Healing at home

By: Erika Tarantal, NBC News
By: Erika Tarantal, NBC News

Not everyone relies on doctors to treat common ailments. And not everyone believes store-bought is better. Instead, they depend on home remedies and there are some wild ideas out there.

Can home remedies be effective? Mom Erin Barringer thinks so. "It works if you believe in it. Just getting to the doctor is a hassle so home remedies are an excellent alternative!"

To find unconventional answers to ailments, we contacted those we thought would know best ... Moms. Erin Barringer is the president of the Mom's Club of West Hartford. She sent out an email soliciting ideas. After the first response, the moms were hooked. "Other moms were very quick to reply and share their remedies as well, so it was a nice dialogue between us via e-mail."

Here's a short version, of a once long list we came up with. Use peppermint foot cream for bad breath or body odor.

Preparation H for under-eye puffiness.

Try taping banana peels to your feet for wart removal.

Caffeinated coffee grounds can smooth out cellulite.

Some sound strange but could these remedies produce real results? We decided to ask a doctor.

Dr. A. J. Smally says, “The power of positive thinking and the power of suggestion is pertinent for all of these things.”

And believe it or not, many have some medical merit! We took a closer look at our list with Dr. Smally. As it ends up, peppermint may be absorbed topically, although the skin on the foot is probably too thick. The thinner the better. "Perhaps under your arms or some place like that and peppermint I guess would work for bad breath."

Yes, the face is an unlikely place for Preparation H, but it does contain astringent which can cause skin to tighten! "So it makes sense that if you had loose skin under your eyelids that an astringent would cause some contraction."

Duct tape is a known wart remover. Dr. Smally says bananas may work too. "I would imagine if you tape down a piece of a banana peel it would do a similar thing. It's just that it would smell bad."

As for coffee as a cellulite treatment? "Caffeine is used in a lot of over the counter preparations. There's no evidence that it works but it might be cheaper to use your own coffee than to buy the product."

Dr. Smally says overall there are much better treatments available for all the ailments mentioned, but giving these home remedies a try can't hurt. His only suggestion was "If you want to have friends, don't strap a whole banana to your foot."

Just don't get the Preparation H in your eye either.


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