By Jessica, Pure Matters

When I have a minor health problem, my first course of action is to Google home remedies for it. Always. If it’s not a serious condition, I consider a trip to the doctor a last resort. As I’ve mentioned before, I have a lot of bizarre health problems, which means I’ve done not just a lot of Googling, but also a lot of trial-and-error when it comes to home remedies. Luckily, my pantry is usually stocked with everything I need to practice folk medicine at home. Here’s a rundown of six common ingredients, what the claims are, and which ones I can vouch for (or against).

Apple Cider Vinegar

The list of claims about apple cider vinegar is a mile long -- so long, in fact, that you have to take most of them with a grain of salt. Sorry, Internet, but I don’t think one tablespoon of ACV daily is going to prevent me from ever getting cancer, as nice as that idea may sound. But for just about anything skin-related -- blemishes, dark spots, plantar warts, psoriasis -- it’s a miracle tonic. Not to mention acid reflux and heartburn. Here are some of my tried-and-true remedies:

  • Heartburn/Acid Reflux: At the first sign of symptoms, drink one tablespoon in eight ounces of water. Repeat until symptoms subside.
  • Blemishes/Dark Spots/Psoriasis: Using a Q-tip, dab ACV on affected area before bed and leave it on overnight. You could do it during the day, but then you’d smell like apple cider vinegar.
  • Plantar Warts: Moisten a cotton ball with ACV and tape it onto wart for one hour. Do it daily until warts turns black and falls off. I had one on my foot and it was gone in two days using this method.

Basically, anything skin-related gets the apple cider vinegar treatment before anything else. I use the organic, unpasteurized stuff, so I can’t speak to the regular grocery-store variety. And consider this remedy doctor-approved. A doctor friend of mine said, “Apple cider vinegar is amazing. Period.”

Clove Oil

Hands-down, clove oil is the best remedy for any pain in the mouth -- toothache, gum pain, etc. And it tastes so much better than Anbesol. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest gargling with it is also good for sore throats, but I’ve never tried it.

Coconut Oil

Like apple cider vinegar, coconut oil is great for anything skin-related, especially blemishes. It may sound counterintuitive, but it works. I prefer it to ACV because it smells delicious. True story: I actually use it as an overnight face moisturizer in the drier months. An unproven-by-me claim about coconut oil: playing it topically can help fight fungal or viral skin infections.


Everyone knows that ginger ale can help cure a stomachache, but I prefer to go straight to the source. When experiencing nausea, ginger tea is a great cure. I steep about a teaspoon of grated ginger per 8-ounce cup. If the taste is too strong, try adding some raw honey, which is also good for calming an angry stomach.


I don’t get sore throats often, but if I do get them, I really get them. And salt is a lifesaver. Dissolving a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and then gargling provides almost instant relief. And though I’ve never gotten on board with the neti pot, my husband swears that irrigating his nasal passages with salt water every morning keeps him healthy throughout the flu season.

Umeboshi Plums

When I was in culinary school, our instructors let us in on a little secret -- these pickled Asian plums were the best hangover cure ever. Sold in either a paste or whole, they brought relief to many a hungover student who couldn’t make it through a day in the kitchen after a night of drinking.

One thing I’ve found to be true when using home remedies is that they aren’t as strong as their over-the-counterparts. So they may take a little longer to work. I tend to think it balances out, as I know I’m not putting anything into my body that will give me any harmful side effects. And if you remember nothing else I’ve written, remember this: whatever your minor health problem, try apple cider vinegar first.