9 At-Home Remedies That Actually Work

Chicken soup for the soul. Samantha Lee/Business Insider

Turns out mom was right. Chicken soup is good for a cold.

But it's not the only old-school remedy that scientists have actually found to be helpful.

Here are nine weird household tricks that you can actually use to ward off pain, soothe a cold, calm a headache, or brighten your smile.

Feeling a cold coming on? Try gargling with plain water. A study of close to 400 healthy volunteers found that those who gargled with plain water were significantly less likely to come down with upper-respiratory-tract infections (URTIs) — a type of infection often linked with colds and the flu — during the study period than those who didn’t gargle. The researchers concluded that, “Simple water gargling was effective to prevent URTIs among healthy people.”

If you tend to get motion sick on trips, try packing along a couple pieces of ginger candy. One study comparing people taking a placebo with those taking ginger found that just one gram of the root was helpful in alleviating symptoms of seasickness, morning sickness, and nausea induced by chemotherapy.

In general, ginger may also be helpful for relieving gas and indigestion, Stephen Hanauer, MD, a professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told Prevention.

Mom was right. While the jury’s still out on precisely why chicken soup makes us feel better when we’re sick, researchers are pretty certain that it does. For one study in which researchers were trying to pinpoint the effect the soup had on inflammation (a common component of colds), they found that it slowed the movement of neutrophils, the white blood cells that are the hallmark of acute infection. In other words, the soup appears to help calm down the inflammation that triggers many cold symptoms.

So long as you don't have a punctured eardrum, you use this easy recipe from the Mayo Clinic to stop ear infections before they start. Simply combine one part white vinegar with one part rubbing alcohol, pour a teaspoon into each ear and let it drain back out. The mixture is designed to help stop the growth of bacteria and fungi that cause swimmer’s ear.

They’re not just good for the body — fresh, crunchy fruits and veggies also help keep your pearly whites white. As you chew apples and carrots, for example, their broken-up pieces scrub the surface of your teeth, helping to remove stains. Apples and strawberries also contain malic acid, which helps whiten the enamel.

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