10 Natural Home Remedies You Can Find in Your Kitchen

Searching for natural remedies? These foods can help a variety of ailments.

You may already know that consuming the right foods can boost your intake of minerals, vitamins, and nutrients. But there are a few foods that could alleviate some of your most pesky daily problems, from hiccups to rashes caused by eczema. 

Though, keep in mind that serious health conditions need the attention of a healthcare provider. But it might not hurt to reach for one of the following foods the next time you have a minor health concern.

Apples for Heartburn

Avoiding trigger foods like soda, high-fat beef, and anything fried is one of the best ways to deal with acid reflux. But one food that you should keep in your diet is apples. 

"Apples have pectin, a soluble fiber that's really great at absorbing stomach acid," Wayne Andersen, MD, medical director of Take Shape for Life, a weight loss program from Medifast, told Health. Plus, the fruit contains two types of acid (malic and tartaric) that beat back any juices flowing up from your stomach.

"Buy organic red or delicious golden apples that are sweeter than the tart granny smiths," suggested Dr. Andersen. "Sweet apples are considered alkaline foods that work at a cellular level to restore pH balance and prevent GERD."

Calcium-Rich Foods for Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

You're not alone if you're irritable and have mood swings before your period. Over 90% of people who menstruate experience at least one PMS symptom each month. But the good news is that tweaking your diet might help lessen your symptoms. 

"It's been shown that people with PMS have lower blood calcium levels than those without PMS," Mary Rosser, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Montefiore Medical Center, told Health.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that adults consume about 1000–1200 milligrams of calcium daily based on age. Calcium-rich foods include:

  • Dairy products 
  • Broccoli
  • Leafy greens
  • Sardines

Cranberries for Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

Cranberries contain proanthocyanidins, a compound that fends off the bacteria that cause UTIs. 

"E. coli is one of the top offenders in triggering a UTI," said Dr. Rosser. "This substance has been shown to prevent infection by keeping the bacteria from attaching to the bladder walls."

Cranberries probably won't clear up your infection if you already have a UTI. But consuming cranberries may help protect against future infections. Cranberries may help prevent bacteria from attaching to cells in the wall of the urinary tract and causing infection. 

As many as four in 10 women who get a UTI will get at least one more within six months. So, drinking one to two glasses a day of 20% pure cranberry juice may help prevent a recurrence, said Dr. Rosser.

Cucumbers for Puffy Eyes

Laying cold cucumber slices over your eyes may look a little silly. Still, the age-old beauty trick does reduce puffiness. 

Cucumbers, which are 95% water, offer a nice cooling sensation. The cold temperature causes blood vessels to constrict and reduce inflammation. And there's a reason why cucumbers work even better than ice packs.

"Cucumber slices perfectly fit to the contours of your eyes to help reduce swelling," Kavita Mariwalla, MD, a New York-based dermatologist. Cut your cucumber into quarter-inch slices, relax, and leave them on your eyes for 10 minutes for fresh-looking eyes.

Ginger for Menstrual Cramps

For more than 2,000 years, traditional Chinese medicine has relied on ginger

"Ginger can improve blood flow and reduce inflammation in your muscles, including those in the uterus where cramps originate," said Dr. Rosser. 

In fact, one meta-analysis published in 2021 in Cureus, which screened a total of 638 studies, found that ginger is more helpful for relieving menstrual pain than a placebo. So, try brewing a warm ginger tea to make your period more bearable.

Oatmeal for Eczema

Calm itchy, inflamed skin using this hallmark breakfast food. Oatmeal soothes rashes since it packs phytochemicals that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Create a soothing bath by grinding one-third of a cup of plain, unflavored oatmeal into a fine powder using your blender. Pour the powder into lukewarm water and stir in evenly with your hands until the water is a milky color, suggested Dr. Mariwalla. 

Another option: use one-fourth of a cup of oatmeal and enough water to make a paste that you can apply directly to the skin for 10 minutes, said Dr. Mariwalla.

Prunes for Constipation

Dried plums are rich in insoluble fiber, a key nutrient to help fight constipation

"Insoluble fiber doesn't dissolve in water and creates more bulk, so waste can push through the digestive system," said Dr. Andersen. Prunes also contain two substances that act as natural laxatives (sorbitol and dihydroxyphenylalanine). Those substances will work better for your system over time than drugstore constipation aids.

"The body can become desensitized over time to over-the-counter [OTC] laxatives," said Dr. Andersen. So, start with just one prune a day first. Then, bump your intake to two if you don't see a response.

Sea Salt for Dry Skin

You don't need an expensive skincare product to treat rough patches on your knees, elbows, and heels. A sea salt scrub made at home will work just as well. 

"Sea salt is a good exfoliator because it has thicker grains that do a good job of clearing away dry skin," said Dr. Mariwalla.

All you have to do is mix one cup of sea salt with half a cup of light massage oil. 

"Use a bowl to make sure the mixture stays moist, like wet sand, and not runny," said Dr. Mariwalla. 

But keeping that scrub away from your more sensitive areas, like your face and the back of your arms, is best. Sea salt can be harsh on the skin that doesn't require as much exfoliation.

Sugar for Hiccups

When you hiccup, the diaphragm undergoes a series of spasms. But you can fool your body into stopping that reaction by putting a teaspoon of sugar underneath your tongue.

The sweet sensation is strong enough to stimulate the vagus nerve, the longest cranial nerve in your body. The vagus nerve starts at your brain stem, extending as far down as your diaphragm to control the stomach.

"Keep the sugar under your tongue until you stop hiccupping. And then swallow to fill the back of your throat with even more sensation," said Dr. Andersen.

Turmeric for Infections

In India, many people revere turmeric as a "holy powder" that you can use to prevent infections and treat wounds. Well, a compound called curcumin is to thank for that. 

"Foods with curcumin have strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so they can help with cleansing and healing," said Dr. Andersen.

In fact, research has found that curcumin can stop bacteria from multiplying. So, if your medicine cabinet is running low on antibiotic ointment, try dabbing a little turmeric on your cut or scrape instead. But only use turmeric for minor or superficial wounds. 

Use half a teaspoon of turmeric powder with a drop or two of water to make a paste, suggested Dr. Andersen. Or, if the wound is still bleeding, you can apply the powder without water. After the area is dry, cover it with a dressing and let the healing begin.

A Quick Review

From hiccups to infections, your kitchen may have a treasure trove of natural remedies for some of the most common ailments. 

These 10 food items may bring you relief the next time you have a minor health problem. But always remember that you should bring any serious health conditions to the attention of a healthcare provider.

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9 Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. National Institutes of Health. Calcium.

  3. Office on Women's Health. Urinary tract infections.

  4. Chakraborty S, Rayalu S. Health beneficial effects of cucumber. In: Wang H, ed. Cucumber Economic Values and Its Cultivation and Breeding. IntechOpen; 2021. doi:10.5772/intechopen.96053

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  7. Koyama T, Nagata N, Nishiura K, Miura N, Kawai T, Yamamoto H. Prune Juice Containing Sorbitol, Pectin, and Polyphenol Ameliorates Subjective Complaints and Hard Feces While Normalizing Stool in Chronic Constipation: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled TrialAm J Gastroenterol. 2022;117(10):1714-1717. doi:10.14309/ajg.0000000000001931

  8. UpToDate. Modalities used in the treatment of hiccups.

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