CIC Blog




Dear Doc. Are there any home remedies that work?



Thank you Sally for your question. Many people are now asking about more natural ways to prevent or cure sickness at the home level. There is a mixed bag of remedies that have mixed results; some work, others have no effect, while others are harmful. Many quacks have taken advantage of this heightened interest and are using the internet to propagate their merchandise. We must all be careful to ensure we use those that are scientifically proven to work.

Most home remedies that work should be treated as first aid measures. And we must always remember that ‘Maumivu Ya Kizidi, Muone Daktari’. As you seek to use home remedies, work closely with and consult your doctor.


  1. ACUTE TONSILLITIS- This is a condition that is presents with pain when swallowing saliva, water or food. There may also be fever, bad breath and ear pain. The tonsils become large, and appear red and swollen. Tonsillitis is commonly caused by either viral or bacterial agents. Viral infections usually cure on their own, while bacterial infections often require antibiotics. Initial home remedies that may be applied include:
  2. Getting enough rest.
  3. Gargle warm water with salt twice a day. Stir about ½ teaspoon of salt in about 4 ounces of warm water.
  4. Drink warm fluids, such as lemon, honey and ginger (optional). NB: raw or fresh honey is the best as it contains antiviral and antibacterial properties
  5. Lozenges- those containing licorice have strong anti-inflammatory properties
  6. Ice chips, frozen drinks or cubes can help minimize the pain and inflammation
  7. Pain killers like paracetamol and ibuprofen.

NB: See your doctor if the pain or fever persists for more than 24-48 hours, in case of extreme fatigue, or the affected child is irritable or the tonsils have white spots.


  1. COLD SORES- Most cold sores are painful blisters that form at the edges of the lips and mouth. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). They often last for a week and cure on their own. However, there are ways to decrease the length, severity and frequency of outbreaks. Some of these home remedies include;
  • Prevention: eat a balanced diet and apply stress management strategies to maintain good immunity.
  • Natural remedy: Apply lemon, lemon tea compresses, peppermint, aloe vera gel, licorice root, or milk
  • Over-the-counter medication: apply oral gels, zinc oxide creams. Manage pain with inflammation-reducing medications like ibuprofen and paracetamol.

Common colds are caused by viruses. If you catch a cold it is likely to last for one to two weeks. The cold may be characterized by running/blocked nose, cough, general weakness, joint pains and fever. Stress and lowered immunity increases the chance of getting common colds.

The main home remedies include:-

  1. Rest: Is important as it contributes to the healing process.
  2. Stay well hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids such as chicken soup, warm water with lemon, honey and ginger or herbal teas (peppermint, rosehip, chamomile). Avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated sodas, because they make the dehydration worse.
  3. Combat the stuffiness: Steam with menthol containing agents such as vicks®, cloves, thyme or eucalyptus oil. Apply saline nasal drops/sprays into the nostrils 4 times a-day.
  4. Relieve pain: Gargle salt water twice a day. Use over the counter pain killers such as paracetamol

Key issues to note: a) Antibiotics should only be used if the common cold is complicated by a bacterial infection and following a doctor’s consultation. b) Wash your hands frequently to prevent transmission of the virus that causes common cold to others at home.


Remember ! ‘Maumivu Ya Kizidi, Muone Daktari’.