St. Xavier's College (Autonomous),
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
Ever since the COVID lockdown, people have resorted to doing many things from the comfort of their houses, from attending meetings to schooling, from working out to learning new recipes, home remedies however is not a new phenomenon. These miraculous ‘healers’, which are conveniently found at home, have been used since before doctors were a thing. So it is only natural for people to be unopposed to even the craziest of remedies. A home remedy can be medically defined as “a simply prepared medication or tonic often of unproven effectiveness administered without prescription or professional supervision”. Enough stress cannot be put on “without prescription or professional supervision”, as, it is because of this missing medical supervision, people have convinced themselves over the years, that all home remedies actually WORK, even the craziest ones, so in hopes of ensuring that home remedies cause more good than harm, I have compiled a list of extreme home remedies, listing those that work and those that don’t.
1. Ingesting Kerosene:
Doctors believe that the rural population of central India blindly believes that drinking the insignificant yet significant amount of 10ml of KEROSENE, can treat a person immediately after a paralysis attack. Kerosene, in the days of old, was the most popular “cure”. If iron nails were the cause of a cut, one would soak their foot in kerosene. If one pulled a muscle, kerosene was rubbed into the skin. If one had a cold, a drop of kerosene with sugar in a spoon was ingested. Cuts and wounds were rubbed with kerosene. But since education levels have risen, we have also come to know that kerosene is a highly corrosive liquid, and has proven to cause kerosene poisoning when absorbed through the dermis. An article in The Times of India has gone on record saying that “Such remedies (like drinking kerosene) never work, rather they become life-threatening in serious cases. In central India, it's not easy to reach a hospital in emergency situations and sometimes affordability is also a problem. So people tend to get drawn to such practices.”
However, this idea of ingesting kerosene is still practiced as a tried and true ritual even in urban India. While people seem to believe that it does treat paralysis attacks, the highly corrosive nature of kerosene tends to cause irreversible damage to the other organs of the body.
2. Ear Candling:
Formation of ear wax is a very common and natural phenomenon, however since the amount of formation of wax varies from person to person, while it might not be that much of a deal to some people for others, the wax can sometimes be problematic. The local ENT has a very quick and common method of removing the wax, however, as always people tend to search for do-it-yourself ways. One such method commonly floating around is ear candling. It is a process by which a burning hollow candle apparently creates a vacuum pulling out the earwax. This method in reality involves debris of the candle along with soot and vapor to condense onto the inside of the tube which people believe to be candle wax. This method can cause harm to the ear canal and the eardrum because of the heat of the vapor and also because of the soot and the debris from the candle that deposits into the ear.
Hence, this is not an effective way to remove ear wax, instead consult your local ENT, who will do the very inexpensive procedure for you.
3. Garlic clove in the ear:
Sticking a clove of garlic into the ear is understood to cure ear infections, thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties and elaborate chemical studies that have confirmed that multiple substances in garlic do fight bacteria, however sticking a clove within the ear to cure an infection is like trying to light a matchstick without striking its against the matchbox, or putting food near your mouth to eat it. An “ear infection” – more properly called an “otitis media” is an infection within the area of the center ear cavity, which lies behind the eardrum. Unless you somehow manage to shove a clove in far enough to burst the eardrum and press on through (doing this is often not advisable), garlic placed within the ear cannot get to the location of the infection. But here’s the catch, if you put a clove of garlic in your ear the infection will go away in a few days, however, that is only because an infection in the ear can be cured naturally with no external treatment.
On the contrary, if the cause of ear pain is otitis externa, putting a garlic clove could hypothetically cure it, but this external infection of the ear canal is very painful, and pushing a foreign object into the ear canal will only cause more pain.
4. Eggs to cure Bruises:
An old Korean cure for completely healing bruises, is to simply put a hard-boiled egg on it? It's a little more complex than that. See, when a person has a freshly obtained bruise, cold compresses are usually used for the first 48 hours to bring down the swelling, so the softness of the peeled hard-boiled egg helps to move according to the curvature of the affected area. And after 48 hrs a heat-hard-boiled egg is actually effective to disperse the red blood cells and reduce the bruising. Now you might be asking why an egg, is it ideal? because of the softness that easily molds to the curvature of the body and also because of its heat and cold retaining properties.
So yes, anytime you bruise yourself using a hard-boiled egg, can be your go-to.
Easy directions to follow this procedure can be found through the link below:
5. Duct Tape Wart Removal:
This next home remedy is for those ugly warts that pop out as a result of a viral infection in the body and can usually take months to disappear. A quick remedy going around is duct taping the area. Now many many may think this is highly unsanitary, but it is proven to be more effective than the cryotherapy method. This method however has a specific procedure to minimize other types of infection or rashes. The science behind this method is that the duct tape blocks the oxygen flow to the affected area, effectively killing the virus. For this method to work the person must continue the process for 8 weeks, as opposed to the months it takes for the wart to naturally fall off.
The link below shows the steps to the procedure:
As all good has its bad, this method has a few side effects that especially affect people with sensitive skin, like rashes, eczema, redness, itching, etc.
Home remedies are the sort of thing where every family has one or the other version of the same remedy, that they believe in with all their hearts and souls. This sometimes leads to what is known as a placebo effect. This placebo effect is based on the relationship between the mind and the body and depends on the person’s expectation of the treatment. This can alter the results of the treatment, hence causing the person to believe that the remedy actually works when it may not work in reality.
Keeping all this in mind, it is always recommendable to do a lot of research before experimenting on yourself.