The Wilen sisters have been using home remedies all their lives, and for the last quarter century, they've been researching and writing about them as well.
Bottom Line/Personal asked the Wilens to share the remedies they use most often for a variety of health challenges. The sisters may not always be able to explain why the remedies work -- but they work. All use ingredients readily available in most kitchens, supermarkets or health-food stores. Of course, always check with your doctor before taking any dietary supplement or herb.
At the first sign of a sore or scratchy throat, mix two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in six to eight ounces of warm water. Take a mouthful, gargle with it and spit it out -- then swallow a mouthful. Repeat the gargle/swallow pattern until there's nothing left in the glass. Do this every hour until your throat is better. We usually feel better within two or three hours.
We eat chicken soup when we feel a cold coming on. Aside from it being a comfort food, it helps prevent a cold from becoming full-blown and/or it shortens the duration of one. We either prepare the soup from scratch, adding lots of veggies (carrots, onions, parsnip, celery, string beans) or we do the next best thing -- buy packaged soup found in the supermarket's frozen food section, then add vegetables. In either case, we add the most potent and health-restoring ingredient -- garlic. To derive the full healing powers of garlic, add one or two finely minced raw cloves after the warmed soup is in the bowl.
A simple first-aid procedure to stop a minor cut or gash from bleeding is to cover the cut with cayenne pepper from your spice cabinet. Gently pour on the pepper. Yes, it will sting. And yes, the bleeding will stop quickly.
If you must be away from a restroom, prepare slippery elm tea (we use the inner bark powder available at health-food stores). Pour eight ounces of just-boiled water over a heaping teaspoon of the powder. Let it steep for about eight minutes, then strain the liquid into a mug and drink it. It works quickly. For severe cases, do not strain it -- just drink this soothing, gloppy tea.
We use our mother's remedy. As soon as the burning starts, eat a handful of almonds -- that's about one ounce -- and the heartburn stops immediately. Our mom used dry-roasted almonds. We buy raw almond slivers.
A sty is an inflamed swelling on the eyelid. This classic folk remedy sounds ridiculous but has worked for us many times. The minute you feel as though you're getting a sty, take a 14-carat gold ring (wash it first) and rub it several times across your eyelid every 15 minutes or so, until that “styish” feeling disappears... along with the sty. In our experience, it works right away.
Ever reach for a pot handle that's surprisingly hot? How about grabbing the wrong side of a plugged-in iron? We have a unique way of treating these minor first-degree burns, where the skin is painful and red but unbroken. It's a form of acupressure. Place your thumb on the back side of your earlobe, and the burned fingertips on the front side of the same earlobe. Press firmly. After a minute, the pain is gone.
Our new best friends are nuts -- in this case, walnuts. They're rich in serotonin, the brain chemical that calms anxiety and allows us to turn off the pressures of the day to get a good night's sleep. Eat a handful (one ounce) of raw walnuts before going to bed. It's important to chew each mouthful thoroughly, until the nut pieces are ground down.