Many families have passed down concoctions and elixirs for generations to alleviate pain, discomfort or other ailments. My Big Fat Greek Wedding taught us all to "just put some Windex on it." Maybe your own grandmother thinks that cough syrup is a cure-all for everything from hiccups to snake bites. Lemon juice is one random household item that really can be beneficial to your aching body.
While none of these suggestions can replace professional medical care, they can provide at- home relief for simple sores, burns and fevers. However, if you've rolled around in a pile of poison ivy, just head straight to the hospital.
Heal a Cold Sore
You have a little something on your lip. No, it's not food; it's a cold sore. Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are small groups of blisters around the mouth. The skin turns red and the sore may even break open, seep out a clear liquid and then scab over. These nasty little buggers take anywhere from three days to two weeks to completely heal.
To shorten healing time, dab a little lemon juice on that irritating cold sore. The juice acts as an astringent and promotes healing. The acid will burn a little when applied to the sore, but a few seconds of discomfort is worth a blemish-free mouth.
Heal a Canker Sore
A canker sore is a painful, open sore inside the mouth that is often white and surrounded by red skin. The pain starts out as a tingling or burning sensation that quickly develops into a sore, but luckily it will diminish in seven to 10 days.
To soothe the pain, put 2 teaspoons of sage in a cup of hot water; let steep for about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice. Gargle with the warm solution. Once again, the concoction might sting the canker sore, but beauty is worth the pain.
Alleviate Poison Ivy Rashes
Many of us heard "leaves of three, let it be" as children running wild through the suburban jungle, so we would know which plants were poison ivy. Just touching poison ivy, or touching something it touched, will give you a nasty rash.
Use lemon juice to relieve the itching or rash from poison ivy. Apply directly to the affected areas. The acid reduces the rash and surrounding redness the same way it clears up pimples. Avoid scratching -- the more you bother the rash, the longer it will take to heal.
Stop the Itch
Poison ivy rashes are one of the itchiest and most uncomfortable experiences anyone can go through. That is, until you've been eaten alive by an army of red ants or faced an allergic reaction to nickel or makeup.
Use citric powder to stop the itch of poisonous plants, insect bites, or allergic reactions. Make a paste of lemon juice and cornstarch; rub gently on the itchy spots. And, just like your mother used to tell you, resist the urge to scratch. The more you scratch an itch, the more prone the area is to infection.
Reduce a Fever
A fever is an elevated body temperature that most often occurs as a sign of illness. Even as your body temperature increases, most people feel colder than normal until the fever reaches its highest temperature. This is the immune system's response to infections.
Gone are the days of "feed a cold, starve a fever." Today it is more widely believed that both illnesses should receive similar attention and care. Sip this warm elixir to reduce a fever: combine 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 2 1/2 cups warm water, and 1/2 teaspoon honey. Drink slowly.
Adapted from "Lemon Juice: Lighten Your Hair and Solve Household Problems," © 2009 Publications International, Ltd.