Have you ever tried gargling salt water to get rid of a sore throat? Before you play at-home pharmacist, we uncover new research on health remedies that reveal the truth on whether they actually work.
Pharmacyoutlet.co.uk has surveyed more than 2,000 UK adults on health remedies that they put faith in, from common beliefs to the most bizarre theories. Here is what they found:
- 56% of UK adults – 29 million people – have gargled salty water to get rid of a sore throat, and 68% of those believe it works
- The other most common health tricks people rely on are: sweating out a cold (47%); having a nightcap to help them sleep (44%); and “hair of the dog” (drinking a small amount of alcohol the next day) (36%)
- A third of people (32% or 16.6 million) admit to eating carrots to improve their eyesight, but just 25% of those actually think it helps
- Some of the more bizarre health remedies people try to include: applying butter to burnt skin (19%); sleeping in socks filled with onions to shake off a cold (8%); and rubbing turmeric on their scalp to combat baldness (7% of men)
The online pharmacist and EPS specialist, uncovered 12 remedies and only 3 of which could be beneficial. Gargling warm salt water can provide symptomatic relief for a sore throat as well as preventative measures by pulling fluids out of tissues.
Putting 2 or 3 drops of olive oil in your ear can help remove earwax and rubbing lemon juice onto an insect bite can relieve itching as a short-term measure.
However, eating carrots to improve eye sight, having a nightcap to help you sleep, applying butter to a burn to relieve pain, and sweating out a cold are all considered myths with no proven evidence.
Are there any health risks involved?
It might seem like harmless experimentation, but some of these tips and tricks can potentially worsen your symptom and possibly be dangerous.
Hitesh Dodhia (Superintendent Pharmacist at PharmacyOutlet.co.uk) spoke to us exclusively about the risks and gave us his ultimate conclusion:
“Home remedies can sometimes be the “go to” solution when people are suffering from a minor health problem such as a cold or flu. And while it’s true that some home remedies such as gargling salt water to cure a sore throat can actually have a positive medical effect, others can be unfounded, misinformed and, in some cases, actually do more harm than good.
“Of course, sometimes home remedies can provide the placebo effect, a supposed improvement triggered through just the belief that a treatment is actually helping. For instance, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that putting onions in your socks overnight cures a common cold; however, PharmacyOutlet.co.uk’s research shows that while just 8% of Brits have used this treatment, a massive 51% believe it actually works. Here, the placebo affect is clearly in play.
“Ultimately, some home remedies such as this can be harmless, others can actually be detrimental to your health. For example, relying on the ‘hair of the dog’ when hungover actually worsens the situation in the long term and will damage your liver.
“Whether choosing to rely on home remedies out of nostalgia or misplaced faith, the truth is that almost nothing beats using a medical professional when feeling unwell. Of course, you shouldn’t rush to A&E when you have a cold, but pharmacies – and in more serious cases GPs – provide care that supersedes the need for home remedies. After all, when it comes to your health, why bet on an unreliable home remedy when you can get a proper diagnosis and cure.”
Besides the odd few that might work, trust professional advice and be cautious of fact from fiction.