Myth or Fact

by Garreth Myers

Home remedies and natural methods of healing have been around for centuries, but they can also be a welcome breath of fresh air to our drug dependent generation. Popping pills from pain medications and cold medications to diet pills and morning-after pills seems to have become as natural as having a sip of water. We have developed an unhealthy dependence on pharmaceuticals. Before you write this off as another piece demonizing pharmaceuticals and singing praises for long lost traditional healing techniques, you should think again!

Over the past century, advances in medical science have lowered adult mortality rates, lowered infant mortality rates, raised the average life expectancy with vaccines and medications, and it has even eradicated the dreaded small pox, while severely limiting the impact of other diseases like malaria and influenza. Modern medicine also seems to be making amends for the population spurt it caused with effective birth control techniques. The problem arises because of our over-reliance and complete dependence on drugs not just for the treatment of conditions that are more serious or persistent, but for every possible condition from a common cold to back aches and headaches.

Home remedies and alternative therapies do offer viable alternatives, but with the vast amount of knowledge out there it can be pretty hard to discern what’s legitimate and what’s not. Here are some of the most popular remedies on the internet:

Clove Oil for Toothaches & Dental Care: Fact

Clove oil is often recommended as a ‘cure all’ for any kind of dental or gum disease. While it may not cure every condition out there, this remedy isn’t without merit. Clove oil has been used widely since ancient times and some of the claims have actually stood up to modern scientific research. Most of the healing effects of clove oil are attributed to eugenol, a chemical present in the oil, which is believed to lend it its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities.

Tea Tree Oil for Fungal Infections: Fact

Tea tree oil is often recommended as a cure for a variety of skin conditions, particularly for fungal infections, including nail infections. The claims suggest that tea tree oil exercises a fungicidal effect and surprisingly these claims have been supported by some studies. Studies have shown it to help in the treatment of fungal infections like ringworm. When dealing with finger or toenail infections however, it may be best to seek medical treatment as well.

Cold Steak for a Black Eye: Myth

This is another popular remedy that’s widely circulated on the internet. The truth is there’s little merit to the remedy and if you applied some logic you’d find that it goes against good wisdom and basic hygiene, while if you’re a vegan you’d find it downright unappetizing. Any cold compress will help relieve and facilitate healing, but none will prevent the black eye, whether it’s with or without the grease and animal protein.

Vinegar for Sunburns: Myth

Vinegar is another natural ingredient often recommended as some sort of miracle cure for almost every ailment. But how effective is it really? Apparently not very! The recommendation for vinegar on a sunburn is downright irresponsible because it’s simply going to worsen the problem. Instead try applying cool compresses to soothe the area and drink plenty of fluids and electrolyte solutions.

Cranberry Juice for UTIs: Fact

This is one remedy that you’ll find on every natural health site. While that in itself might arouse suspicion, the claim is actually supported by some studies. In some studies, women suffering from recurrent urinary tract infections were administered a daily concentrated cranberry extract. It was found that urinary infections did not recur in the women, in some cases even for years. The findings of these studies are not always conclusive however, so make it a point to seek medical treatment as well.

Nail Polish for Chigger Bites: Myth

The advice to cover up chigger bites with nail polish is freely dispensed as an effective home remedy on various sites. Here’s a newsflash though – ‘Nail polish isn’t really natural.’ Even if you were to use a ‘natural’ nail polish to cover up a chigger bite, it still wouldn’t be a good idea, because this simply doesn’t work. This remedy doesn’t work because the very premise upon which it is built is false. Chiggers don’t burrow beneath your skin, so covering your skin in nail polish isn’t going to suffocate them.

Garlic for Heart Disease: Fact

The health benefits of garlic have been widely touted, but how much of it is hype and how much for real? You’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that there have been a lot of studies supporting the health benefits of garlic and this is generating increased interest in research. In addition to its antibacterial properties garlic is also observed to have a cholesterol lowering effect and it helps regulate blood pressure.

Mayonnaise for Burns: Myth

Here’s another remedy that belongs on the quack list! This is one remedy you absolutely do not want to use. Any type of grease or oil is likely to cause further damage to already tender skin. Cool water may sound ineffective, but it’s still your best bet.

The most important thing to keep in mind when looking for home remedies and natural treatments is that you can’t trust everything you find. Always look for additional information and supporting studies to back the claims being made.


  1. Clove oil for toothaches gum disease dental care - Henry A Bartels, The effect of eugenol and oil of cloves on the growth of microorganisms, American Journal of Orthodontics and Oral Surgery, Volume 33, Issue 6, June 1947, Pages B458-B465, ISSN 0096-6347, 10.1016/S0096-6347(47)90017-3.
  2. Tea tree oil for toenail fungus - F. Pisseri, A. Bertoli, S. Nardoni, L. Pinto, L. Pistelli, G. Guidi, F. Mancianti, Antifungal activity of tea tree oil from Melaleuca alternifolia against Trichophyton equinum: An in vivo assay, Phytomedicine, Volume 16, Issue 11, November 2009, Pages 1056-1058, ISSN 0944-7113, 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.03.013.
  3. Cranberry juice for utis - David T. Bailey, Carol Dalton, F. Joseph Daugherty, Michael S. Tempesta, Can a concentrated cranberry extract prevent recurrent urinary tract infections in women? A pilot study, Phytomedicine, Volume 14, Issue 4, 10 April 2007, Pages 237-241, ISSN 0944-7113, 10.1016/j.phymed.2007.01.004.
  4. Garlic for blood pressure/cholesterol - Khalid Rahman, Chapter 16 - Garlic and Heart Health, In: Ronald Ross Watson and Victor R. Preedy, Editor(s), Bioactive Foods in Promoting Health, Academic Press, San Diego, 2010, Pages 235-244, ISBN 9780123746283, 10.1016/B978-0-12-374628-3.00016-5.
  5. Alexander N. Orekhov, Jörg Grünwald, Effects of garlic on atherosclerosis, Nutrition, Volume 13, Issues 7–8, July–August 1997, Pages 656-663, ISSN 0899-9007, 10.1016/S0899-9007(97)83010-9.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.

Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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