Home remedies for common conditions

Why waste your money buying expensive health or cosmetic products when you could get similar results simply by utilising the contents of your kitchen cupboard?

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That's the attitude held by home remedy enthusiasts anyway - people who take a DIY approach to common cures.

While we're in no way advocating or recommending these remedies, either in themselves or as substitutes for conventional medicines, here are some of the most popular...

Dry skin
With the prices charged for many over-the-counter skin creams, we're not surprised some people make their own instead.

One that might not seem like much of a remedy is drinking more water, but keeping the body's largest organ well-hydrated is an obvious move when you think about it.

Other home remedies used on dry skin include rubbing with sesame oil after a shower, bathing in milk like Cleopatra (apparently cows' milk is acceptable), rubbing honey over your body before a bath, rubbing oatmeal on hands before washing them and applying coconut or avocado oil to the skin. A common facial for dry skin is to mash a ripe banana and smoother on to the face and neck, leave for a while, and then remove with lukewarm water.

This is another condition where keeping topped up with plenty of good old-fashioned H2O can work wonders - add a bit of exercise into the equation and you may not need to go any further at all.

But if you're still having problems, a few diet changes could help get things moving again.

If you have constipation, eating more soluble fibre can help - things like oats, barley, root vegetables and fruit. If you suffer with diarrhoea, eating more insoluble fibre is advised - so you'll be stocking up on wholegrain bread, nuts, seeds, bran and cereals.

Other home remedies recommended by enthusiasts include honey, molasses, coffee, ginger tea and aloe vera juice - although we can't vouch for the efficacy of them.

Yeast infections
Most women will experience vaginal thrush at some point in their lives. While there are many over-the-counter oral and topical medicines available, you may want to try a home remedy.

The most common is to dip a clean tampon into plain, natural yoghurt and insert into the vagina for a while (eg 30 minutes) and then remove - repeating twice or three times a day. The active yoghurt cultures are thought to destroy the fungi that cause vaginal thrush. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist.

Some women also find that sitting in a bath containing some vinegar or tea tree oil helps (never directly apply either undiluted).

Teeth Whitening
This is one of the most common home remedy applications - and a variety of foods and substances are used by those in search of naturally gleaming pearly whites.

Strawberries, lemon juice (diluted), apples, carrots, dairy foods, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide are all recommended by various "experts". We advise the utmost caution if experimenting with any of these - and suggest you ask your dentist for advice.

What do you think about home remedies? Do you have any you swear by - or are they best avoided? Comment below...