Those traditional, drug-free remedies passed down through generations are now proven to keep you healthy everyday during the winter.
Stay sniffle-free with a wool hat.
The old adage is true: You really can prevent a cold by bundling up on blustery days, say British scientists. The proof: In their study, volunteers who experienced chilly temperatures for 20 minutes before being exposed to a cold virus were three times more likely to develop cold symptoms than those who stayed toasty. Keeping yourself warm from head to toe widens blood vessels in your nose and airways, allowing germ-fighting antibodies to circulate more easily so they can eradicate invading viruses.
Apply tape to bothersome bumps.
Freezing a wart at your doctor’s office can be costly and painful. Luckily, a simple folk remedy works even better: Cover it with a piece of duct tape, then change it every few days. A study at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio found 85 percent of warts disappear within four weeks versus just 60 percent of those medically frozen. Duct tape starves the bump of oxygen, so it stops growing, then wears away.
Calm a canker sore with a dab of honey.
It’s easy to tamp down a canker sore flare-up fast simply by dabbing the trouble spot with honey three times daily. A study in Quintessence International found that folks with canker sores who followed this sage advice saw their ouch vanish after just one day, while it took eight days to get pain relief from prescription corticosteroids and an OTC cream. Honey brims with inflammation-taming enzymes that soothe discomfort, plus antibacterial compounds that ward off infection.
Ease constipation with sweet fruit.
Good news! You can dig into winter’s deliciously cheesy soups, savory stews and pasta dishes without worrying about digestive sluggishness. All it takes is snacking on three to five prunes or sipping 1 cup of prune juice daily. This centuries-old go-to remedy for staying regular has recently been proven to work more effectively even than psyllium-containing fiber additives (such as Metamucil and Fiberall) at thwarting constipation, report University of Iowa scientists. Credit goes to the fruit’s sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol that has a mild laxative effect.
Heal hemorrhoids with a warm soak.
Soak the affected area in a tub filled with 3 inches of warm water and 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts for 5 minutes three times daily. A study in Women and Birth found that 100 percent of folks who took a “sitz bath” got more relief from pain and itching than those using a topical cream, plus their hemorrhoids disappeared faster. Warmth boosts circulation to speed healing, while the salts ease swelling
Sleep soundly with snug socks.
Compression knee socks that your grandma called “stockings” are known for preventing achy legs. Now, research reveals wearing them during the day promotes deeper sleep at night. That’s because the socks prevent fluid from pooling in your legs, then flowing up to your throat and bladder when you lie down. The upshot? No snoring and no overnight bathroom trips.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.