The Covid-19 pandemic has led to many spending a lot more time at home, making it a great opportunity to discover that these otherwise mundane things have surprising secondary functions. A number of common household products may even contribute to the improvement or maintenance of your bodily health in ways you would not expect.
In addition to being a very useful baking ingredient, baking soda can also provide benefits outside of the kitchen. A common use for baking soda is as a toothpaste. This can help to reduce bacteria in your mouth, as well as whiten teeth. Tiny colonies of bacteria called biofilms develop on teeth, an example being plaque. The slightly rough texture of baking soda helps to remove these biofilms which reduces the amount of bacteria on the teeth. Less bacteria on the teeth and gums can prevent damage such as gingivitis and cavities. The slightly abrasive quality of baking soda also aids in teeth whitening by helping to remove stains on the teeth. Furthermore, baking soda is basic, meaning it has a high pH level. It has been shown that rinsing your mouth with a simple solution of water and baking soda can raise the pH level in your mouth. Many bacteria thrive in a lower pH environment, so doing this may also prevent bacterial growth.
Baking soda can also be used for a number of topical purposes. For example, when mixed with water to create a paste it can be rubbed on the skin to ease itching and pain from poison ivy, bug bites, stings and even splinters.
Lemons provide us with a huge range of health benefits when eaten or juiced. Lemons are a great source of vitamin C, with one lemon containing 51% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Eating foods rich in vitamin C has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, making lemons a great food for supporting heart health. Vitamin C is also a great immune booster, which during the pandemic has become a priority for many. The citric acid in lemons also may help to protect against kidney stones, as it increases both the volume and pH of urine, an environment in which kidney stones are less likely to form.
Lemons also promote your body’s iron uptake from the food you eat. The amount of iron that is taken up from fruits and vegetables is much lower than that from meats and fish. Lemons help to increase this absorption, thus helping to prevent anemia.
The pulp of lemons contains a lot of soluble fiber, which slows down the digestion of sugars and starches. This slowed digestion can prevent high spikes in blood glucose levels and help to keep them stable.
Hydrogen peroxide is a product commonly found in a bathroom cabinet, or under the sink to be used as a disinfectant or cleaning product. It is sometimes suggested that hydrogen peroxide can be used to clean out small cuts or scrapes, however this can sometimes worsen inflammation or scarring so it is not recommended for this purpose. However, another use of hydrogen peroxide is to help with earwax buildup. Putting a few drops of hydrogen peroxide diluted with water into your ear before showering may help to loosen up earwax. Once out of the shower lay to one side to allow anything to flow out of the ear, and then towel dry the outside of the ear. If the problem persists, be sure to consult your doctor for further help.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more frequent handwashing and constant application of hand sanitizer has become the new normal, and sometimes this can lead to dry skin, particularly on the hands. Coconut oil provides us with a great way to moisturize the skin, and also has a number of antibacterial properties itself.
It is important to be mindful though, as having a more oily skin type while using oil on the skin may lead to clogged pores. Furthermore, some suggest that putting coconut oil in your hair before showering may help protect it from damage. Coconut oil can also be a great alternative to butter and other fats to use in cooking to boost heart health, as it can decrease levels of harmful cholesterol in the body.
Gargling with salt water has been a home remedy for minor sore throats caused by cold, flu and even allergies for a very long time. While it is not a cure for these symptoms, it is still suggested by doctors to be an efficient way to relieve mild discomfort today. Similarly, gargling salt water can help to reduce the pain and inflammation caused by canker sores or mouth ulcers. A salt water solution is easy to make. Dissolve about ¼ to ½ teaspoons of salt into 8 ounces of warm water. To improve the taste of the salt water you may add honey, lemon or anything of your preference. Gargling up to two times a day can help relieve your symptoms, but it is important to take care not to swallow it as salt water can dehydrate you and lead to other problems if consumed in excess.
Tea bags make for an easy and affordable warm or cold compress to put on the eyes and skin, and their size and shape make them perfectly comfortable to hold on these areas. Some studies also suggest that the caffeine content of tea bags contribute to reducing redness and swelling of the skin and eyes. The most common teas used in this way include black tea, green tea, chamomile and calendula tea.
To use a tea bag as a cold compress, steep it in hot water for 5-10 minutes. Once it has cooled squeeze out most of the liquid from it before leaving it to completely cool in the refrigerator. Once the tea bags are cool enough to touch, they can easily be used as a cold compress on your eyes or skin. By resting a cold tea bag on your eyes for 10-15 minutes, dilated blood vessels in the skin will restrict slightly. This can lessen the appearance of dark bags and puffiness under the eyes, as well as soothe redness in the eyes. Cold tea bags can also be used to alleviate the symptoms of pink eye (conjunctivitis) by reducing the dryness and inflammation caused by the infection.
Steeped tea bags can also be used as warm compresses. It is important to let the tea bags cool enough to prevent any burning of the skin, but this can be done outside of the fridge to ensure they remain slightly warm. A warm tea bag compress can be very helpful in helping to treat a stye. Styes are red painful lumps that form on the eyes usually due to an infection. Applying a warm tea bag on the eye for 10-15 minutes, two to three times a day can help to drain pus from the stye and promote faster healing. This same process can help with other eye infections such as blepharitis or a chalazion. Furthermore, as the world becomes more used to working or studying for long periods of time from home on our computers, we also may face occasional dry eyes. A warm tea bag placed over the eye can help to stimulate oil release from glands which can reduce dryness in the eyes.
Many of us in the past few months may have experienced difficulty in finding hand sanitizer available in stores. Rubbing alcohol is a great antiseptic to use on surfaces to clean and disinfect, but can also be mixed with an aloe vera gel to be used as a homemade hand sanitizer. It is important to ensure that the alcohol you are using is at least 60% alcohol in order to be effective. The aloe vera, or something similar, will make the alcohol less harsh on your skin and prevent it from drying out.
Applying a small amount of rubbing alcohol to a tick bite can help loosen up the grip the tick has on your skin, making it easier to remove. Furthermore, applying a small cloth soaked in rubbing alcohol to an area where you are experiencing muscle soreness can help to alleviate some of the pain. The alcohol creates a cooling sensation, and also stimulates blood flow which reduces aches and pains. Always be careful if applying alcohol to the skin as it can dry it out if too much is used. Another great use can be found by combining one part alcohol with three parts water in a very well-sealed plastic bag and freezing it. This will leave you with a shapeable ice pack that can be used for icing minor injuries. Alcohol is very flammable so it should never be used near an open flame, and it should never be ingested.
Although these items that you most likely have in your house right now can provide some interesting and convenient health benefits, it is always important to consult your doctor if you are feeling ill, or have any serious injuries before attempting to treat yourself.