Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Chances are you probably have multiple cabinets in your house filled with assorted creams, pills, potions and lotions to solve any number of afflictions, aches and other assorted minor maladies. If you’re anything like me, the clutter and sheer volume of precious household space taken up by all those tubes and bottles makes you more than a little crazy. I can’t help but wonder how people dealt with all those minor issues before we had pharmacies and mega-stores that sell every kind of cure imaginable. Surely there must be simpler ways to address some of these issues with items we already have in the house, right?

You could try asking your grandmother how she dealt with chapped lips or sunburn way back when or, living as we do in the age of information, you could go online and start googling natural home remedies. I will warn you up front that I haven’t tried most of these. But next time one of these issues come up, you can bet that I am going to start hunting through my house for these items and hope they do the trick.


Can’t sleep? Prevailing wisdom always suggested having a glass of warm milk before bed, but if you prefer something that tastes way better, try eating some cherries, which contain melatonin, a hormone that has been shown to assist with sleep. Thankfully both dried cherries and cherry juice are good stand-ins for fresh cherries which aren’t always available year round.

Got gout? Cherries to the rescue again. Whether it is fresh or dried cherries or drinking cherry juice (real, 100% cherry juice, not the kind with sugar and other stuff added), gout sufferers have found that ingesting the red stuff really does make a difference.

Despite Wilford Brimley’s sage advice, oatmeal’s usefulness extends way beyond breakfast. Looking to take the itch out of sunburn, chicken pox or poison ivy? Grind oats into a fine powder and pack into a cloth pouch, suspending it under the stream of your faucet so that the water runs through the oatmeal powder. They say that patting cooled, cooked oatmeal on the face is a great cure for acne, though I’m guessing it might be hard to find a teenager who is actually willing to wear oatmeal. Should you come across one, have him or her spread the oatmeal on his or her face for 15 minutes before rinsing off. Or toss two cups of oatmeal, a spoonful of honey and a cup of milk into your bathwater for a relaxing bath that will leave you with softer skin.

Move over Compound W, there is an unusual but effective way to remove warts using items you probably already have in the house: water, an emery board and duct tape. Yes, duct tape. Put a piece of duct tape on the wart and leave it covered for six days. Remove the duct tape, soak the wart in water and rub gently with an emery board. Leave the wart open for 12 hours and then start the cycle again with a fresh piece of duct tape. Note: it could take about two months for the process to accomplish its goal.

It may be sweater weather now, but sooner or later summer will be here, bringing abundant sunshine, swimming, barbeques and mosquitoes. While for years calamine lotion was the cure of choice for itches, I can’t say that I remember it doing more than painting my skin a sickly shade of pink, making me both itchy and funny looking. Next time you find yourself scratching away after some mosquito enjoyed you for lunch, pull out some mint toothpaste, dab it onto the bite. The white toothpaste spots might still look a little funny but it should hopefully stop the itching.


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Sandy Eller is a freelance writer who writes for numerous websites, newspapers, magazines and private clients. She can be contacted at