The next time you have a sore throat or tender muscles, don’t rush to the doctor or drugstore. Save yourself the time and money and open up your pantry instead.
Inside you’ll find plenty of foods and beverages that will fight off every ache, pain, germ, and scrape imaginable. Here are seven surprising ways to heal yourself naturally. (And for hundreds more doctor-approved, do-it-yourself fixes for every injury, check out The Athlete’s Book of Home Remedies.)
1. Muscle Pain
The anti-inflammatory chemicals in cherry juice help your muscles recover more quickly after a tough strength-training session, finds a study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. Drinking 16 ounces a day for three days before an intense workout will result in less muscle soreness two days later, according to research.
2. Athlete’s Foot
Your fast fix for the pesky fungal intrusion? Combine two teaspoons of salt for every pint of warm water, advises Suzanne M. Levine, D.P.M., P.C., podiatric surgeon and clinical podiatrist. Soak your feet in the mixture for five to ten minutes at a time.
3. Body Odor
If you’ve been smelling a little foul lately, put apple cider vinegar on a washcloth and rub it on your armpit to kill off B.O., says Georgianna Donadio, Ph.D., Director of the National Institute of Whole Health. (For more ways to stay fresh this summer, learn how to De-Funk Your Junk!)
4. Minor Burns
Stand a little too close to the grill at your cookout? Do this: For the first 24 hours after the accident, wrap your burn in a dry cloth and leave it alone. After that, if your burn needs instant pain relief, combine 10 drops of peppermint essential oil with 1/8 cup honey and rub it on the burned area, says Janet Moccaro, Ph.D., C.N.C., holistic nutritionist.
Keep your flakes at bay: First, warm a few ounces of olive oil on the stove. Then, wet your hair and apply the oil to your scalp with a cotton ball or brush, says R. Jeffrey Herten, M.D., dermatologist. Leave the oil on for 30 minutes before washing it out with a dandruff shampoo.
6. Sore Throat
Feeling a little hoarse? Coat your throat with this homemade cure: Gargle 1 teaspoon of salt and 8 ounces of warm water a couple times a day, says Hueston King, M.D., clinical professor of ear, nose, and throat at the University of Florida Medical School.
Channel your inner vampire and stock up on garlic, stat. It inhibits cough-causing viruses in the respiratory tract, says pediatrician Stuart Ditchek, M.D. Eating two to four raw or slightly cooked garlic cloves at the first sign of a cold can help you fight it off.
Additional reporting by Cindy Kuzma