Natural Remedies for Common Ailments: What Works and What Doesn't

Natural remedies can seem like a good option for managing minor health problems, especially as we age. But it's important to remember that 'natural' doesn't always mean 'better.' Talk to your doctor before trying any new treatment, even natural ones. This helps you stay safe and get the most out of natural remedies.

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Natural Remedies for Common Ailments: What Works and What Doesn't
5 Min Read June 15th, 2024

As we age, those little aches and pains, digestive troubles, and other minor annoyances pop up more frequently. Imagine waking up with a stiff back, only to be greeted by an upset stomach after breakfast.

While these issues might not be severe, they can certainly dampen our daily routine and overall sense of well-being. More people are turning to natural remedies to treat these common ailments in today's fast-paced world.

The appeal of using nature's bounty over pharmaceutical options is undeniable. Whether it's a soothing cup of chamomile tea for sleep or a dab of peppermint oil for headaches, many natural remedies promise relief. Let's explore which natural remedies are genuinely effective and which ones might fall short.

Understanding Natural Remedies

Many people turn to natural remedies for everyday health problems. These remedies include herbs, spices, or even certain foods. They're popular because they're easy to find, often inexpensive, and thought to have milder side effects than medications. But it's important to be clear-eyed about what works and what doesn't. This helps ensure you use natural remedies safely and get the most out of them.

Common Ailments and Their Natural Remedies

Colds and Flu

  • Effective: Honey and Lemon for sore throats. A warm mixture of honey and lemon can soothe a sore throat, thanks to honey's antibacterial properties and lemon's vitamin C boost.
  • Not Effective: Vitamin C after symptoms start. While vitamin C is excellent for preventing colds, taking it after symptoms begin doesn't significantly shorten illness duration.
  • Not Effective: While echinacea is often touted as a remedy for the common cold, research findings are mixed. Some studies suggest it may slightly reduce the duration of a cold, while others find little to no benefit
  • Note: Rest and hydration are crucial for recovery, regardless of the remedies used.


  • Effective: Peppermint oil for tension headaches. Due to its muscle-relaxing and cooling properties, applying diluted peppermint oil to the temples can relieve tension headaches.
  • Not Effective: Essential oils as a sole treatment for migraines. While they may provide some relief, essential oils alone are not sufficient for managing severe migraines.
  • Note: Staying hydrated and avoiding known headache triggers can help reduce frequency and severity. If you have any doubt about the seriousness of your headache, it's best to see a doctor. If you don't have a primary doctor, you can visit urgent care clinics in the U.S. and the U.K.

Before any problems arise, ensure you have health insurance in place. In the U.K., you can visit to explore health insurance options.

Digestive Issues

  • Effective: Ginger for nausea and upset stomach. Ginger has well-documented anti-nausea properties and can help with various digestive issues.
  • Not Effective: Apple cider vinegar for acid reflux. While some swear by it, it can actually worsen acid reflux in many cases.
  • Note: Maintaining a balanced diet and eating smaller, frequent meals can help manage digestive discomfort.

Skin Conditions

  • Effective: Aloe Vera for sunburn and minor cuts. Aloe Vera's soothing and healing properties make it excellent for treating minor skin issues.
  • Not Effective: Coconut oil for all skin issues (e.g., acne). While great for moisturizing, coconut oil can clog pores and worsen acne.
  • Note: Always perform a patch test before trying new remedies and consult a dermatologist for persistent skin problems.

Insomnia and Sleep Disorders

  • Effective: Chamomile tea for better sleep. Chamomile tea is widely regarded for its calming effects and is often used to aid sleep. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), chamomile contains an antioxidant called apigenin, which binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.
  • Not Effective: Heavy meals or caffeine before bed. These can disrupt sleep patterns and should be avoided.
  • Note: A consistent bedtime routine and a calming sleep environment are vital for good sleep hygiene.

Minor Aches and Pains

  • Effective: Turmeric for inflammation. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has potent anti-inflammatory properties that can help with minor aches and pains.
  • Not Effective: Over-reliance on home remedies for serious pain. Severe or persistent pain requires medical attention.
  • Note: Proper posture and ergonomic furniture can prevent and alleviate pain.

Evaluating Natural Remedies: What Works and What Doesn't

It's important to remember that natural remedies can sometimes interact with medications you're already taking. Like any other supplement, talking to your doctor before starting a new natural remedy is wise. They can help you understand if it might interfere with your current prescriptions.

Another thing to keep in mind is that natural remedies aren't always a one-size-fits-all solution. Be sure to use the recommended dosages or times to take them to get the best results out of natural remedies for the best results.

Use Natural Remedies Safely

  1. Start with well-researched remedies. Stick to treatments with proven benefits and scientific backing.
  2. Use remedies as a complement, not a replacement, for conventional medicine. Natural remedies can support health but shouldn't replace necessary medical treatment.
  3. Keep informed about the latest research. Stay updated on new studies and findings to ensure you're using the most effective treatments.

How Quickly Should You See a Doctor?

Don't put off seeing a doctor because you dislike going. Doctors are there to help you feel better, and delaying an appointment could worsen your condition. If there is a serious condition, getting treatment quickly is important.

Evaluate the Pain

First of all, think about how much pain you're in. For example, if you have a dull headache, you could wait to see whether over-the-counter medications work or if you feel better in a few hours. However, if this headache is stopping you from doing your normal activities and causing you severe pain, this is when you need to get help. So, take a moment to evaluate the pain to see what you should do next.

Understand What Could Be Dangerous

While home remedies can be helpful for minor ailments, there are times when seeking medical attention is crucial. Some symptoms should never be ignored. In fact, they might even merit a call to 911 (in the U.S. and Canada) or 999 ( in the U.K.) rather than just seeing a doctor.

Don't hesitate to go to the hospital if you experience severe pain, high fever, trouble breathing, vomiting blood, or sudden changes in speech or mobility. These symptoms could indicate a serious medical condition that requires professional evaluation and treatment.

Remember, it's always better to be safe than sorry. If you're unsure whether your symptoms warrant a trip to the hospital, err on the side of caution and seek professional medical help.

Although natural remedies offer a promising way to manage common ailments, it's crucial to approach them with a balanced perspective. While many remedies have proven benefits, others may not be as effective as advertised. You can safely incorporate natural remedies into your health routine by relying on scientific evidence and consulting healthcare professionals.

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About the Author

Marcus Howard is a writer with years of experience in the field of alternative health. He has written extensively on a variety of topics, including CBD, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and the use of alternative health options for older adults.

LTC News Contributor Marcus Howard

Marcus Howard

Contributor since July 5th, 2023

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