30 Amazing Health Hacks

Daily Health Solutions, Featured Article, Healthy Living, Power to the Patient
on February 27, 2013
Woman drinking tea to treat sore throat.

The human body is a strange thing. Anybody who has experienced an annoying case of the hiccups or an excruciating charley horse can attest to that. Below, we’ve compiled 30 do-it-yourself ways to hack your most unpleasant bodily ailments, from nosebleeds to hiccups to brain freezes. Some of the cures are based on time-honored home remedies, while others are just downright bizarre. Bacon for nosebleeds, anybody?

1. Rub your ears to boost energy: Feeling sluggish at your desk? Instead of reaching for another cup of coffee, give your ears a gentle self-massage. According to Chinese medicine, stimulating the pressure points in the ears increases blood circulation to all parts of the body, giving you an instant energy boost.

2. Cure hiccups with peanut butter. The next time hiccups strike, reach for a spoonful of peanut butter. Chewing and swallowing the sticky spread will interrupt your breathing pattern and force your diaphragm to relax. Voila—no more hiccups!

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3. Use honey to soothe a sore throat. Drinking tea or water with honey is an age-old home remedy for easing sore throat pain. A natural antibacterial and antifungal agent, honey can help coat and soothe sore throats and alleviate minor coughs.

4. Blow-dry waterlogged ears. If water gets trapped in your ears after a swimming session, put a hair dryer on the gentlest setting and hold it a few inches away from your ear. The increased airflow will help to evaporate the water in your ear.

5. Make warts disappear with garlic. Garlic—which has been shown to have antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties—is thought to be an effective home remedy for warts. Apply a freshly cut garlic clove to the wart, place a bandage over it, and leave the bandage on overnight. Repeat every night until the wart disappears.

6. Blow on your thumb to calm jangled nerves. Have the jitters before a presentation? Blow on your thumb to normalize your heart rate. The thumb has its own pulse, and blowing on the thumb will cool down the thumb and thus calm the heart rate, as cold air can slow down your pulse. This trick might also help simply because the act of blowing forces you to deepen your breathing, which calms the heart.

7. Sniff peppermint to quell a craving. The easiest way to reduce cravings? Chew mint gum, sip peppermint tea, or take a whiff of peppermint oil. Studies suggest that the scent of peppermint stimulates the brain to release appetite-suppressing hormones and promotes a feeling of fullness.

8. Curl your toes to fall asleep faster. The next time you find yourself tossing and turning, try a progressive muscle relaxation technique. Begin by slowly curling and uncurling your toes. Then, work your way up the entire body, from your toes to your neck, tightening a certain muscle group before releasing it.

9. Smile to make yourself happier. For an instant mood boost, smile! Scientists have found that the simple act of smiling can lower blood pressure and release stress, giving you an instant mood boost (yes, even forced smiles count!).

10. Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth to beat brain freeze. Also referred to as “ice cream headaches,” brain freezes are caused by a rapid increase in blood flow to the brain. After you down a frozen treat, try thrusting your tongue against the roof of your mouth—this will warm up the palate and ease the flow of blood to the brain.

11. Rub Vicks Vaporub on feet for congestion. To temporarily relieve a cough, try applying the mentholated topical cream on the soles of your feet and immediately covering with a pair of socks. There is no scientific explanation for why this old wives’ trick works, but many stuffy nose-sufferers (and even nurses and doctors) swear by it.

12. Use ginger to prevent motion sickness. Ginger is a time-honored natural cure for nausea and motion sickness. Twenty minutes before travel, take two capsules of powdered ginger to ease an upset stomach caused by motion sickness.

13. Shake your head to wake up sleepy feet. It happens to all of us—you’re sitting in an awkward position when all of a sudden your foot, hand or other body part falls asleep. To quickly eliminate that uncomfortable tingling sensation, move your head side to side. The movement helps relieve nerve tension.

14. Alleviate nausea by massaging wrist. Relieve nausea by lightly massaging the pressure point on the inside of your wrist, about three finger widths below the base of your palm.

15. Squeeze lemon to erase pimples. Banish breakouts by dabbing a little lemon juice on problem areas—its antibacterial properties will help kill excess bacteria and reduce acne.

16. Dab on clove oil to alleviate toothache pain. Apply a very small amount of clove oil to a cotton swab and gently dab onto the affected tooth area. The essential oil has been shown in studies to have both analgesic and antibacterial properties, making it a useful tool in treating bacteria-caused toothaches.

17. Inhale onion vapors for sinus relief. The next time your sinuses are clogged, try this natural remedy: Chop up an onion, put it in a bowl, and inhale the onion fumes. The onion vapors help open sinus passageways, providing relief from sinus pressure.

18. Stop mouth bleeds with tea bags. To stop mouth bleeds after oral surgery or injuries, apply a moistened tea bag to the affected area; the tannins in tea help the blood coagulate faster. 

19. Steam to relieve nasal congestion. Stuffy nose? Hit the steam room. Steam helps to loosen mucus and clear out the sinus cavities, providing relief from nasal congestion. A hot bath works, too. 

20. Sleep on your left side to prevent acid reflux.  Does an uncomfortable burning sensation keep you up at night? To prevent nighttime acid reflux from striking, sleep on your left side. Researchers have determined that left-side sleeping helps with digestion and eases heartburn pain.

21. Massage temples to relieve headaches. Gently massage your temples (in line with your eyes, on the side of your head) to release tension in the facial muscles and increase circulation to the brain.

22. Use bacon to stop a nosebleed. An eyebrow-raising study published in the Annals of Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology recommends bacon as an effective medical cure for chronic and uncontrollable nosebleeds. When rolled up into a plug and inserted into the nose, the cured bacon promptly stopped nasal bleeding.

23. Munch on apples to clean teeth. A crunchy apple acts like a toothbrush as you chew it. The process of chewing an apple removes excess food and bacteria from your mouth. Apples also contain malic acid, a chemical used in teeth whitening products, which helps dissolve stains.

24. Eat bread to chop an onion without crying. It may sound silly, but try holding a slice of bread in your mouth the next time you chop onions. The claim is that the bread “soaks up” the noxious onion gases and prevents them from reaching the olfactory nerves, keeping you tear-free.

25. Sing to prevent snoring. Finally, an excuse to tap into your inner pop star: To put sleep-disruptive snoring to rest, try belting out your favorite song for a few minutes daily. According to studies, daily singing sessions can increase muscle control in the throat and soft palate, reducing the frequency of snoring in just three months.

26. Eat bananas to prevent leg cramps. Do painful leg or foot cramps jolt you awake in the middle of the night? A potassium deficiency might be to blame. Munch on potassium-rich bananas to keep leg cramps at bay.

27. Ease heartburn symptoms with baking soda. Banish heartburn by guzzling a glass of water mixed with 1 teaspoon of baking sodium. Baking soda—or sodium bicarbonate—is a base, so it can help neutralize stomach acid and alleviate heartburn symptoms.

28. Squeeze the tips of the toes for sinus relief. To relieve sinus pressure, try this reflexology technique: Squeeze the tips of the toes in a clockwise motion individually for about five seconds, and repeat on all 10 toes. The technique can increase blood circulation to the sinus and nose area, making breathing easier.

29. Stop a sneeze in its tracks. If you feel a sneeze coming on, push your tongue against the roof of your mouth directly behind your two front teeth; repeat the movement until the urge to sneeze fades.

30. Heal cuts with black pepper. The next time you have a minor cut, sprinkle some black pepper on it. Studies suggest that black pepper contains an antibacterial compound called piperine, which stimulates healing and helps blood coagulate faster.