DIY: 5 Simple Home Remedies

Jar of Honey & Sliced LemonThere’s a reason home remedies stay around for decades.
It’s because they tend to work.

My grandfather was a woodsman and naturalist, and my father served with the Medics during WWII, so I’ve had quite a few home remedies passed down to me over the years.

First, let me say that I would never discourage you from going to a medical doctor for any injury or ailment. And my disclaimer here is that I am not a medical doctor and am not recommending treatment to you. These are simply home remedies that have worked for my family for years (oft times better than high-priced prescriptions) and I’m only passing along the information in case you are interested. Only you know what your family can and cannot use, and what does and doesn’t work for each person.

With that out of the way, here are home remedies that my family still uses to this day.

Insect Bites or Bee Stings:

A quick fix for itchy insect bites or painful bee stings is a mixture of Baking Soda and just enough water to make a thick paste. Dab the paste onto the bite or sting (for a bee sting, make sure you have removed the stinger) and let the baking soda paste dry. It will pull out the poison while calming the itch or pain. You may have to reapply often, as the paste tends to crack and fall off once it’s dry. You can repeat this process as often as needed. This also works for spider bites and stinging nettles. I’ve even used it for a hornet sting.

If you are in the woods and don’t have any Baking Soda handy, use thick mud to help calm the pain or itch until you can reach camp and your First Aid Kit. And yes, I keep Baking Soda handy while camping. It’s perfect for putting out a hot grease fire or scouring out a burnt pan.

Over-Stressed Sore Muscles:

Carton of Epsom SaltTaking a 15-minute soaking bath with Epsom Salt added has never failed me. My family swears by this treatment, but I never really understood why it worked so well, until I did some research. Epsom Salt is made up of the compound magnesium sulfate, which both play essential roles in how our bodies function. Studies have found that over half of all Americans have a magnesium deficiency, believed to be a factor in all kinds of health problems. Taking an Epsom Salt bath works because our body is able to absorb the magnesium and sulfate through our skin, restoring balance. Some doctors recommend taking an Epsom Salt bath 3 times a week.

Often I add Baking Soda to the water as well, to help my body detoxify while the muscles relax. You can find my recipe in my blog post: Handy Home Remedies. If you don’t have a bathtub, pour some Epsom Salt into a sock and tie the end. Then drape the sock over your shoulder while in the shower. You can get a similar effect.

Sinus and Chest Congestion:

I have to confess that I don’t know why this one works—but it does. When it comes to congestion, I’m a big advocate for Vicks Vapor Rub (and yes, you can make your own homeopathic version). As a child, my mother rubbed it on my chest and neck to help break up the congestion and soothe my sore throat. But as an adult, I learned of a new method (and I apologize that I don’t remember who told me this!) of rubbing Vicks on the bottoms of my feet right before going to bed. Then I add socks to protect the sheets and keep the warmth concentrated on my feet. This always helps me breathe easier and sleep more soundly through the night. You may find that you can smell the Vicks, even though your feet are at the other end of the bed! Again, all I know is that it helps me rest and sleep so much better. And we all know that rest and lots of fluids is the big key to fighting off a cold or flu! Speaking of fluids, I drink a hot cup of green tea with raw honey and fresh lemon juice added, to help detoxify and support my immune system.

Sour Stomach:

Jar of Raw HoneyI hate that feeling of blaah when my tummy isn’t happy with what I ate. Sometimes it’s too much food or something a little too rich for my system. I’ve found that if I eat a teaspoon of raw, unfiltered honey it soothes my tummy quickly without having to take any of those nasty anti-acids on the market. (Which is good because I stopped buying them years ago!). The secret is to use only unprocessed, raw and unfiltered (and unheated) honey. Otherwise the beneficial properties have been lost or destroyed with heat and filtering. I like to purchase local honey at the Farmer’s Market. The added bonus is that raw honey also aids in the digestion process.

Removing Poison Ivy Oil From Your Skin:

Bar of Fels Naptha SoapAs a kid I spent one long summer suffering from a severe case of poison oak. I had gone on a river fishing trip with my dad, and took a bath afterwards (not realizing it spread the irritating oil over most of my body). At the time we had no idea I was so allergic to it. Even later, as an adult, I would get a rash on my wrists from carrying firewood into the house (which had dried poison ivy vines on the bark). My grandfather knew of a plant to rub on his skin to keep from getting poison ivy or oak, but I never learned what it was. What I did discover is an inexpensive, old-time bar of soap that was always a staple in the household in years past. It’s called Fels Naptha and it’s still around (an still pretty inexpensive), but more difficult to find these days. A good scrubbing with the soap after being exposed to poison ivy will remove the oil from your skin. In this case preventive medicine is far better than having to treat the ailment! Of course there are other uses for this soap. I used it to scrub grass stains from the knees of my boys’ jeans when they were young. Always worked!


Do You Have a Time-Tested Home Remedy You’d Like to Share?


  1. Lois

    Some good ideas here. I use apple cider vinegar to take the sting and itch out of bug bites.

    And here’s one I haven’t tried. My daughter-in-law was experiencing heart burn while pregnant. For some unknown reason she was drawn to plain yellow mustard and ate a teaspoon of it. This did the trick and she used it through the rest of her pregnancy. My neighbor is pregnant and having painful heartburn as well but she had been buying over-the-counter medications to treat it. I suggested she try mustard and it worked for her as well. Not sure if this works only in pregnancy or not as I haven’t had an opportunity to test it.

    • indy

      Thanks, Lois. I like the apple cider vinegar idea as well. As to the mustard…that is a new one for me too. Maybe it’s the fact it contains a lot of vinegar? My dad used to take vinegar for heartburn. All I know is that I love mustard, so the next time I’m suffering from heartburn I’m definitely going to try this!

  2. Mary Beth

    I have always packed a bar of Fels Naptha when we travel. I forgot it this year and when my daughter and niece came in contact with stinging nettles I was lucky that the local grocery store stocked it. Still less than $1.40 a bar. I bought one for each of the young women and one for the cottage. That bar will last you many years if you remember to pack it for camping trips! Maybe I should put one in the glove box of each car!
    Indy, I can’t wait to buy your books and start reading them!!

    • indy

      Ah yes – the wonder bar of Fels Naptha! So glad you mentioned that. When my sons were small I used it to get grass stains out of their jeans and clean up their tennis shoes. And nothing works better for washing the oil from your skin when you’ve been exposed to poison ivy. Thanks for commenting! And I’m so excited that you want to read my books – I hope you enjoy them!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don't Miss Out!

Join me in my quest for Self Reliance. Subscribe to my blog to receive my twice monthly updates on Products You Should Know About, Life Hacks, DIY Projects, Preparedness, Survival, and of course Writing Tips.

You have Successfully Subscribed!