Photo: Getty Images

HEALTH

A very unscientific report on the truth about home remedies

Photo: Getty Images

Has anyone actually cured their cystitis with cranberry juice? (Of course they haven’t)

Added on

By Caroline O'Donoghue on

As I write this, I have toothpaste on my face. There are two ways a woman can have toothpaste on her face: one) if she woke up late and her morning routine had to be compacted into a rushed five-minute window, thus leaving her with a crusty white snail trail until the early afternoon; two) if she has a massive spot.

I have a massive spot. I almost always do. I have the kind of oily skin that I am told will serve me well in middle age but, at the moment, plagues me with perpetual whiteheads. Whiteheads that I then douse with toothpaste and become whiter still. I have been doing this for approximately 15 years. It doesn’t work. Well, I suppose it depends on your definition of “work”. It sort of shrivels the head of the spot off, so while the spot is still red and bulbous, it is now easier to put make-up over.

I imagine that, just by writing this, I’m going to get a whole bunch of PR emails and tweets about how I can buy a tea-tree-and-witch-hazel-oil-infused spot stick that will be much, much better for me than a dab of Colgate. And, sure, I might even buy one of these spot sticks. I will use the spot stick twice and it will have the exact same effect as the Colgate. Inevitably, I will lose it in a secret pocket in my carry-on luggage that I somehow always know is there when I pack and whose existence I forget about when I unpack. And then I will be back to square one with the toothpaste.

No matter how many products or drugs that come on the market, there’s something much more alluring about the home remedy. I live above a Tesco Express and a pharmacy, and yet, every time I have any form of ailment, the first thing I do is google “baking soda for cystitis” and “cure cramps with rice”.

At this point, I have tried every home remedy on the first 10 pages of Google and here is my unscientific report on them.

Thrush

For decades, women have been using natural yoghurt for thrush with the pseudo-science justification that it helps send “good bacteria” to your old woman. And, sure, while it’s definitely cold, soothing and helps use up the remainder of that Greek yoghurt you keep buying, there is zero medical proof that it helps cure thrush. Unfortunately, the only real “cure” for thrush is time and those weird suppositories where you shoot a pill into your vagina. Personally speaking, I find coconut oil straight out of the fridge more soothing than yoghurt, with the added bonus of it smelling nicer and not ruining your underwear. Neither will “cure” you, but it will soothe you as much as Canesten cream will.

(Full disclosure: I was once at a remote yoga retreat where I got thrush and the only way for me to try to cure it was to sneak down to the breakfast buffet every morning and to take the yoghurt pots back to my room. This is perhaps the most middle-class story I have ever told.)

Cystitis

I’m just going to say it: I have what is colloquially known as a Problem Puss. If I don’t have thrush, I have cystitis, and if I don’t have cystitis, I’m probably about to get it. I once got cystitis by holding in a sneeze, my dudes.

My mum’s favoured remedy is to put a slice of bread in hot water and mush it directly on to your spot, which I’ve never seen actually work, but she forces me to do it when I’m home, anyway

No amount of cranberry juice on God’s green earth is going to shift your cystitis. An aunt of mine recommended sitting in a 2in bath of warm water and bicarbonate of soda, but this is apparently really bloody dangerous, so please don’t do it. I think everyone’s aunt is out there, telling everyone to sit in baking soda, and it’s reportedly responsible for 5% of baking-soda accidents.

Water is the only thing. I know. I’m sorry. You knew this already. Set up a home office on the toilet and drink a two-litre thing of filtered water. See if you can angle the TV so you can watch old episodes of 30 Rock in the mirror and, if the symptoms go on for more than two days, see the doctor. My deepest condolences for your Problem Puss.

Warts

I don’t have warts, but I have watched a friend’s wart disappear in mere days with the aid of a “banana plaster”. What’s a banana plaster, you ask? You literally tape a banana peel to the affected area and the wart goes away. It’s witchcraft and I don’t dare question it.

Cramps

There are only two home remedies for cramps that work. The first: put rice into a (clean) sock and stick in the microwave. It works better than a hot-water bottle because you can kind of “mould” the hot rice into where your cramp is.

What’s the second home remedy for cramps, you ask? Sex. I don’t know if it’s because shagging just makes you feel better about life generally, but if I can physically manage to have sex while I have cramps, I will feel less crampy afterwards. I realise this might be a more Caroline-specific home remedy and perhaps not applicable to everyone, but I thought you should know anyway.

Spots

Look, you’re either a toothpaste person or a Sudocrem person, and it largely depends on whether you have more toothpaste or Sudocrem in your house. If we have to pit them against each other, Sudocrem is the better bet because it has anti-inflammatory benzyl in it.

My mum’s favoured remedy is to put a slice of bread in hot water and mush it directly on to your spot, which I’ve never seen actually work, but she forces me to do it when I’m home, anyway. Has this ever worked for anyone? Please let me know.

@Czaroline

Sign up

Love this? Sign up to receive our Today in 3 email, delivering the latest stories straight to your inbox every morning, plus all The Pool has to offer. You can manage your email subscription preferences at My Profile at any time

or
Photo: Getty Images
Tagged in:
Health
Opinion

Tap below to add
the-pool.com to your homescreen

Close
Love The Pool? Support us and sign up to get your favourite stories straight to your inbox