We all want to feel better faster! Here are nine remedies for common health problems that take very little time to implement and that often work in a flash…
1. Arthritis. Nearly half of Americans age 60 and older suffer with the pain of knee arthritis. Ice is the fastest way to relieve that pain—faster than taking a pain pill, says Jason Theodosakis, MD, coauthor of The Arthritis Cure and associate clinical professor at University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. But ice often is used incorrectly, undercutting its pain-relieving power. Many people find the feeling of cold uncomfortable, so they either don’t ice often enough or at all.
Rapid Remedy: Buy a freezable soft gel ice pack and a compression (ACE-type) bandage. Store the gel pack in the freezer. When your knee hurts, place the pack on your knee over a pant leg or a towel, securing it to your knee with the compression bandage. (Never put the ice pack directly on your skin.) Keep the ice pack on for about 15 minutes—just the right amount of time to provide an hour or two of pain relief. Ice packs can bring relief to other parts of the body, too, including the ankle, shoulder and neck.
2. Constipation. In a study published in World Journal of Gastroenterology, people with chronic constipation were given a kiwi to eat twice a day for four weeks. For most patients, the number of weekly bowel movements doubled, and laxative use was reduced by 50%. Other research shows that eating kiwi can improve constipation in people with irritable bowel syndrome. Eating the fruit’s skin triples the fiber intake and increases the amount of vitamin C when compared with eating just the flesh.
Rapid Remedy: Eat one ripe kiwi after breakfast and one after dinner. To determine whether a kiwi is ripe, apply slight pressure to the skin with your thumb. If there’s a little give, it’s ripe. My health-coaching clients with constipation love this remedy—because it’s so much easier than other oft-suggested remedies, such as exercising regularly, trying to eat a variety of high-fiber foods every day or using an herbal or a medicinal laxative.
3. Bug bite relief. I learned this fix from Matthew Schulman, MD, a New York City physician…
Rapid Remedy: To stop the discomfort of a bug bite, Dr. Schulman prepares his own topical cream. It consists of two 25-milligram (mg) Benadryl tablets crushed into a powder and mixed into a small amount of over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream (follow the use directions and cautions on the label). “This has an amazing effect that is better than any prescription drug I’ve tried,” he said.
4. Back pain. There are many different causes of back pain. But you can relieve many types by using a simple position that takes weight off your spine while supporting it, says Art Brownstein, MD, director of Princeville Medical Clinic in Hawaii and author of Healing Back Pain Naturally.
Rapid Remedy: Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet resting up on a chair or a bed. Remain in this position for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat this pose several times a day if needed.
5. Dry eye. Dry eye is one of the most common reasons people visit eye doctors. And one of the most common causes of dry eye is hours of nonstop computer use. There’s a quick fix I learned from Robert A. Latkany, MD, founder and director of the Dry Eye Clinic at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai and author of The Dry Eye Remedy.
Rapid Remedy: Twice an hour, turn away from your computer screen, close your eyes and then move your eyeballs around underneath your closed lids as you count slowly to 10. This bathes and lubricates the eyes.
6. Eczema. The dry, itchy skin of eczema afflicts more than 30 million Americans and is the number-one reason people visit dermatologists. You can stop the itching in one minute with a remedy I learned from Adnan Nasir, MD, professor of dermatology at Duke University and author of Eczema-Free for Life.
Rapid Remedy: With the heel of your palm, apply firm, deep pressure—equivalent to the weight of a bowling ball—to the site of the itching for one minute. Then apply the same deep pressure to the same part of the body but on the opposite side. For example, if the itch is on your left forearm, first apply pressure there, then apply pressure to your right forearm. “Why this works isn’t known,” Dr. Nasir told me, “but the anti-itching effect can last from minutes to hours.”
7. Osteoporosis. Several studies show that eating prunes can reduce biomarkers of bone loss and build bone density—probably by decreasing bone-damaging oxidation and inflammation. In fact, scientists at Florida State University who conducted the research call prunes “the most effective fruit in preventing and reversing bone loss.”
Rapid Remedy: A study in British Journal of Nutrition shows that eating prunes daily is protective. Aim for five or six a day. Try sprinkling pitted, chopped prunes on oatmeal or ready-to-eat cereal or into pancake batter. Or add them to apple butter, orange marmalade, peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese, and spread on crackers for a delicious snack. Prunes also are great in chicken salad. Or simply eat prunes every day—they make a great dessert.
8. Indigestion. If you’ve got chronic indigestion or heartburn that medical care hasn’t eased (or you don’t want to take a dangerous acid-suppressing drug such as a proton pump inhibitor), you might want to try Iberogast. Scientific research shows that this nine-herb remedy from Germany can relieve stomach and abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, bloating and gas. How it works: Research published in The American Journal of Gastroenterology shows that Iberogast relaxes the muscles of the stomach, improves stomach motility (the action of the muscles that move food out of the stomach into the small intestine) and reduces gut inflammation.
Rapid Remedy: To ease chronic indigestion or heartburn, take 20 drops, three times a day, right before, with or right after a meal. You can take the drops directly or mix them with one to two ounces of warm water. You can find Iberogast at many online retailers. Caution: Iberogast should not be taken by anyone with liver disease or by women who are pregnant.
9. Tinnitus. An estimated 35 million Americans suffer from this inner-ear problem that makes sufferers hear sounds such as buzzing, ringing, humming, hissing or clicking. Otolaryngologist Michael D. Seidman, MD, shared with me a rapid remedy for the problem—a combination of zinc and niacin (vitamin B-3). How it works: The highest concentrations of zinc in the body are in the inner ear, and low levels may affect hearing. Niacin may work by improving circulation to the inner ear.
Rapid Remedy: Take 25 mg of zinc once a day and 50 mg of niacin twice a day. (If you’re already getting zinc and niacin in a multivitamin/mineral supplement, take enough of the nutrients to reach this level.) This can relieve tinnitus within two weeks or less. Note: Niacin supplements may cause harmless, temporary but intense facial “flushing” or redness.