Home Remedies


When I have a sore throat, I eat slivers of fresh, red bell peppers. Each bite is mouthwatering and enables me to swallow pain-free!

Linda Woron, Mechanicsburg, PA

When we report on red peppers for a sore throat, it's usually hot red peppers that take center stage. That's because the source of their healing punch is the chemical capsaicin. The hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains-and the more numbing power. Since red bell peppers contain next to no capsaicin, the experts we contacted were surprised to hear that they helped Linda's sore throat.

"If sore throats are relieved by eating sweet pepper, the mechanism may be due to something entirely different than capsaicin.," comments Prevention's herbal authority, Varro E. Tyler, PhD, ScD. Coincidentally, during our research on this letter, one of our editors came down with a sore throat and put red bell peppers to the test. To her surprise, one bite brought immediate relief-though the effects were short-lived.

"There are no studies that prove whether or not they're effective, but green and red bell peppers are rich in vitamin C and have a high water content that may be soothing to the throat," explains Cyndi Thomson, PhD, RD, spokesperson for the Chicago-based American Dietetic Association and research instructor at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

So the next time your throat's bothering you, reach for a red bell pepper and see for yourself. At the very least, your ailing body will benefit from a boost of vitamin C-142 milligrams (mg) per half cup, or twice the amount you'd get from a medium-size orange.

Treat Ingrown Toenails with Cotton
For me, the quickest way to heal an ingrown toenail is to insert a small piece of cotton under the outer corner of the nail. Doing so brings welcome relief from the pain and pressure.

Marcy Owens, Glendale, AZ

An ingrown toenail occurs when a nail digs into the surrounding skin. It can cause tenderness, redness, and pain. Ingrown toenails can become infected. People most likely to suffer from ingrown toenails are those who trim their nails to the quick, then try to squeeze into tight shoes. Sports such as tennis and basketball that involve sudden stops can jam toes and cause problems as well.

Home treatment generally is all that is needed for ingrown toenails, says Richard Scher, MD, nail specialist and professor of dermatology at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. Follow these tips to tame tortured toes:

Soak your foot in warm, soapy water for 10 minutes, one to three times a day.
Using the tip of a nail file that's been sterilized in boiling water for 15 minutes, carefully lift the nail away from the reddened skin at the outer corners.
If you can, tuck a small piece of cotton soaked in an antiseptic or topical antibiotic just under the outer corner of the ingrown nail.
Repeat these three steps daily until the nail begins to grow correctly and pressure is relieved. Wear roomy shoes or sandals during this time.

To help prevent ingrown toenails, cut nails straight across. Don't cut them shorter at the sides than in the middle. File the corners of the nails if they're sharp after clipping them. And always wear shoes and socks that fit properly.


People with diabetes or poor circulation should not try this home remedy for ingrown toenails.

When to See the Doctor

If healing does not occur within 1 week, or if pain persists despite self-treatment, see a doctor. Also see a doctor if an ingrown toenail is hot or red, or begins oozing-all signs of infection. People with diabetes or poor circulation should get treated by a doctor before trying any home remedies for ingrown toenails.

De-Skunk Your Doggy
What do tomato juice, vinegar, and coffee have in common? They're just a few of the liquids that desperate people have used to remove skunk stench from their dogs.

But here's something that really works! It's a combination of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and liquid soap that Karyl Brandon, an animal science technician at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine in Manhattan, swears by. "It works better than anything I've ever tried, and I've been bathing skunky dogs for 13 years," she says. Here's the recipe: 1 quart 3% hydrogen peroxide (the bubbling action helps bring the skunk smell to the surface), 1/4 cup baking soda (neutralizes the odor), and 1 teaspoon liquid soap (raises the hair cuticle, bringing the odor to the surface).

Combine all ingredients in a bucket. If weather permits, do it outside-or your house may stink for weeks. Wear old clothes, rubber gloves, and a waterproof poncho for extra protection so you don't end up smelling like Pepe Le Pew. First, soak your dog with water, then apply the mixture. Work it through his fur into a thick lather, taking care not to get the solution in his eyes. Leave it on for 3 to 4 minutes, then finish with a rinse. Discard any leftover solution.

Quick Tip

Peroxide is fine for humans or animals, but it may discolor fabrics or carpets.

PHOTO (COLOR): Sweet relief--no hot peppers needed.

PHOTO (COLOR): Red peppers rival oranges for vitamin C content.

PHOTO (COLOR): Pick cotton to nix nail problems.

PHOTO (COLOR): "Pew"-proof your pooch with this brew.


By Laura Goldstein

with Sherry Weiss Kiser

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