Easy at-home cures for common ailments.

By Jennifer R. Beck


Simple Solution: Drink ginger tea. It warms the body and settles the digestive tract, but make sure the tea you're brewing contains actual ginger. To make your own: Add 1/4 cup fresh grated gingerroot to 2 cups of water and boil for five minutes. Strain out the ginger before drinking.

Sore Throat

Simple Solution: Gargle. Fill an 8-ounce glass with warm water and mix in 1 teaspoon of table salt. Gargle for at least one to two minutes every few hours until symptoms go away. If pain persists for more than a day or two, make an appointment with your doctor for a strep test.

Common Cold

Simple Solution: Try using a chest rub. A balm that's made from eucalyptus and/or mint (you can find one at your local drugstore) will ease congestion and can help break down phlegm in the nose and chest. Apply 2 to 3 teaspoons to the chest up to three times a day.


Simple Solution: Give your nose a quick spritz. If you have mild seasonal allergies skip the OTC pills and try an inexpensive saline nasal spray. Use it two to three times a day to clear up the nasal passageways and break up dry mucus. For more serious allergies, see a doctor.

Stiff Neck

Simple Solution: Grab a warm washcloth. Applying heat to the neck increases circulation and loosens the muscles. Then very slowly move your neck through its full range of motion — first forward, then to each side and finally back — until the entire area is less tense.


Simple Solution: Apply some heat. Wrap a hot water bottle in a towel or grab a heating pad and place it on the lower abdomen. Heat relaxes the body and increases blood flow to the area where it is applied. You should feel some relief within about 30 minutes.

Achy Muscles

Simple Solution: Relax for 15 minutes in a soothing bath. After you fill your bathtub with warm water, add 2 cups of Epsom salt. The magnesium contained in the salt can reduce inflammation and ease pain. It's also an electrolyte that helps ensure proper muscle, nerve, and enzyme function.


Simple Solution: Take a nap. Pull the shades, turn off any noise, and give your brain a chance to rest. If you can't sneak in a few zzz's, apply Tiger Balm (found in Chinese or health food stores) to the temples and the back of the neck in a circular motion. The menthol, camphor, and oils in the balm all increase blood flow and ease discomfort.

Kid Care

  • Skinned knee. Clean with peroxide, apply a "triple antibiotic" ointment to kill bacteria, and cover with a bandage.
  • Getting the wind knocked out. Take your kid to a quiet spot so he can relax. Have him sit or lie down and focus on breathing.
  • Bloody nose. With your child sitting in a chair and her head level (not tilted forward or back), gently pinch together her nostrils near the tip of the nose. Hold for three to five minutes until the bleeding stops.


Birgit Rakel, M.D., a physician at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.

Lolita McDavid, M.D., a pediatrician at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland.

Rick Kellerman, M.D., president of the American Academy of Family Physicians and a physician in Wichita.

Copyright © 2007. Used with permission from the September 2007 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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