6 Home Remedies Actually Supported by Science

We’ve all been there. You don’t feel well, and you think maybe
you should see a doctor… but you don’t. Perhaps your local clinic is closed for the
night, or you can’t get someone to drive you, or maybe you’re just in the American
health care system. There are plenty of reasons people choose
to treat their injuries and illnesses at home. But, as regular SciShow viewers already know,
some at-home treatments cause more problems than they solve… Ding! In the comments of our episode debunking six
popular home remedies, a lot of you asked us if there are any that do work. Well, ask, and you shall receive! Here are 6 home remedies that are supported
by science. [ ♪ INTRO ] Prunes for Constipation If you’ve ever gone a few days without pooping,
you know it’s not terribly fun to be constipated. Luckily, it’s also pretty common knowledge
that a combination of fiber supplements and water will usually fix the issue. Keeping well-hydrated can soften your stool
so it’s easier to pass, and fiber helps by making your stool bigger so it’s easier
to push against. While more poop might seem like a bad idea
if you’re already stopped up, more bulk in the colon actually stimulates your bowels
to take care of business. And that’s where prunes come in. While you could get extra fiber from a concentrated
supplement, like I do, research shows that prunes are better at kick-starting spontaneous
bowel movements. Fiber supplements often use some form of psyllium
husk as the source of fiber. But in a 14-week crossover trial — the kind
where participants end up trying both treatments — a dissolvable psyllium supplement was
less effective at treating constipation than simply eating prunes. During the prune-eating part of the study,
the participants passed more frequent stools, and their stools were softer. Both of the options amounted to about 6 grams
of dietary fiber per day, so the researchers think there’s something else in the prunes
that increases their effectiveness. That extra something is probably sorbitol,
a substance found in prunes which stimulates water delivery to the colon. So if you’re stopped up, you might consider
some dried plums instead of a powder or a pill. But prunes cannot solve everything. They aren’t as effective if your constipation
is due to irritable bowel syndrome, for example — and they can even make IBS symptoms worse. So if prunes don’t help you get things moving,
it’s definitely time to check in with an actual doctor, not a YouTube video. Severe constipation can lead to much bigger
problems, like hemorrhoids or fecal vomiting, which we did an episode on. You can watch our episode on what happens
if you stop pooping completely if you really want to learn more about that. It’s not pretty. Oatmeal for Dry Skin People have been using oatmeal for skin conditions
for millenia. But unlike some ancient wisdoms, science actually
supports using oatmeal in skin care. It’s perhaps most well-known for its moisturizing
properties. That’s because oatmeal contains a lot of
starches which attract and hold onto water. When you put powdered oatmeal onto your skin,
these starches help create a viscous layer that traps moisture to keep your skin hydrated. And that’s not all oatmeal does. In human clinical trials, it reduces itchiness
and soothes irritated skin. Oatmeal contains a variety of components which
basically shut down inflammation — an immune response that can make your skin painful,
swollen, itchy and red. For example, it has chemicals called avenanthramides
in it. These can soothe itching by reducing the amount
of histamine released by your immune cells in your skin. And they, as well as other compounds in oatmeal,
can act as antioxidants, fighting against the damaging, highly-reactive molecules that
cause long-term skin damage. There is a slight catch, though. Researchers don’t just boil a pot of Quaker
Oats to use in these studies. They use colloidal oatmeal, which is oatmeal
ground to be so fine that it creates a special kind of gel when mixed with water. It takes some fancy machines and super tiny
sieves to make the stuff — things not found in probaby your kitchen. Luckily, colloidal oatmeal pretty commonly
sold in pharmacies. And though you can’t really make true colloidal
oatmeal at home, a good blender or food processor can grind oats well enough for a DIY oatmeal
bath, which honestly sounds lovely right now. Ginger for Morning Sickness Sure, babies are cute, but the process of
bringing one into the world can wreak havoc on the body. In particular, people who are pregnant often
experience nausea and vomiting. Why are you making this even harder? While this is frequently referred to as “morning
sickness”, it’s definitely not confined to mornings. And it tends to be worst in the first trimester,
but pregnancy is just the gift that keeps on giving, as some people feel sick basically
the whole time. Luckily, antiemetics — drugs that ease that
feeling of queasiness — are totally a thing. But some studies have raised questions about
how safe they are for a developing fetus. And, you know, that’s kind of your number
one concern when you’re pregnant. There is a safer alternative that you can
pretty easily get, though, and people have been using it for centuries: ginger. Trials have found that ground ginger has an
antiemetic effect, even in pretty small doses. And that might be because it contains compounds
that inhibit serotonin receptors in both your nervous system and in your gut. Since neurons with these receptors need to
fire to trigger the vomiting reflex, inhibiting these receptors can quell that pukey feeling. It doesn’t work 100% of the time, and head-to-head
studies have found it can be less effective than the best prescription antiemetics. But there aren’t really any safety concerns
with consuming ginger. Which is why even doctors often recommend
trying candied ginger or ginger drinks to see if they help get your nausea under control
before turning to a prescription. Garlic for Athlete’s Foot Fungi love moist, warm environments. And that is why tinea pedis, or athlete’s
foot, flourishes in that lovely space between all your toeses. The condition can be caused by several fungal
species, but in all cases, you know you’ve got a problem when your skin becomes scaly
and flaky. And athlete’s foot is super contagious — which
is why you should always use shower shoes in the locker room! There are several over-the-counter treatments,
but there might be good option already sitting in your pantry: garlic! [on FT] Usually, clearing up that gross toe fungus
involves putting a medicated powder or cream on the area, waiting a bit, then reapplying
until the fungus is gone. This kind of wash, rinse, repeat sometimes
goes on for weeks. But freshly-crushed garlic or garlic oil can
work in a matter of days. Garlic cloves have been used medicinally for
centuries, especially against infections. And they probably work so well because of
sulfur-containing compounds like allicin and ajoene — which also happen to be responsible
for that pungent, garlicky smell. These are made by a special enzyme when garlic
cells are damaged, so chopping or crushing the garlic is important. You can’t just pull like just a whole clove
in there, cross your fingers. You gotta get this stink out. These chemicals work by inhibiting some of
cellular machinery used by fungi and other pathogens. That ultimately means the fungi can’t build
the things they need for growth and survival, so they die. In fact, isolated ajoene has been in topical
athlete’s foot creams for years now because it’s so effective. So if you’re in a pinch, grab the garlic. Just make sure to keep the crushed garlic
you’ve rubbed on your feet separate from the stuff you prepped for your garlic bread. Soy for Hot Flashes Plenty of things about getting older are not
great. Along with creaky joints and less than reliable
eyesight, if you have ovaries, you get to deal with menopause. Usually somewhere in the fifth decade of life,
your body stops menstruating, and that’s accompanied by a bunch of hormonal changes. It’s basically puberty 2.0., but with hot
flashes: those joyful moments where you suddenly feel like you’re on fire and start sweating,
even though there is no reason to feel that way. It’s thought that they’re caused by a
decline in certain hormones, which is why hormone replacement therapy can help keep
things cool. But, there are some long term health risks
associated with that, so researchers are looking for alternatives. And they might have found one that you can
take at home. Soy isoflavones — chemicals found in soy
products — are plant based compounds that structurally resemble the hormone estrogen. Because of that, they can act like estrogen
in your body. And clinical studies have found they tend
to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes — especially when a particular isoflavone
called genistein is involved. But, that’s not to say you should go chug
a glass of soy milk the next time you feel flushed. Not only do studies vary in terms of dose
and delivery method, most agree that soy isn’t a quick fix. The benefit is gained after long-term supplementation,
usually for months. And, soy isoflavones aren’t as effective
as hormone replacement therapy. Still, if you’re experiencing hot flashes,
adding more soy to your diet could help. And you can always talk to your doctor if
it doesn’t do the trick. Lemongrass Oil for Cold Sores You may have heard that pretty much everyone
has herpes, and in a way that’s true. It’s estimated that about 90% of people
have had a cold sore at some point in their lives, and they’re usually caused by Herpes
Simplex Virus 1. When not replicating like crazy and causing
those painful blisters, the virus hides out in nerve cells. And because of that, like with other herpes
viruses, once you have it, you have it for life. So cold sores can’t be cured — but they
can be treated. Antiviral drugs like acyclovir can speed healing,
but they’re not cheap, and the virus can become resistant to them. So you might try something else the next time
a sore appears: lemongrass oil. Researchers have been experimenting with options
for treating herpes viruses for decades, including many essential oils. That’s the fancy term for oils extracted
from plants. Many of these can kill herpes viruses in a
petri dish, like the oils from lemon balm, tea tree, and peppermint plants. But in a 2003 study, it was lemongrass oil
that killed the most herpes viruses, and it worked at lower concentrations than the other
eleven essential oils tested. That might be because it contains a lot of
citral, which is what gives it that lemony scent. And in clinical trials, citral and extracts
from plants that contain citral have been found to reduce the severity and duration
of cold sores. Lemongrass oil has lots of other components
too, any of which might be helping it kill herpes viruses. But there is a caveat: human trials haven’t
been conducted with it specifically. So further research is needed to see whether
it works as well on a face as it does in a petri dish. Still, there’s enough evidence it might
work that it could be worth a try if you have some around. And if it doesn’t work, well, like, you’ll
smell nice though. Now, it’s worth reminding you all that I
am not a doctor, so none of this should be considered medical advice and you should totally
go see medical professionals if something is going wrong with your body even if you
don’t feel like it, because you are me and you’ve got a lot of stuff to do. The 6 remedies on this list do have science
supporting them — and that makes them a whole lot better than the ones we included
in that other episode. But ultimately, if your condition seems to
be headed south or you’re not happy with the results of your at-home treatment, go
seek professional advice. Because science has done amazing things for
healthcare, and we should all take advantage of that remarkable work. And also thanks for watching this episode
of SciShow! If you liked learning about these scientifically-supported
home remedies, you might like our episode on home remedies that don’t work. And if you want to learn more about medical
science from an actual doctor, you might like our sister channel Healthcare Triage. On it, Dr. Aaron Carroll answers all sorts
of questions about medicine, health, and healthcare. So check it out at YouTube.com/HealthcareTriage! [ ♪OUTRO ]

100 thoughts on “6 Home Remedies Actually Supported by Science”

  1. When I was younger my mum always forces my sister and I to drink a big mug of prune juice. She had to force us because it tastes really sour and I always have a stomachache afterwards. But yea it solves all constipation problems. It makes you poop like crazy and you feel like there is nothing left in you afterwards. As an adult I go after them on purpose when I have any constipation problem.

  2. L-Lysine for HSV-1 and HSV-2 outbreaks, as well as Herpes Zoster. I got shingles (Herpes Zoster,) at the age of 20! It was flaring up for about a week before I knew WTH was going on. I did take a "handful" of L-Lysine everyday for about a week. After three days, the blisters started to fall out (leaving lovely holes behind…). Gross, but it totally worked! And no, I'm not some mystic crystal person, lol!

  3. What about tea tree oil for athletes foot? Maybe I'm crazy, but it seemed to cure it for me and fast. Do you have any more home remedies? Maybe eating oysters for colds, as they are high in iron?

  4. Prunes dont work if they are preserved with sulfer dioxide, its an movement inhibitor intentionally added to dried fruits to stop diarrhea.

  5. I think lemongrass oil is fantastic & well worth trying. Just be very careful when applying it skin. Make sure it is sufficiently diluted & applied in the early evening, when you will stay out of the sun, or you physically cover the area so that you don't have a chance of sun exposure for a good 12 hours.

  6. I've found that pepto bismal made me vomit when i was sick as a kid but putting a few slices of ginger in hot water helped with heartburn and nausea. Nice to know it wasn't in my head. Thanks grandmom!

  7. Prunes aren't known for relieving constipation.

    They're known for giving people the shits.😱
    Being stopped up doesn't change that, so it works.

  8. I've had 3 cold sores in the last 3 months. Just ordered some lemongrass oil. I'm getting kinda desperate, tbh.

  9. In my experience of being constipated all the time I've found that using a tablespoon on fresh powdered psyllium husk stirred into a glass of water is much more effective than metamucil or other psyllium pills…

  10. My mum used garlic to treat warts I contracted from some contaminated playground equipment. Very effective!

  11. God bless Dr Osalu for his marvelous work in my life, I was diagnosed of HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS since 2010 and I was taking my medications, I wasn't satisfied i needed to get the HERPES out of my system, I searched about some possible cure for HERPES i saw a comment about Dr Osalu, how he cured HERPES with his herbal medicine, I contacted him and he guided me. I asked for solutions, he started the remedy for my health, he sent me the medicine within 3days. I took the medicine as prescribed by him and 2weeks later i was cured from HERPES contact him via email [email protected] once again thanks to you Dr Osalu. cure the flowing virus, contact his email or add him on whatsapp +2348078668950

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  12. Cold Sores: Eat a few bites or half of an orange peel for 3 days. White part is a bio -flavonoid, helps to absorb more Vit C and prevent herpes break outside. Works much faster than abreiva.

  13. My parents tell me that my mother had morning sickness when she was pregnant with me, from the day she got pregnant, til the day after I was born.

  14. For that gotta-hurl-right-now from the back of the throat in seasickness, the taste of a green apple on the tongue quashes it immediately. We were crossing the Atlantic on a certain cruise ship's maiden voyage when the weather turned bad. 36-foot seas. The staff handed out slices of green apple. Totally amazing. But they already knew the effect.

  15. Sorbitol is in some stuff as an artificial sweetener and causes sudden bouts of bowel movements/diarrhea. I found this out the hard way.

  16. Isn't Sorbitol what they used in some cooking oils that caused anal leakage? Or was that gum? Or mints?
    Also…people who are pregnant? Okay…
    So is it people with menopause, too?

  17. It is important to note that ginger can cause CONTRACTIONS — it has been used to stimulate periods before. So you should NOT take large amounts of ginger for morning sickness. It can cause you to miscarry due to contractions.

  18. I can't help but notice that when talking about reproductive system things (menopause, pregnancy) you used gender neutral language. I don't know if you did that on purpose, but speaking as a trans person, I noticed and appreciated it.

  19. Hydrogen peroxide stopped my cold sore and I haven´t had a recurrence in two years. As the treatment is external I used the "not for internal use 3%" sold in supermarkets.

  20. I've got a lot of fungi in my back, torso and shoulders. Doctor said the only problem is that it's not aesthetic. It's not a problem to my health. But it's becoming anoying, so I guess this time I'll try to rub some garlic. Yeah, I'm gonna stink. Will come back later to share my results if you're interested.

  21. The oatmeal thing doesn't just work for humans it works for doggos too! So if your pupper has itchy or dry skin just. Give them an oatmeal bath.

  22. Outpatient back surgery. small stuff. Healthnet added 3 times $345 in copays (to the 3 x $20 copays that were stated in the contract, without any explanation and 3 weeks after the fact:
    That's S1100 in MEDICARE FRAUD. I'm 67, on medicare and social security. $800 per month to live on in California. So…should I have the two procedures, and (maybe) end 4 years of neglect?? The ultrasonic only procedure will kill certain lumbar spinal nerves to quell my back, broken and awaiting treatment since 2015. Home remedies huh? Right. Food and Rent or Medical Care?
    Permanent PAIN or Bankruptcy: which would YOU choose?


    Prune juice works 1000x better than laxatives. Plus laxatives can cause aweful cramps that will have you begging people around you to drive you to the hospital. I had to take methadone for awhile which is known for causing aweful constipation and the only thing that ever worked without pain was prune juice or insoluble dietary fiber along with hydration. With prune juice if you just drink about a cup or 2 the next day or that night you'll have a bowel movement and be back on track. Then adding more fiber to your diet with some Greek yogurt will keep you regular. But one of the most important things of all is to stay hydrated. Your digestive system needs to be hydrated or you can get yourself in even more trouble. So always and I mean this, always drink plenty of water with fiber supplements or foods high in insoluble fiber. So here's the summary, wanna not be constipated?
    1. Stay away from laxatives unless your goal is cramps that hurt so bad you'll want to scream.
    2. Stay hydrated, each time your in the kitchen or every hour or so fill a small glass and drink it. If your like I was you never feel thirsty but that's because your body has stopped telling you your thirsty and entered into a water retaining state cause you don't hydrate enough. A sign your having trouble with this is feeling bloated often and not feeling thirsty. There is no substitute for water (Not tea, fruit drinks, flavored water, and especially not Gatorade which can make you sick from electrolyte poisoning. Not to mention the fact that whoever thought drinking a sugary fruit drink during exercise was a total moron. Unless the goal is cramps, in which case they nailed it) . I only drink water now and feel much better for it. I'm not saying you should but just remember to enjoy a meal with your drink of choice but hydrate with water.
    3. Prune juice, drink as much as you'd like but all you should need is a cup(a literal cup/measuring cup) or two a day. Drink a cup or 2 for a few days and you'll go from no bowel movements to multiple movements per day but it won't ever feel forced or painful. Once your back to "normal"….
    4. Add more insoluble fiber into your diet (bananas, oatmeal, fiber bars, but remember extra water should go along with any fiber supplements). And Greek Yogurt will help sustain healthy gut bacteria which in turn makes you more "regular".And again keep drinking enough water, at least a couple glasses a day. After a week of forcing yourself to drink a little water here and there your body will start telling you when your thirsty again.
    5. If you've done all that and see no change (highly unlikely) then you probably have another issue that you should see a doctor for. But one more thing I'll recommend is stool softeners. These unlike laxitives won't cause cramping. They work by drawing water into your digestive system which as previously mentioned is very important for regular healthy bowel movements. And helps still to pass through.

  24. If you have athlete's foot rub some bleach on your feet before you take a shower, no more athletes foot.

  25. Uhm, most medicine developed in the 1900's was synthesizing plant extracts. The same ones that have been used in apothecaries the world over. While ancient herbalist attributed the plants ability to some supernatural force instead of chemistry, positive results were often seen. Later we discovered the chemical reactions and microbials we know today but the results are the same. People in ancient Rome said spending time outside worshiping their Sun God would result in said god bestowing happiness upon you, now science says that spending moderate time outside in the sun helps the body produce/process vitamin D (which promotes emotional stability leading to increased happiness)–reasons vary but results are the same. Just saying while listening to old herbal wisdom exclusively is not recommended, dismissing all holistic advice out of hand is not wise either.

  26. I had a .. well what I believe was a Infected hair follicle.i never went to the doctor. So I used heavy doses of garlic pills and oil of oregano pills. I heard they both are highly antibacterial, antifungal. I used the treatment and cleaned the wound regularly. I didn't know what it was the 1st week so I got a really bad fever and the bacteria was some type of flesh eating kind . I have a dent in the skin where it was. It looks like something took a little bite off my face. But I treated it my self and was proud of my self. Sometimes I just wish I knew what I had.

  27. So indonesian style chickensoup? It contains ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chicken to get your protein up, sambal to get your blood vessels dialated & the hot steam to fix your cold.
    If this doesnt work try Oatmeal with prunes and cranberries (contain an acid that helps prevent bladderinfection& kidneystones) the next morning

  28. I'm Catlady Redd and I'm a 57 year young lady and I am lucky to like stewed prunes. I also make them fresh and tasty. To this day, my grandchildren come to my house and ask for them!!

  29. Short story time:

    I jut moved into my first apartment, sitting on the floor building a chair eating some fruit. Ate like 60% of the container, then for the next three days more or less I was pooping my brains out. Guess what fruit I was eating, and had forgotten the side effects of said fruit.

  30. I unapologetically swear by Ashwaganda during menopause, and lavender oil on burns within a minute of the burn. Out of the thousands of crap ideas I've tried and tossed, I got 2. Take 'em or leave 'em.

    Oh, and clean houses, particularly bedrooms… and kitchens… and bathrooms are a wonderful antidote to menopausal irritability.

  31. Lysol spray disinfectant for athlete's foot. Works first time every time. But – it BURNS! And after it burns your itching is OVER.

  32. There’s another good home remedy for mild nausea. Peppermint. Peppermint tea or Starlight mints flavoured with peppermint oil/extract are great at calming a queasy stomach. I generally keep both around the house for precisely that reason.

  33. "American healthcare system"

    As opposed to what? The horrendously overpacked UK healthcare system? The healthcare system built on the stolen money of the poor in Sweden? The sketchy healthcare system of Haiti?

    I'll stick with the United States of America. Thanks though.

  34. In Denmark ginger, or rather ginger pills and shots, are discouraged for pregnant women due to some development risks for the baby.

  35. Please, please PLEASE do a video on how dumb essential oils are(especially young living) so i can get my son's mom to stop putting then all over in diffusers, all over my son's body and making him ingest them to treat EVERYTHING. It scares me and no matter what I bring to her attention she tells me I'm wrong. For God Sake, Young living is a MLM!!!

  36. Wow, didn’t expect oatmeal to have antioxidants. I’ll be checking for colloidal oatmeal on my next shopping trip!

  37. Lemons helped me with my nausea when I was pregnant. I later found out many other women ate lemons when they felt nauseated.

  38. Hey Sci show.
    The best athletes foot cure that I've found is to walk on the beach barefoot. The sand removes dead skin and the saltwater kills the fungus.

  39. There's an old wives tale in my family that if you have a wart or cyst on your hand to get rid of it someone else has to slam a bible on top of it, which I guess would work but would be pretty damn painful lol

  40. Athlete foot responds immediately to one application of pure TeaTree oil. Yes one application. It works so well people try not to believe it. You might be told it couldn't but they won't try it. Just in case it does, buy a tiny bottle that releases a drop at a time. That's enough. One tiny drop once.

  41. Well, I AM an MD/ I agree with prunes up to a point, since it may provoke diarrhea (psyllum doesn't). I agree with oatmeal. I disagree with ginger; I prefer Emetrol (OTC). Garlic is very irritating to the skin; I have seen actual burns from it. Terbinafine cream is much better. I disagree with soy and lemongrass, and acyclovir is not expensive at all.

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