4. Use Vinegar to Cure Swimmer’s Ear
There’s nothing that ruins a good day at the beach like coming home with swimmer’s ear. But when your grandparents told you to drop some vinegar in your ears, they weren’t kidding. The acidic properties of vinegar can kill off that awful swimmer’s ear bacteria, leaving you feeling like yourself again. Just take out some white vinegar, dilute it with distilled water, and put three drops into the problematic ear, three times a day, until the problem fades.
5. Olive Oil for Eczema
Feeling itchy already? Eczema can make anyone grow crazy. But olive oil, which is full of antioxidants and often used as an ingredient in professional skin creams, isn’t just good for athlete’s foot: it can ease the symptoms of eczema as well. Simply rub some olive oil onto the eczema-affected areas of your skin, and it should help quite a bit.
6. Fix Hiccups with a Spoonful of Sugar
Yes, seriously. The legends are true. Don’t get too overzealous with it, because diabetes isn’t something to mess around with, but this old-fashioned trick will halt the hiccups in their tracks. The reason why is because the behavior we call “hiccups” are actually just spasms of your diaphragm, so having a spoon of dry sugar will throw off the nerve muscles and cure their agitation.
7. Get rid of warts with duct tape
It sounds crazy, but it works. Instead of going to all the work to get your warts frozen off, just covered them with duct tape. After cleaning a wart off, just apply a strip of the tape to the affected area, and then keep it there for three days. After that, remove, rub the wart area with a pumice stone, and then apply new tape. Continue this process every three days until the wart goes the way of the dinosaurs.
8. Treat Acne with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil might seem like the cool new kid on the block, but it’s actually an old-timer that’s been around since the 1800s. In addition to many other uses, coconut oil is an effective treatment for acne, since its antibiotic properties prevent further breakouts. Just apply coconut oil to the skin, maybe mixing it with a little raw honey.
9. Have a Little Yogurt for That Bad Breath
Bad breath, officially known as halitosis, is a terrible thing to live with. But the cure for it is right there in your fridge: yogurt. At least two servings a day of this probiotic wonder, ideally a plain brand with no sugar, changes the landscape of your tongue so that it won’t breed any more the bad bacteria that produces that distinctive stink.
10. Deal with bug bites by using toothpaste
Well, not technically the toothpaste itself, but rather, the peppermint oil inside the toothpaste: if you have the pure peppermint oil itself, that’s even more effective. Either way, applying peppermint oil to a bug bite—even if it’s just through dabbing on a little toothpaste – will immediately reduce the raw itchiness we all know too well.
11. Use Licorice to Eliminate Corns
Yes, licorice, everyone’s least favorite candy. But the one thing worse than licorice is having a corn on your toe. If you soak some licorice with oil, apply it all to the affected area, then wrap it tight under plastic wrap (and maybe a sock) for 6-8 hours—for instance, overnight—this will cause the licorice to soften the corn.
12. Ease Your Hangover with Apple Cider Vinegar
Drinking might be fun, but hangovers aren’t fun for anyone. But when you used to see grandpa downing a shot of apple cider vinegar after a night with his buddies, he knew what he was doing. Apple cider vinegar balances the pH levels in your stomach after a little too much alcohol throws it off. Just gulp down a teaspoon of this vinegar, or a small shot-glass. If you can’t take it straight, dilute it with some water.
13. Constipation with beets
The human body needs to eliminate waste, and when it gets all bunched up, major discomfort ensues. One home solution you may have heard from your grandparents was to eat some fresh-steamed beets, then drink the water they were steamed in. This should clear out your colon like magic. Just be warned that when you do go, your stools or urine may be bright red: nothing to worry about, just the natural dye of the beets.
14. Vodka for stinky feet
Having trouble with foot odor? Get some vodka. No, we’re not suggesting that you get drunk and avoid the problem. The key is that alcoholic is an antiseptic, which means it eliminates the fungus that causes foot odor, and dries your feet out. Just soak a thin cloth in some vodka, swipe your foot down, and feel the smell go away.
15. Mix Cumin, Honey, Cinnamon and Ginger for Diarrhea
A bad case of the runs can keep you up all night. Instead of taking drugs that will simply constipate you, thereby causing more stomach pains, a better natural remedy is to combine a teaspoon of cumin, and the same portion of honey, cinnamon, and ginger into a paste that you can drink.
16. Lemons for an Earache
Pain in the ears can be soothed by the application of freshly-squeezed lemons. Just squeeze a lemon onto a Q-tip, and delicately rub this just inside the ear to restore pH balance.
17. Stinging Nettle for Hair Loss
You can’t force hair to regrow once it’s already gone, but you can slow down the rate of hair loss through the use of stinging nettle, an herb often used for tea. Drinking stinging nettle tea a few times a day should help, and you can also massage stinging nettle itself in your scalp.
18. Cure Nausea with Olives
Whether it’s from motion sickness or an unpleasant sight, the familiar (but unpleasant) side effects associated with nausea can be cured by eating olives, due to the tannin inside them.
19. Potatoes for Spider Bites
If a spider managed to sink its teeth into you, ease the itching and swelling by shredding a potato, wrapping the pieces in cloth, and applying to the bite area. Note, this is a treatment for symptoms of a regular, non-deadly bite: if the bite comes from a more deadly spider, such as a black widow, seek immediate medical attention.
20. Raw Honey for Chapped Lips
Don’t ever waste your money on Chapstick again. Much has been said about the healing properties of raw, organic honey, but if your lips are chapped, you can simply apply honey to the affected area—rub it on, just as you would Chapstick—and it will do the job nicely, and taste better to boot. Just make sure the honey is both raw and organic.
21. Garlic for Allergies
For a more natural antihistamine when your nasal allergies act up, eat lots of garlic, whether it’s straight bulbs or slices on crackers. Garlic contains a lot of the antioxidant quercetin, which eases allergy symptoms. If there’s no garlic in the pantry, onions work as well.
22. Buttermilk and Ginger for Diarrhea
If you don’t have cumin on hand, another weird-but-effective home remedy for diarrhea is to mix half of a teaspoon of dry ginger into a cup of buttermilk, and drink it.
23. Treat Styes with Potatoes
If you haven’t noticed, potatoes are a lot more powerful than people realize. If you get a stye on your eye, just grate a potato, wrap the gratings in a cloth, and press to the affected area to ease inflammation.
24. Avoid Mosquitoes with Garlic
If you don’t want to get eaten alive with mosquitoes, enjoy a garlic-rich diet, because mosquitoes are totally repelled by garlic. For further protection, rub garlic oil on your skin. If it’s already too late, you can also ease the stinging of the bites with garlic as well.
25. Yams for Menopause
To up your dosage of vitamin A, lower your cholesterol, and add more antioxidants to your diet, start incorporating yams—real yams, not sweet potatoes—into your regular daily diet. This will help with common menopause symptoms.
26. Apples Help the Bowels
Apples are high in pectin, a naturally occurring fiber that both bulks up and softens stools. This means that apples are an effective treatment for both diarrhea and constipation. Just make sure to eat the skin too, which contains valuable ursolic acid.
27. Banana Peel for Poison Ivy
While bananas won’t prevent you from getting the allergic rash that 85% of the population contracts from touching poison ivy, they can help. Rub the inside of a banana peel against poison ivy rash for relief from the pain and itchiness.
28. Honey for Acid Reflux
As soon as the symptoms of acid reflux begin affecting you, swallow three spoons of honey, and it should help you achieve better digestion.
29. Blackstrap molasses for Constipation
If you suffer from frequent constipation, try injecting a little blackstrap molasses into your diet, whether as a coffee additive or an extra ingredient in cookies. This molasses should ease constipation, but be careful not to over-indulge, because too much molasses will increase constipation.
30. Pine Syrup for Sore Throats
You know what helps a sore throat? Pine needles. Yes, really. To make pine syrup, collect a cup of freshly-washed pine needles, and thoroughly blend them. Meanwhile, boil water, corn syrup, and a bit of salt, mix this with the needles, then steep for a few hours. Keep this syrup in the refrigerator for at least a month, then keep it on hand forever to treat sore throats.
31. DIY Cough Syrup
If you want to make a good cough syrup from the ingredients of your pantry, mix together ¼ teaspoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon of honey, and a few spoons of water. Mix it all together, and have 1-3 teaspoons to ease coughing symptoms.
32. Garlic for toothache
Nothing will keep you up at night like a bad cavity or an exposed nerve. While garlic won’t cure the underlying issue, chewing on garlic at night, particularly chewing whole cloves in the affected area, will ease pain tremendously.
33. Put on Wet Socks to Treat a Cold
Hear us out for a minute. To treat the symptoms of a common cold, begin by soaking your feet in hot water for at least three minutes – or just taking a bath. Meanwhile, soak a pair of your socks in ice water. Put the socks on your feet, cover them up with a pair of wool socks, and then go to bed. As you sleep with these horribly cold feet, the blood vessels will constrict, pushing nutrients up into your body to push out the infection.
34. Fix Dry Skin
To soften dry skin, break down two bananas and mix them with a bit of honey. Apply this paste to the skin, let it sit for about 20 minutes, and then wash it off, and your skin should feel softer.
35. Teabags for Burns
Get a cool-temperature, wet teabag, of any tea, and place it directly on the burned area. This won’t fix the burn, but it will relieve the pain almost immediately.
36. Oil Pulling
This might have become a trend recently, but it’s actually an old practice that our grandparents learned from their grandparents. Basically, enhance your dental routine by taking a spoonful of coconut oil – though other oils work as well – and swishing it in your mouth for five minutes a day, specifically pulling it through the teeth, and then spit it out into the toilet. The oil will “pull” all of the toxins out of the mouth, allowing you to spit them out in one go. When used in addition to standard brushing and flossing, oil pulling will help digestion, reduce gingivitis, prevent receding gums, get rid of bad breath, strengthen teeth, and much, much more.
37. Help Eczema with an Oatmeal Bath
If the horrendous itchiness of eczema still has you down, you can hugely reduce the itchiness by following your grandmother’s old advice taking a bath of oatmeal. There’s a reason that so many lotions and pharmaceutical eczema treatments contain oatmeal as an ingredient: it really works! For a home solution, just make a bath for yourself, fill it with colloidal oatmeal, and then soak for a while.
38. Stop Your Snoring
Is your snoring annoying your wife or husband? Try drinking a glass of warm milk with a teaspoon of turmeric powder added to it before bed, and hear your partner’s relief.
39. Basil Leaves and Ginger for Fever
Fevers are the body’s way of pushing out an infection, but when it’s time to cut back on the heat, here’s a home solution. Crush some ginger and basil leaves together into paste, then add a teaspoon of honey. Squeeze out the liquid, and then take a drink ever four hours or so.
40. Soak Golden Raisins in Gin for Arthritis
If there’s one thing that afflicted so many of our grandparents, it was the terrible swelling pains of arthritis. But they had a home remedy that still works today. Get some golden raisins, soak them in gin, and let it sit overnight until all of the gin has been soaked up. After this is done, eat about ten raisins a day. While this won’t fix the underlying problems of arthritis, it will greatly ease the symptoms.