How to use the natural pharmacy in your kitchen…

“Let food be your medicine,” Hippocrates once said. And judging from the thousands of letters and e-mails we’ve gotten over the years from people who have relieved common ailments with items most people have in their homes, the ancient Greek physician was really on to something. Some food remedies are backed up by science, while others are simply anecdotal, but there’s no denying that specific foods can help many common health problems

Raisins for Reducing Nighttime Bathroom Visits

Getting out of bed multiple times a night to urinate isn’t just annoying, it’s actually a proven predictor of mortality. That’s because sleep disruption predisposes you to a number of chronic illnesses, such as hypertension and heart disease.

As far as we know, there’s no scientific research to support this remedy, but we’ve heard many times that it works. One woman told us that two spoonfuls of raisins before bed helped her reduce bathroom visits from once every hour or two to about once a night. And another writer claimed that eating 10 raisins three times a day allowed him to stop taking bladder medication!

Important: Never stop taking a prescription medication without consulting your doctor first.

What to do: Try eating a tablespoon of raisins before you brush and floss your teeth at night.

 Tart Cherry Juice for Muscle Pain

Tart cherry juice has gained popularity as an effective remedy for painful gout. This pleasant-tasting beverage seems to lower the level of uric acid circulating in the body. The Arthritis Foundation reports that tart cherry juice may also improve symptoms of osteoarthritis.

What you may not know: Tart cherry juice can also alleviate muscle pain after running and other workouts, according to a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. When runners drank the anti-inflammatory juice twice a day for a week prior to a race, they reported up to 67% less pain afterward compared with those taking a placebo.

What to do: Drink one cup of tart cherry juice two times a day. Note: Be sure to choose juice made from tart or Montmorency cherries—the varieties shown in studies to provide benefits.

Soy Sauce for Burns

One woman told us that when she burned her hand on a hot frying pan, she tried an old wives’ tale—she filled a rubber glove with soy sauce and put her hand in. Result: The pain disappeared quickly, and there was no blistering the next day.

Scientific evidence: We’re not exactly sure why the salty liquid worked, but she’s not the first person to experience success with soy for burns. A 2015 Israeli animal study showed that incorporating soy protein into bandage materials for burn wounds led to quicker healing than traditional dressing material.

While serious burns demand immediate medical attention, milder burns may benefit from a dose of soy. (It’s probably a minor burn if only the outer layer of skin seems to be affected with some redness, splotchiness or small blisters.)

What to do: If you want to try soy for burns, we hear that regular soy sauce is more effective for some reason than the low-sodium kind. You can soak the burned skin in soy sauce or apply gauze soaked in soy sauce to the burn.  

Caution: You may have been told that butter helps burns, but it should not be used for this purpose—the greasy spread seals in heat.

Chewing Gum for Heartburn

In a study published in the Journal of Dental Research, acid reflux patients were fed lunches that included whole milk, lots of cheese, chips and salad with mayonnaise—fare that would give almost anyone heartburn. Some subjects were then given sugar-free gum to chew for 30 minutes. Result: Two hours later, the gum chewers had significantly lower acid levels than people who hadn’t chewed gum.

Explanation: Chewing gum stimulates saliva production, which helps rinse the esophagus of acid.

What to do: If you frequently suffer from heartburn, try chewing gum after meals. Be sure to choose sugar-free gum to keep cavities at bay. Note: Mint gum or gum with sorbitol can cause digestive upset in some people.