Do you have an embarrassing health problem? Unfortunately, embarrassment can keep people from seeking solutions to their problems. And that’s a shame because there are simple, fast, natural solutions for most embarrassing health problems. Caution: If nondrug remedies don’t work after a week or two, see your doctor—your health problem may have a serious cause that requires medical attention.
Sulfur-generating bacteria in the mouth cause most cases of bad breath. And those bacteria usually are on your tongue.
Solution: Use a tongue scraper.
Scientific evidence: A study in Journal of Periodontology showed that tongue scraping reduced “volatile sulfur compounds” by 75%, while cleaning with a toothbrush reduced them by 45%.
What to do: First, buy a tongue scraper, available for less than $10 online and in drugstores.
Your goal is to remove the creamy-looking white, brown or orange layer of gunk on your tongue with the scraper. Gently but firmly scrape both the top and the sides of your tongue (but not the underside) from back to front. Start scraping as far back on the tongue as you can without gagging. If the gunk isn’t completely gone, go over the same area until it is removed. After you are done, rinse the scraper.
Also helpful: In a scientific study published in The Journal of Clinical Dentistry, chewing gum with cinnamon essential oils reduced sulfur compounds in the mouth by more than 50%. And in a new study on bad breath, published in Archives of Oral Biology, scientists tested 10 essential oils and found that cinnamon oil was the most effective in reducing sulfur in the mouth. Good product: Cinnamon-flavored, sugarless Spry gum, which contains bacteria-reducing xylitol. Chew it after every meal.
You need to pass gas—it’s a natural part of digestion, and the average person does it anywhere from six to 21 times a day. But passing it excessively is uncomfortable and embarrassing.
Most excessive passing of gas is caused by dysbiosis—an imbalance in intestinal bacteria, with “bad” bacteria such as Clostridium difficile outnumbering “friendly” bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus.
Solution: Take a daily probiotic, a supplement containing friendly bacteria.
Scientific evidence: Researchers from the Mayo Clinic and other institutions analyzed the results of six studies on probiotics involving more than 560 people—and found that the supplement “significantly improved” flatulence.
Also helpful: If you’re about to be in a social situation where gas is a no-no, take a preventive dose of activated charcoal, which works by binding with toxins (including unhealthful bacteria) and ushering them out of the body. Follow the dosage recommendations on the label.
There are many possible causes of anal itching including diarrhea, incontinence, psoriasis, genital warts or a yeast infection. But one common cause is hemorrhoids, the swollen and inflamed anal veins that affect half of Americans over age 50. (If you have pain and bleeding with the itching, a hemorrhoid is the likely cause. But confirm the cause of anal itching with your doctor.)
Solution: To ease itching from hemorrhoids, one vein-strengthening food factor works particularly well—hesperidin, a flavonoid (plant pigment) found in citrus fruits.
Scientific evidence: A study in British Journal of Surgery analyzed 14 other studies on flavonoids and hemorrhoids, involving more than 1,500 people. The scientists found that consuming flavonoids cut the risk of itching from hemorrhoids by 35%—and also significantly reduced bleeding and pain.
What to do: Look for a supplement containing diosmin, a specially processed form of hesperidin. Take 500 milligrams (mg), twice daily. Diosmin is very safe, but a few people may experience intestinal discomfort—if that happens, stop taking the supplement.
Also helpful: Other ways to help prevent and heal hemorrhoids include drinking more water (60 ounces a day is a good goal)…increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains…and regular exercise, such as brisk walking.
Leaking After You Pee
A few drops of urine leak out after you think you’re done using the bathroom, leaving a wet spot. That embarrassing scenario is called post-micturition dribble, and it affects an estimated 12% of American men and 9% of American women. The cause usually is weakness and loss of tone in the bulbocavernosus muscle, which squeezes to force urine out.
Solution: Strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, the area between the genitals and the pelvis, where the bulbocavernosus is located.
You might be familiar with Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic wall—but most people do them wrong. Here’s how to do them right…
First, locate the muscles of your pelvic floor by slowing or stopping the stream of urine the next time you go to the bathroom. When you’re doing Kegels correctly, you will feel the same sensation you feel when stopping your stream of urine—a pulling sensation in your rectum or (for women) a lifting sensation in your vagina.
Several times a day—standing, sitting or lying down—squeeze the muscles and hold the contraction for 10 seconds. (If you can’t hold the contraction that long, start with a count of three and build up to a count of 10.) Breathe normally, and check to see that your abdomen is relaxed. (Holding your breath or squeezing the muscles in your abdomen or buttocks—neither of which isolates the muscles of your pelvic floor—are common errors.)
Do 45 Kegels a day—15 Kegels in a row, three times a day. You can do them during other activities, such as taking a shower, brushing your teeth or eating.
The flaking and itchiness of dandruff are caused by overproduction of a substance called sebum from glands in the scalp. These glands typically are hyperactive when the scalp is excessively dry. While dandruff shampoos control symptoms, they don’t address the underlying problem. In fact, they often contain harsh cleansers that destroy the scalp’s delicate balance of water and oil, further irritating the scalp and perpetuating the problem.
Solution: I often recommend a simple, natural, homemade antidandruff lotion, developed by aromatherapist Roberta Wilson. It normalizes the water- and oil-secreting glands of the scalp, helping to eliminate dandruff.
How to make it: To eight ounces of unscented, mild shampoo, add 10 drops of tea tree oil, eight drops of cedarwood oil, six drops of pine oil, six drops of rosemary oil, four drops of clary sage oil and four drops of lemon oil. Use the shampoo two or three times weekly, leaving it on for a minute or two each time. You should see results within a week or two. Caution: If you have very sensitive skin, test each essential oil first. Put a dab on the inside of your wrist. If there is any redness or irritation after a few minutes, don’t use it.