Examining the Effectiveness of Popular Home Remedies

Full article published in MegaZEN Volume 7.

For minor health problems, it’s always best to try to help yourself at home first before taking lots of prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications. The natural way of healing small health issues is always the best way. Hundreds of home remedies claiming to help treat countless physical problems have been around for generations. While some people swear by them, how many actually work? Have they been researched, and what does the science say? Here, we take a closer look at several popular home remedies.

Saltwater Sinus Bath

Treating allergies and sinus issues with saltwater came out of ancient India. It was thought that irrigating the nasal passages with saltwater could help remove mucus and reduce chronic inflammation. As it turns out, nasal irrigation does exactly what it promises to do. In fact, those who opt for traditional nasal irrigation instead of OTC or prescription nasal sprays experience greater relief.

Researchers from the University of Michigan Health System followed a group of people with a history of chronic sinus issues for eight weeks. Half were taught how to irrigate their sinuses with a saltwater flush, while the others were given a saline spray. Results showed that the irrigation group experienced clinically significant improvement in their symptoms and quality of life, whereas the spray group did not. They also experienced a 50% decrease in the frequency of symptoms when compared to the spray group.1 Another study found that a saltwater nasal flush improved the symptoms of children suffering from colds and flu, who required fewer medications and missed less school when compared to children who used medication alone.2 Neti pots are traditionally used for gentle nasal irrigation and can be purchased for about $10.

For What Ails You: Home Remedies

Chewing Gum to Restore Bowel Function

The act of chewing triggers many other processes in the body. It’s long been thought that chewing gum can help stimulate bowel function. Research now proves that to be true. A study published in the Archives of Surgery has found that patients who chewed gum for one hour, three times per day, after abdominal surgery significantly hastened the resumption of normal bowel function and reduced their hospital stay.3 This is important because while eating and drinking can encourage the return of bowel function, it often causes nausea or discomfort after surgery or in patients who are constipated.

A study from Japan also found that chewing gum can stimulate intestinal activity, particularly after laparoscopic colon surgery,4 while other studies have shown that intestinal mobility returns 26 hours sooner after large incision surgery when patients chew gum.5 Recent research has also shown that chewing gum for 30 minutes after a meal can halt acid reflux.6

Cranberry Juice for Bladder Infections

Cranberry juice has long been held to help prevent urinary tract infections (UTI) and bladder infections, but no one really knew why. Skeptics have claimed that it’s the fluid flushing through the bladder rather than any special quality of the juice itself that’s the real secret or the fact that the juice makes the urine slightly more acidic.

Research now shows that cranberry juice is very special in that it changes the thermodynamic properties of bacteria, creating an energy barrier that prevents the microorganisms from latching onto cells in the urinary tract. More than 10 studies have shown that a daily dose of cranberry juice significantly reduced bladder infections in women who frequently suffered from them. Blueberry juice, which has similar properties to cranberry juice also worked, while grapefruit, mango, orange, and pineapple did not.7 To maximize the benefits, always be sure to choose 100% cranberry juice that says not from concentrate on the label. Regular doses of cranberry juice also provide healthy antioxidants and malic acid, which helps prevent kidney and gallstones from forming.

Read the full article originally published in MegaZEN Vol. 7. Please purchase MegaZEN Vol. 7 (Print) or digital version below:


[1] Pynnonen, M et al. (2007). Nasal saline for chronic sinonasal symptoms: a randomized controlled trial. Archives of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, 133(11), 115-120, (http://bit.ly/2yG71h9)

[2] Slapak, I et al. (2008). Efficacy of isotonic nasal wash (seawater) in the treatment and prevention of rhinitis in children. Archives of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, 134(1), 67-74, (http://bit.ly/2yJzhPY)

[3] Purkayastha, S et al. (2008). Meta-analysis of randomized studies evaluating chewing gum to enhance postoperative recovery following colectomy. Archives of Surgery, 143(8), 788-793, (http://bit.ly/2YM5Ibd)

[4] Takayuki, A et al. (2002). Gum chewing enhances early recovery from postoperative ileus after laparoscopic colectomy. Journal of the American College of Surgeons, 195(1), 30-32, (http://bit.ly/2YtVrVY)

[5] Schuster, R et al. (2006). Gum chewing reduces ileus after elective open sigmoid colectomy. Archives
of Surgery, 141(2), 174-176, (http://bit.ly/2GRdwT3)

[6] Moazzez, R et al. (2005). The effect of chewing sugar-free gum on gastro-esophageal reflux. Journal
of Dental Research, 84(11), 224-231, (http://bit.ly/2GOCL8w)

[7] “How Cranberry Juice Can Prevent Urinary Tract Infections,” Science Daily, (July 25, 2008), (http://bit.ly/33cz9Xf)