To prevent pimples, dab on a little pure tea tree oil twice daily. Scientists at New York’s University of Rochester say its powerful anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties can destroy blemish-causing bacteria and heal existing breakouts in as little as three weeks.
Gesture while you chat and you’ll think more clearly. Hand motions kick-start production of acetylcholine, University of Chicago studies show, and this neurotransmitter instantly revs up brain function to increase concentration and focus.
Add a pat of butter to your next serving of cooked veggies. Why? It will double your absorption of their immunity-boosting compounds called carotenoids to help you better fend off cold viruses, say researchers at the University of California. In fact, scientists say enjoying two cups of buttered veggies daily can cut your risk of colds 25 percent or more in just 12 weeks.
Rosemary oil, a potent, natural anti-fungal, can quickly destroy the yeast that causes flaking, according to studies at Turkey’s University of Selcuk. To end dandruff, experts suggest mixing five drops of rosemary oil into a dollop of your favorite shampoo, then massage thoroughly into your scalp once daily. Once dandruff subsides—typically two weeks--treat once weekly to prevent future flare-ups.
Garlic’s natural compound, allicin, has been shown to fight bacteria as effectively as penicillin, report State University of New York researchers. To get relief, place two drops of warm (not hot) garlic oil into your achy ear once daily for five days straight. Look for garlic oil in health food stores--or make your own mix. Simply simmer two cloves of crushed garlic in a half cup of extra virgin olive oil for two minutes, strain, then let cool until comfortably warm before applying.
Soaking your tootsies in black tea for 20 minutes once a week can prevent this embarrassing problem, says Jennifer Zartarian, N.D., a wellness coordinator at New York’s Long Island College Hospital. The reason: “Tea contains tannins—compounds which naturally kill odor-causing bacteria, plus they’re also astringents, so they reduce problematic perspiration.” To make your own odor-taming brew: Steep two black tea bags in eight cups of water for 20 minutes, let cool for two hours, then start soaking.
Spoon up a half a cup of fresh pineapple daily. Why? USDA researchers say this tropical pick is packed with proteolytic enzymes—natural digestive aids that reduce inflammation in the intestinal tract and speed the breakdown of proteins, dialing down gassiness in just 72 hours.
Firmly massaging the back of your head—the area at the base of your skull--for two minutes can cut the pain of a stress-headache as much as 57 percent in just five minutes, according to experts at Florida’s University of Miami. Scientists say rubbing this area rapidly activates key acupressure points, relaxing tight muscles to dampen pain.
Turn on some tunes! Eight-six percent of people nod off faster if they spend 10 minutes each night lying in bed listening to soothing music while they gently stretch their back, legs, arms, fingers and toes, say Harvard researchers. Why? Scientists believe treating overly-tight muscles to a relaxing stretch while listening to calming music offers a double-duty effect. It dampens the production of stress hormones, lowering heart rate, muscle tension and anxiety to help the body more quickly slip into sleepy mode.
Ease aches by cycling. According to researchers at Tucson’s University of Arizona, cycling’s smooth, repetitive motions actually thicken cartilage in the hip, knee, ankle and foot joints, helping to reverse joint damage and cut a person’s risk of further trouble by 43 percent. Their advice: Strive to cycle at least 12 minutes daily.
Sipping two glasses of homemade lemonade daily can cut your risk of kidney stones as much as 87 percent in one year, say scientists at the University of California, San Diego. Why? Lemon juice is packed with citrate, say experts, a natural compound that keeps calcium dissolved in urine so it can’t clump and form kidney stones.
If you’d like to get the health perks of consuming calcium-rich dairy, but milk upsets your tummy, opt for three servings of yogurt or hard cheeses (like Cheddar and Swiss) daily, instead. This switch has been shown to relieve bloating, gassiness and other uncomfortable symptoms for 82 percent of people within one week, report Tufts University researchers. The reason: Symptom-triggering lactose is broken down when dairy is aged or fermented.
Dab canker and cold sores with a bit of unpasteurized honey four times daily and they’ll heal 43 percent faster than if you used prescription Acyclovir cream, say researchers at the Dubai Specialized Medical Center in the United Arab Emirates. Raw honey’s natural potent enzymes zap inflammation and speed healing of damaged tissues, study authors say.
Consuming one ounce of leafy greens (like spinach or kale) daily can help you avoid them entirely. Scientists credit these veggie’s hefty stores of vitamin K, a nutrient that nixes bleeds by keeping the tiny capillaries lining the nose healthy and strong—and helps kick-start quick clotting if a blood vessel becomes damaged.
Women are twice as likely to get pregnant if they spend 30 minutes daily meditating. Why? It significantly dampens production of fertility-zapping stress hormones within three months, say Harvard researchers.
Downing a multivitamin (containing 1,200 milligrams of calcium and 400 milligrams of magnesium) daily can cut pesky premenstrual symptoms (like bloat, mood swings and cramping) in half within three months, according to doctors at Connecticut’s University of Bridgeport. Why? Multis that contain this dynamic duo help nerves, muscles, and glands function optimally all month long, say experts, instead of being negatively impacted by the hormone fluctuations that occur during the premenstrual week.
A single dose of ginger helps cure the queezies for 72 percent of people within 30 minutes, says James F. Balch, M.D., co-author of Prescription for Natural Cures. Credit goes to ginger’s active ingredients--gingerols and curcumin--which scientists say naturally improve digestion and prevent sickness-spurring spasms in the stomach and small intestine. Experts suggest eating two slices of candied ginger whenever nausea strikes.
Dabbing on a little petroleum jelly twice daily soothes mild skin rashes for 96 percent of women within three days, say researchers at Roxborough Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The reason: Rashes are often triggered, or worsened, by the chemicals in lotions and creams--petroleum jelly is chemical-free and nonallergenic, so it soothes and moisturizes skin, to expedite healing, explains Amit Pandya, M.D., a dermatologist at Dallas’ UT Southwestern Medical Center.
A foot massage can cut sinus facial pain in half for several hours (by stimulating the nerves that boost blood flow to the sinuses, reducing pressure and congestion), say experts at the University of Alabama. To do: Massage your feet for five minutes, twice daily--or treat yourself by asking a loved one to help!
Chewing on a clove can ease pain for two hours straight, say UCLA researchers. Experts credit the spice’s stores of eugenol, a natural compound. Cloves contain five times more of this natural anesthetic and bacteria-killer than any other plant.
Urinary Tract Infections
Downing one cup of blueberries—fresh or frozen--daily can cut your risk of a urinary tract infection 60 percent, according to researchers at Rutgers University. Scientists say these blue gems are loaded with special plant compounds that wrap around problematic bacteria to prevent them from latching onto the bladder wall.
When calcium crystals lodge in the inner ear (a problem that can occur if they flake off of the delicate surfaces they’re supposed to be attached to) they can disrupt balance, leading to head spins. To stop dizzy spells and dislodge symptom-causing crystals in three weeks, researchers at Chicago’s Northwestern University suggest this couch exercise: Sit with your head tilted up as if you’re looking at someone standing in front of you. With your neck at that fixed angle, lay down on your left side for 30 seconds, sit up briefly, then lay down on your right for 30 seconds. Continue for 10 minutes, twice daily, until vertigo disappears.
Coating cuts, scrapes and burns with aloe vera gel twice daily speeds healing 33 percent, suggest studies at Dallas’ University of Texas. Aloe’s active ingredient--glucomannan--is a powerful anti-inflammatory that kick-starts the growth of healthy new cells and supportive collagen, explains Dr. Balch.
Xerosis (Super-Dry Skin)
Nosh on some walnuts. Yale researchers say 80 percent of women can heal super-dry skin in three weeks just by eating one ounce daily. Why? “Walnuts are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which revitalize the skin’s protective lipid layer, trapping in moisture and keeping skin soft, smooth and supple,” explains Nicholas Perricone, M.D., a dermatologist at Michigan State University.
Enjoy one cup of cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli or cabbage) daily, and you could speed your recovery from a frustrating yeast infection--and prevent future ones from occurring. Studies at Korea’s Kyungpook National University show that the active ingredient in cruciferous veggies—a compound called indole-3-carbinole (I3C)—naturally damages the cell wall of sickness-causing yeast, stopping their growth and spread.
Too pooped to party? Pop some pickled peppers! Capsaicin (the plant compound that gives these picks their zing) stimulates a rush of endorphins in the brain, erasing fatigue--and revving up moods--in as little as two minutes, say UCLA researchers. The study-proven dose: Just one slice of a hot pickled pepper (try jalapenos or banana pepper rings) can fend off fatigue.