Health

5 Natural Remedies That May Be Even More Effective Than Prescription Medications

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Thanks to busy pharmacies and long waits for doctors’ appointments, at least 52 percent of folks are having trouble filling prescriptions these days. The good news: tackling common health troubles with safe natural remedies at home means you may never need a drugstore in the first place!

Thicken up thinning hair with flaxseed oil.

This cooking oil is rich in vitamins B and E, which nourish hair follicles to power up growth and ensure new strands are stronger and less prone to damage. Meanwhile, the fatty acids in flax oil protect against free-radical damage on the scalp to prevent inflammation that leads to hair loss. Plus, the acids moisturize tresses to make hair look even thicker and more lush. Try equal parts flaxseed oil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar for a hair-healthy salad dressing.

Cook with sesame oil to lower blood pressure.

One of the best remedies for high blood pressure may already be in your pantry: sesame oil! A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that cooking with two tablespoons of sesame oil daily in stir-fries, pasta dishes, and more (ideally, in place of unhealthy fats) made blood pressure plunge 22 points in 45 days — an effect comparable to prescription meds. Credit sesamin, a compound that keeps blood vessels healthy and relaxed.

Relax on the couch when you’re feeling achy.

If your head, back or knees are often sore, try this instead of painkillers: close your eyes and gently tighten then relax small groups of muscles, starting at your toes and working up. Research in Alternative Therapies suggests this technique, called progressive muscle relaxation, soothes pain by 68 percent in 10 minutes and by 80 percent if you do it twice daily. Explains Sidney Sen, MD, it stimulates the nerves that ease pain signals.

Try a natural citrus extract if you have high cholesterol.

Common prescription drug medications often come with challenging side effects. “Statins lower cholesterol, but whether they improve health is up for debate,” says Andrew Weil, MD, author of Mind Over Meds. “They increase the risk of muscle pain, memory loss, fatigue, liver irritation, and diabetes.”

Luckily, Italian scientists say taking 500 to 1,000 milligrams of bergamot extract daily lowers cholesterol 87 points in one month. That’s a bigger drop than statins!

Sip while you dine if you’re prone to heartburn.

Sipping a 6-ounce glass of water as you eat your meal prevents a heartburn flare as effectively as prescription heartburn meds. That’s the good word from Greek scientists, who say water washes pain-triggering stomach acid out of the esophagus, plus it spurs the release of digestive enzymes and speeds stomach emptying. So easy!

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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