Dr. Day is a cardiologist/electrophysiologist at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. He graduated from Johns Hopkins Medical School and completed his residency and fellowships in cardiology and electrophysiology at Stanford University. He is the former president of the Heart Rhythm Society and currently serves as the president of the Utah chapter of the American College of Cardiology.
Top 10 Proven Natural Home Remedies
Can you treat your medical condition naturally? In this article, I share my top 10 proven natural home remedies. Read on to learn how to “hack” your health.
1. Magnesium for Arrhythmias and Palpitations
As magnesium is found in nuts, seeds, and greens, is it any wonder that up to 89% of Americans are magnesium deficient? The Standard American Diet is very low in magnesium. Magnesium is critical for everything from DNA repair to keeping your heart beating normally.
Arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms, are very common. The main symptom of an arrhythmia is heart palpitations.
Studies show that one in four adults will experience the most common arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation. Even palpitations from skipped beats (PVCs and PACs) are very common and trouble many people.
Besides living as healthy as possible, are there any proven natural home remedies?
Let me introduce you to magnesium. As a cardiologist, I have seen countless patients benefit from either increasing the magnesium in their diets or from magnesium supplementation. Unless you suffer from kidney disease, magnesium supplements are generally safe.
In a review of 17 medical studies involving 2,069 patients, magnesium supplementation was shown to decrease nearly all arrhythmias following surgery. In particular, the risk of atrial fibrillation was decreased by 29% and ventricular arrhythmias by 48%.
In addition to calming the heart rhythm, studies also show that magnesium may help with constipation, headaches, anxiety, diabetes, depression, exercise performance, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. As with all of the proven natural home remedies that will be discussed in this article, check with your doctor first as there could be possible side effects and other dangers from any of these home remedies.
2. Cranberries for Bladder Infections
Bladder infections, or urinary tract infections, plague many people. These infections can even be life-threatening. Are there any alternatives to antibiotics?
Consider cranberry juice.
While cranberry juice isn’t the perfect treatment, studies show that it helps. In a review of 10 studies involving 1,049 people, cranberry products were shown to decrease urinary tract infections by 35%.
Unfortunately, we don’t know which form (juice, whole fruit, or extract capsules) or which dose is best. As with all proven natural home remedies, there can be side effects so check with your doctor first. For example, cranberry juice may spike blood sugar in diabetics or it could interact with the blood thinner warfarin.
If you suffer from recurrent bladder infections, adding whole cranberries or unsweetened cranberry juice to your diet may be much safer than an antibiotic.
3. Cinnamon for Diabetes
Nearly half of all American adults now suffer from diabetes or pre-diabetes. In addition to losing weight and exercising, cinnamon has been shown to be very effective for diabetes.
Indeed, medical studies show that cinnamon may reduce blood glucose by 25 mg/dL. Fortunately, this natural blood sugar reduction generally does not cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar in people not on diabetes medications.
However, if you are also on diabetes medications, then you could become very hypoglycemic with a big dose of cinnamon. Thus, if you want to start eating more cinnamon, your doctor may need to reduce the dose of your diabetes medications.
In addition to lowering blood sugar, you can also drop your total cholesterol by 15 mg/dL and your triglycerides by 30 mg/dL with cinnamon.
Unless you suffer from liver failure, you probably can’t eat too much cinnamon from foods. The main side effect of cinnamon is that most people want to eat it with sweets.
Of course, adding cinnamon to sweets completely negates any possible blood sugar benefit. Rather, put cinnamon on your steel cut oatmeal, mix it in with your unsweetened almond milk, or drink it as an herbal tea instead.
4. Turmeric for Knee Pain
Do you suffer from chronic knee pain? If so, turmeric/curcumin has been shown in multiple studies to be just as effective as ibuprofen with far fewer side effects.
Turmeric/curcumin are spices that have been used in Indian and Asian cuisines for millennia. Most commonly, these spices are used in curry dishes.
Turmeric/curcumin is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory agents known. Not only can this spice reduce inflammation in your knee but it has also been shown to protect against cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and heart disease.
In our home, we like eating this spice in curry dishes or adding it to other recipes like soups, hummus, or vegetable dips. If you would rather not incorporate this spice into your food, it also comes in a supplement form. As the potential side effects of turmeric/circumin supplements are too numerous to mention in this article, please check with your doctor first before taking this supplement.
5. A Tennis Ball to Cure Snoring
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 90 million Americans snore. While most cases of snoring just make it difficult for the sleeping partner, 20% of Americans have the dangerous form of snoring, called sleep apnea.
With sleep apnea, excess tissue in the neck and back of the tongue obstructs the airway while sleeping. As a result, these people typically snore like a train and then stop breathing for periods of time while their airway is obstructed. Sleep apnea also causes fatigue, high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and heart failure.
Besides losing weight, there is a real easy solution. For all but the most serious cases, studies show that simply not sleeping on your back is all that is needed to stop snoring and start breathing at night. As you can’t control which sleeping position you will be in at 2 A.M., there is a way to ensure that you never sleep on your back.
As snoring and arrhythmias go hand-in-hand, I have successfully treated many of my patients with a tennis ball. The concept is simple. Just sew a tennis ball in the back of your sleeping shirt.
With the tennis ball in place, it will only take rolling onto your back a few times before your brain subconsciously learns not to do this. Given that the alternative to a tennis ball is sleeping with a C-PAP machine, I would choose the tennis ball every time.
If your doctor has already prescribed C-PAP therapy for your sleep apnea, don’t stop this treatment. Rather, speak with your doctor about getting retested with the tennis ball. It is possible that retesting will show that your sleep apnea is gone as long as you don’t sleep on your back.
6. Probiotics to Treat Diarrhea from Antibiotics
Yes, antibiotics are overprescribed. However, there just may come a day when the only thing that can save your life is an antibiotic.
Antibiotics not only kill the bad bacteria but also your friendly bacteria in your gut as well. It is for this reason that one of the first symptoms from taking an antibiotic is diarrhea.
With the helpful gut flora wiped out, clostridium difficile or “C. diff,” can move in. A C. diff infection of your colon is a difficult to treat, life-threatening infection.
Probiotics may help.
In a review of 16 published studies, probiotics decreased the risk of antibiotic diarrhea by 39% and C. diff colon infections by 63%. In addition to probiotics, fiber is also critical. The beneficial gut flora require fiber as their primary food source.
Probiotics generally come in the form of supplements or fermented foods, like yogurt. Not all yogurt contains live bacterial cultures so you have to look closely on the ingredient list. Also, never buy yogurt with added sugar as sugar is detrimental to the friendly gut flora.
Probiotics are not without risk. There are published reports of life-threatening infections from probiotics, particularly in the young, old, or those with compromised immune systems.
If your doctor ever wants to prescribe an antibiotic, your first question should be, is it absolutely necessary? If the answer is yes, your second question should be, is it safe to take probiotics and eat more fiber while on the antibiotic?
7. Ginger for Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are especially common with pregnancy and chemotherapy. While the standard nausea medications come with many side effects, ginger may work just as well with a fraction of the side effects.
For example, in a review of 12 studies involving 1,278 pregnant women, ginger decreased nausea by 20%. Although not statistically significant, ginger also reduced vomiting in this study by 28%. In a study of cancer patients on chemotherapy, ginger reduced nausea by about 50%.
Fortunately, even with large doses, ginger side effects are rare. For example, in the cancer study above, only 1.5% of patients had any side effects from ginger. These side effects were mostly benign and consisted of gastrointestinal symptoms, acid reflux, bruising, flushing, or rash.
Rather than take a supplement, we like adding ginger to stir-fry dishes. We also enjoy ginger tea.
8. Vitamin C and Zinc for Colds
In addition to washing your hands and getting enough sleep, vitamin C and zinc may be helpful. For example, getting plenty of vitamin C may reduce your risk of catching a cold by 50%. If you happen to come down with a cold, high doses of vitamin C may help you to recover one to two days faster.
Fortunately, it is extremely easy to get vitamin C from food. For example, one bell pepper will get you 157% of the vitamin C you need for the day. A cup of broccoli is not far behind at 135%. If you would rather get your vitamin C from fruit, a cup of strawberries gives you 113% and an orange comes in at 93%.
The other home remedy that helps with colds is zinc. For example, one study showed that zinc lozenges taken as soon as the cold developed, helped people to recover 7 days faster.
I should point out that not every vitamin C or zinc study has been positive. Some have shown no benefit. This is important to remember as high doses of zinc can be toxic. Also, zinc should never be taken through the nose as it may forever damage your ability to smell.
If you feel yourself getting sick, there is little downside to boosting your vitamin C containing vegetables and fruits. However, with regards to zinc lozenges, you may want to check with your doctor first.
9. Tart Cherries for Insomnia
According to the CDC, 70 million Americans have troubles sleeping. I am one of them.
While healthy sleep routines, daily exercise, and natural sunlight during the day all help, tart cherries may be the only thing standing between you and a great night of sleep.
Studies show that tart cherries are loaded with melatonin. In fact, tart cherries have six times more melatonin than other cherries.
In a University of Rochester study, tart cherry juice was shown to decrease the insomnia index 11% more than placebo. While an 11% improvement was not dramatic, tart cherries appear to be just as effective as valerian or melatonin.
When you consider that even Tylenol PM, or other forms of Benadryl (sedating antihistamines), are highly linked to dementia, taking some tart cherries before bed seems to be very benign.
As I worry about the long-term dangers of sugar in fruit juices, a better approach is always to eat the entire fruit. In our home, we love tart cherry smoothies or just eating the whole fruit as a frozen treat after dinner.
10. Honey for a Cough
There is nothing worse than being awakened at night with a cough. As a parent of four children ranging from a newborn to a teenager, we have been awakened many times at night over the years.
In an interesting study, Israeli researchers compared a placebo to honey in in the treatment of 300 children suffering from an upper respiratory tract infection related cough. The children treated with honey took half of a tablespoon of honey 30 minutes before bed. This little dose of honey significantly decreased coughing and increased the total sleeping time of both the child and their parents.
If a cough is keeping you up at night, there is little downside risk, other than the sugar, to a spoonful of honey before bed. As long as you are an adult, and your immune system is strong, you may want to consider raw honey for additional cardiovascular benefits as I discussed in a previous article.
Take Home Message
The take home message of this article is that there are many proven natural home remedies for many of the common conditions. To learn more about how to prevent and treat various medical conditions naturally, please sign up for my free weekly newsletter.
What natural home remedies have worked for you? Please leave your experiences and questions below. I will do my best to answer every question posted.
Disclaimer Policy: This website is intended to give general information and does not provide medical advice. This website does not create a doctor-patient relationship between you and Dr. John Day. If you have a medical problem, immediately contact your healthcare provider. Information on this website is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Dr. John Day is not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your medical decisions.