Popular Home Remedies from your Childhood: Which Ones Work?

“Oil your hair overnight” 

“Drink a spoonful of castor oil” 

“Put turmeric for brighter skin” 

 

We’ve heard these little tips from our parents and grandparents since childhood, and we believe them to be the word of the gospel without a second thought. After all, these remedies have been passed down from generations, surely they must be faultless, right? While some of these tips are certainly rooted in science and ayurvedic principles of healing, many are actually well-known placebos, even going so far as to be harmful and counterproductive to the body. So put that weird concoction down, and check out these popular home remedies to find out (according to science, of course) which actually work, and which are just a load of nonsense: 

  • Overnight Oiling: Everyone’s experienced a good old-fashioned hot coconut oil scalp massage from their moms. But just how beneficial is it for hair growth? While scalp massages particularly with warm oil are a must for stimulating blood flow to the roots, thereby accelerating hair growth, leaving oil overnight will do little for preventing dryness. In fact, leaving oil in the hair can cause skin issues especially for those who have sensitive or oily skin. 

The solution? Use the right amount of oil for about 20 minutes to an hour and wash immediately afterward. Repeat the ritual twice a week for the best results. Make sure to maintain a healthy and nutritious diet filled with protein to prevent hair loss and damage.  

  • Miscellaneous Herbal Warm Beverages for a Cold/Cough/Flu: We’ve heard it all: mint, honey, lime, turmeric, the works. Sounds like an expensive cocktail, but does it heal a cold? There are several scientific studies to show the healing effects of ginger root in boiling water to ward off a sore throat and alleviate flu-induced nausea. Honey is also a well-known antimicrobial and antibacterial agent. A research study found that giving children 10 grams of honey at bedtime significantly improved their symptoms of cough. Drinking a glass of warm water with honey and lemon can definitely ease a sore throat. Turmeric, peppermint oil, and saltwater are also helpful in small quantities with warm water. So this remedy certainly checks out. 

Please note: Do not feed honey to children less than a year old. Honey naturally contains botulinum spores that cannot be tolerated by a baby’s developing immune system. 

  • Kajal for Eyesight: If you’ve ever seen an infant’s eyes boldened with a dark swipe of kajal, you have this myth to blame. Many Indians believe that wearing kajal can improve eyesight. However, this is not founded in any sort of scientific reality. The fact is that wearing kajal occasionally is fine. However, application of the beloved Indian eyeliner too often may result in chemical irritants infecting the eyes. Some brands even contain lead which in babies can cause severe damage to the brain and bone marrow. 

The solution? Choose natural or organic kajal brands that do not use any chemicals. Better yet, make your own kajal at home using charcoal and oil. Never share your kajal with others as it harbors and spreads infection. Be sure to use it sparingly and not daily. And do not use kajal for babies; there is no evidence to prove that it enhances eyesight. Instead, eat foods rich in vitamin A like carrots, mangoes, pumpkin, and squash. 

  • Fennel Seeds for Constipation: Constipation is caused by a lack of water and fiber in the diet. Fennel seeds are a rich source of natural fiber, which helps in the passing of stool. Having a glass of warm water with fennel or even chewing fennels seeds raw can give your body much-needed fiber, while also relieving gas and indigestion. Hence, this remedy definitely stands the test of time. In addition, it is important to drink plenty of water, get enough exercise, and include lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet to improve bowel movements. 
  • Daith Piercings as a Migraine Cure: Migraines are a common condition, affecting over 10 million people a year in India. It causes severe headaches often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. A common acupuncture remedy suggests that a piercing of the fold just above the entrance to the ear canal can activate a specific pressure point to relieve you of migraines permanently. However, this is nothing but a myth. Aside from purely anecdotal evidence, research has shown that such piercings are simply a placebo effect which causes one to believe that an inactive treatment can produce some benefits solely due to the patient’s psychological belief that it works, and not because it actually does. This prevents science, and hence us, from recommending the procedure. 

The solution? Though there is no known cure for permanently stopping migraines, there are several treatment options available to help ease pain and prevent future attacks. Seek attention from a healthcare professional so you can get the right medications. Try different options under medical supervision until you find the combination that works best for you. 

  • The Ole Spoonful of Castor Oil: We’ve saved the best for last. If you’ve been force-fed this demonic remedy as a child, it might get personal for you. Castor oil is 90% ricinoleic acid, which when swallowed acts as a laxative and a labour inducer. The oil does little else internally for the body. As an external agent, however, castor oil has multiple benefits in terms of moisturization, fungus prevention, and as an anti-inflammatory. It’s also great for the hair and scalp to stimulate hair growth and prevent damage. So we’re mixed on this one; as a topical agent it’s incredibly beneficial but as a swallowed health tonic it is just an outdated remedy.  If you’re looking for helpful health tonics, the best practices are to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, drink enough water, and get enough sleep. 

Elders know best, and we have been taught so many different countermeasures that actually ease our pain and improve our condition without having to make a midnight run to the doctor’s office. However, while not all remedies are complete and utter hogwash, it is important to view every little tip you hear with a slight bit of skepticism. Some tips might just be a waste of your time, but others may actively harm the body. Just because a remedy has been passed down for generations does not mean it’s true, so make sure to do enough research before turning panacea into practice. 

Know The Magical Benefits of Horse Gram and Keep Chronic Disease at Bay

Horse gram locally known as Kulthi-kalai in Bengali, Kullu in Tamil, Kulthi in Hindi has been in use since ages in Indian Ayurvedic system. Our grandparents often suggest consuming this beneficial bean but it gets neglected as it’s not so popular. So in this article let’s know certain therapeutic uses about horse gram and how it benefits us from various underlying diseases. Horse gram is a nutritionally rich bean than many other popularly consumed pulses in our daily diet.

Antimicrobial properties: Phytochemicals present in horsegram act against some human fungal and bacterial infections. It works wonders when overnight soaked kulthi dal water is consumed , curing urinal discharge like Leukorrhoea, urinal infections which concerns most of the women now-a-days.

Antioxidant , anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties: Many bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, tannins, flavonoids present in the seeds of horse gram acts as strong antioxidant thus preventing many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, hyperlipidemia, cancer etc. It limits activities of inflammatory mediators such as TNF-alpha, Interleukin-1beta etc.

Anti-diabetic properties: Horse gram possesses alpha amylase inhibitor which reduces insulin resistance and hyperglycaemia by slow release of glucose in the bloodstream. Thus it’s beneficial to diabetic patients.

Other benefits include: Horse gram removes kidney stones by dissolving through its anticalcifying properties. It is good for reducing triglyceride levels, LDL and thus increasing the HDL which is considered to be beneficial to cardiac diseases.

Hypertension in Telemedicine

Definition : Hypertension is defined as persistently elevated blood pressure (Systolic BP above 140mmHg and Diastolic BP above 90mmHg).  

Risks of Hypertension : Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of the body through arteries. Increased blood flow due to raised BP causes increased pressure on the arterial walls and also on the organs. The two main organs affected by prolonged hypertension are the heart and kidneys.

Cardiovascular risk – Hypertension is the most prevalent cardiovascular disorder affecting 20-50% of the adult population worldwide. Prolonged hypertension has been shown to increase incidence of 

  • Coronary Heart Disease including Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)
  • Stroke or Cerebrovascular events
  • Heart Failure
  • Atrial Fibrillation

Cardiovascular and stroke mortality increases linearly and progressively from BP levels as low as 115/75mmHg upwards.

Renal risk – Hypertension and kidneys share a bidirectional relationship. The kidneys participate in the development and maintenance of primary hypertension. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is a leading cause of secondary hypertension; on the other hand hypertension can lead to renal damage and even CKD.

Other risks – Persistent hypertension has been shown to be a risk factor for poor cognitive functions including dementia. Also there is damage to the retinas as the increased arterial pressure causes structural changes in the microcirculation. Hypertension also increases risk of peripheral vascular disease (damage to the arteries of arms and legs).

Things to monitor : Apparently patients of hypertension are very easily monitored via Telemedicine. It seems that only the readings of systolic and diastolic BP are enough to monitor the patient. However, some points must be kept in mind during a consultation for both doctors and the patients. 

History – While majority of hypertensive patients are suffering from primary or essential hypertension (don’t have any apparent cause), 5-10% patients have a specific underlying disease leading to their secondary hypertension. The most common causes of secondary hypertension include renal disease and pheochromocytoma (a tumour on the adrenal gland). Patients must not exclude any symptoms they are facing while the doctor takes a history. “Pain abdomen should be consulted with a Gastroenterologist and not a Cardiologist” will delay diagnosis.

Heart Rate – Hypertension may cause irregularities in heart rates. While Tachycardia (increased heart rate) may result from conditions like heart failure  and atrial fibrillation, Bradycardia (decreased heart rate) can be due to heart blocks of various degrees. It is recommended for all patients to have a digital sphygmomanometer (BP monitor) at home. Along with the BP, these monitors also show the heart rate. During a tele-consultation, the patient must keep note of the heart rate, while it is the doctor’s duty to enquire the same. 

Drug Intake –  A wide range of drugs lead to a rise in BP including certain Chemotherapeutic agents,  anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-depressants and many other groups of medicines. These must be accounted for during the tele-consultation. 

Blood monitoring : Apart from the history and examination (as much as possible), investigations play a huge role in Telemedicine; as in direct consultations, maybe more important in Telemedicine to make up for the lack of clinical examinations. Apart from a routine complete haemogram, serum uric acid and a lipid profile must be ordered for all hypertensive patients at least twice a year. Keeping Metabolic Syndrome (high BP + high fasting blood sugar + high triglyceride + low HDL + obesity) in mind, overweight patients must also be screened for Diabetes Mellitus and Hypothyroidism. 

For any patient with persistently abnormal heart rate (high or low), or complaining of palpitations, dizziness or blackouts, a 12 lead ECG must be ordered to rule out any arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm).

Therapies : Treatment of hypertension involves both pharmacological and non-pharmacological aspects. 

Non-pharmacological – Brisk walking for atleast 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week must be advised to all hypertensive patients. Diet plans should be given following co-morbid conditions (high blood sugar, high cholesterol etc).

Pharmacological – A wide range of drugs are available to treat hypertension. Most of them are enlisted as List A or List B by Telemedicine Society of India (https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/Telemedicine.pdf), hence can be prescribed through Telemedicine.

Limitations of Telemedicine : Alike any other disease, hypertension faces the same problem during tele-consultations – lack of physical examination. Pulse examination including the regularity and presence in peripheral vessels is one of the biggest challenges faced by a physician. Also, a fundoscopy to check the retinas cannot be done through Telemedicine. 

Conclusion : Hypertension is a multi-systemic chronic disease affecting multiple organs. Though telemedicine has its limitations, in today’s pandemic situation it is probably the safest option. However, it will require efforts from both the patient and the physician to make the consultation successful.