home remedies

Tea for the dire rear

When I was a kid and got diarrhea, my aunt tried to give me tea as a remedy. Being a kid with a sweet tooth I was never in the world going to drink what to me was an unfamiliar bitter brew. 

As an adult with a sweet tooth, I know it works okay to put sugar in the tea. Tea, what they call black tea as opposed to green tea or herbal tea, is an age-old remedy for diarrhea. It isn’t magic, like Pepto-Bismol. The effect is milder but it does have an effect. One advantage to it is you can order it in a restaurant, where you can’t order a dose of Pepto. It’s also relatively inexpensive to keep on hand at home. 


Cover Your Ankles

No, I’m not channeling a Victorian governess, telling you to be modest.

It might only be me, but if any part of my legs or feet is exposed to cool air, I get sinus congestion and a runny nose. If I don’t take steps, it progresses to a sinus infection.

Although I realize it’s a personal idiosyncrasy, I mention it because it took me years to put the cool legs together with the respiratory symptoms, and maybe someone out there could benefit from the idea.

The Three Second Rule is not for Eye Drops

The eye drops bottle is not kidding when it says “Do not touch the tip of the bottle to your eye or any other surface.” Not even for a fraction of a second.

My frugal instincts led me to continue to use the (nearly full!) eye drops after they touched my eye and all it did was make the conjunctivitis worse. Because the bottle became contaminated in that less than a second in which it touched my eyeball, and I was just dripping germs back into my eye every day.

Throw it out.


It’s not the Sodium, It’s the Balance

All my life I had low-normal blood pressure, except when exposed to petrochemically-based fragrances and grooming products, then it spiked. The fairly low blood pressure was fine and dandy, until I got where it wasn’t safe for me to cook anymore. I switched to frozen dinners (mainly Marie Callender’s – they don’t taste fakey like some brands). I noticed my blood pressure started running a bit high. Not horrible like the petrochemical spikes, but too high for complacency.

Prepared foods often have higher levels of sodium than scratch cooking, and high sodium intake is often associated with high blood pressure. So I Googled around and learned, or re-learned, that part of managing sodium levels is not just reducing sodium, but balancing it with potassium.

The sites I found talked about eating potassium-rich foods like peas and bananas. There’s only so many bananas and peas I’m going to realistically eat. Eating them did lower my pressure some, but not enough, and I knew I’d eventually drift away from eating that way. So I bought some potassium tablets and added them to my weekly minder pill-keeping-track-thingy.

Well, wow. Within a few days my pressure was back to my normal 117 or so over 73 or so. I think I’ll take the potassium tablets maybe five days out of seven instead of every day, because there is such as thing as TOO MUCH potassium. If you take too much it can cause irregular heartbeat and even cardiac arrest.

Adapted Neck Brace

The bones in my neck are pressing on nerves and sending electrical zings into my head. The chiropractor recommended a neck brace. I ordered one on Amazon, but it was too short for my neck. Rather than buy another, I spent $3+ at Walmart on rectangular pieces of Velcro and made an extension.

The brace makes me hold my neck in correct alignment, and provides some support for my big ol’ (brain-filled) head, so my neck isn’t under as much pressure.




Marie Brack is the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It’s available on Amazon.com in both Kindle and paperback versions.

Kindle preview: https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B00HQKOQBG&asin=B00HQKOQBG&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_gITAxbZWT7SRJ

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=marie+brack

Drink Up, Old People

I had not realized before that the human urinary system qualifies as “old” as early as age 50. As the bladder muscle becomes less efficient and the immune system less responsive, it’s possible for people like me to have a dreadful urinary tract infection with no fever and sometimes no urinary symptoms! Sometimes the only symptoms are confusion and forgetfulness.

Dehydration is the most likely trigger for a deadly cascade that leads to kidney failure and sometimes death. In my youth, I gave no thought to dehydration. I knew young people who had UTIs and it was no big deal. Over 50, it is a big deal. Two years ago, A friend of mine, age 78, felt puny, didn’t bother to drink much, got a UTI, then kidney failure, and died, all within a week. Another friend, my age, was traveling, didn’t have as much opportunity to drink water, got a UTI, kidney failure, collapse, and luckily has survived. The recovery will take months.

So drink up, old people, water is less expensive than intensive care.

And dehydration doesn’t mean it’s been days since you drank anything. It’s possible to drink a little bit all day and still not be fully hydrated. Naturally, sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea will increase dehydration risk.

Watch out for:

  • dizziness and confusion
  • Urine that appears cloudy
  • Bloody urine
  • Strong or foul-smelling urine odor
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Pressure in the lower pelvis
  • Low-grade fever
  • Night sweats, shaking, or chills

In older people, watch for:

  • Confusion, or delirium-like state
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Other behavioral changes
  • Poor motor skills or dizziness
  • Falling


Witch Hazel and the Infected Digit

In this digital age, all it takes is an infected right index finger cuticle to disable me completely. It was my Mousing finger! My Kindle-tapping finger! I was helpless.

The internet told me to use antibiotic ointment. I’m allergic to most of those, and didn’t want to buy any anyhow. The internet also told me to soak it in warm water and keep it elevated. That was okay, but not working fast enough to suit me. Touch typing with nine fingers is like setting a spider loose on the keyboard, a mess. I was having to change the TV channel with my left hand. Terrible!

I told a friend I was adding a little witch hazel to the water, just in case it helped. He said his Kentucky granny swore by witch hazel and he still uses it for any cut or scrape.

That gave me the push to soak the finger in straight witch hazel several times through the afternoon and evening. I slept with it elevated.

This morning there is still a small healing spot there, but the swelling and pain are gone and I’m typing with all ten fingers.

Hooray for witch hazel, which is also an fine traditional aftershave and astringent. Available in the first aid section at Walmart, just $1.44 for 16 ounces of the house brand or $3 for the name brand.