Your first steps after an injury are always toward the medicine cabinet, but what happens if you forgot to restock the Neosporin? Head to the kitchen: Items in your refrigerator and pantry can double as a backup first-aid kit. And while serious injuries or ailments should be treated by a doctor, these five edible remedies could help patch you up in a pinch . . . if you're bold enough to try them.
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1. Eat garlic for colds
Ignore the side effect of bad breath. "Garlic boosts the immune system, so eating a baked head of garlic as soon as you start to feel a cold coming on can help you recover faster," says Priscilla Abercrombie, Ph.D., a nurse practitioner at the University of California San Francisco's Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.
Drizzle a head of garlic with olive oil and bake until soft. You can put it on bread or crackers, but you'd have to eat the whole thing to win the immune boost, Abercrombie says. Feel a sneeze coming on? Try these 10 Ways to Stop a Cold in Its Tracks.
2. Stop nosebleeds with bacon
That's right: Packing your nose with strips of cured bacon can help stop the bleeding, according to a 2012 study in the Annals of Otolaryngology. This was actually the common treatment used by doctors a century ago for nasal hemorrhages, but since the bacon would be left for about five days, the bacteria caused all sorts of infections, and doctors switched to more sanitary methods. We hope this goes without saying, but remove the bacon as soon as the bleeding stops.
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3. Boil ginger for nausea
Mom would always give you ginger ale, but real ginger tea will help soothe an upset stomach better and faster, says Abercrombie. In fact, a University of Rochester study found that as little as 1/4 of a teaspoon of ginger cut nausea by 40 percent in queasy chemotherapy patients. Peel ginger root and put two slices into 1 cup of water, instructs Abercrmbie. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and let it cool. Drink it like a tea.
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4. Spread honey over a cut
It may be sticky, but it works: A 2012 study in the International Wound Journal found that using honey as a secondary dressing can help cuts heal, and reduce pain. While the pain mechanism is hard to pin down, researchers point to honey's well-established antibacterial properties for why, in the study, a layer significantly helped to keep open wounds clear of infection.
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5. Treat swelling with black tea
Warm water is the best way to immediately treat a burn, according to a 2013 University of Geneva study. But you can help minimize the swelling by placing a wet black tea bag over the area, Abercrombie suggests. A 2011 study in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research attributes this effect to black tea's anti-inflammatory properties.
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