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Know the limitations of home remedies before getting started  

Know the limitations of home remedies before getting started  

Home remedies come with an unsaid “not for everyone” label. Read between the fine lines and be safe
woman taking home remedy
Representational image | Shutterstock

A simple home remedy using lemon can do more harm than good when used inappropriately! Yes, lemon is the most used citrus fruit in every household for culinary and medicinal purposes. Any food ingredient/herb when used inappropriately or for long, without considering its possible side effects can harm the body.  

 Here is one such adverse story of a woman who used lemon as a home remedy after her cancer treatment.  

 56-year-old Saroja Rudrappa from Karnataka’s Davanagere was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2020 and was treated for the same with a combination of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.  

 Though she was doing well after the entire course of treatment, she just wanted to give a try to home remedy advice that she received from her family and friends.  

 One of those random forwards on a messaging platform talked about how regular use of lemon juice would help get rid of cancer. She started consuming lemon juice early in the morning on an empty stomach for a month. Initially, she felt good, as her appetite improved. As days passed, she started experiencing a weird tingling sensation due to which she was unable to chew food and experienced severe burning sensations in the stomach.  

 After she visited her doctor, she was diagnosed with GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) and enamel erosion as well.  

 “I should have consulted a doctor before I started consuming lemon juice randomly. Though I was fine, I just wanted to try out some harmless remedies for better health which turned out to be scary. Now, I cannot even chew food especially hot ones as I have developed a severe tingling sensation,” says Rudrappa with tears in her eyes.  

 Another woman from Tumkuru, Karnataka had similar experiences with home remedies.  

 Lalitha Shivakumar, 53, a professor from Tumkuru University, started looking for home remedies during the second wave of COVID-19 after her husband tested positive.  One of her friends suggested she use lemon juice as nasal drops regularly in both the nostrils, which she began doing in right earnest. And in just three days she started experiencing a burning sensation and nausea.  

 She first thought that the symptoms would alleviate in a few days, but days turned into months and the symptoms kept worsening. She had reached that stage where her sense of smell (anosmia) was all but over. Even pungent and strong smell would have no effect on her senses. She finally consulted her ENT doctor and after almost three months, started to get her olfaction back.  

 She now regrets blindly following the remedy. “I should have thought for a while and consulted my daughter who is a doctor. I had lost the sensation of any sort of smell for almost three months, which has now improved a bit.” 

 The bottom line here is using something in the name of a home remedy without taking an expert’s help can be detrimental. Even fruits/vegetables that we use daily might act counterproductive when used as a home remedy.  

 What is a home remedy? 

Use of natural ingredients available at home to get rid of common ailments is known as a home remedy. The natural ingredients include spices from the kitchen, a herb from your home garden, or any fruits or vegetables.  

 Here is what experts have to say  

Dr Prakash Hegde, a professor from Shri Dharmastala Manjunatheshwara College of Ayurveda and Hospital, Hassan, Karnataka says that all medicines (or home remedies) are intended for a limited period and in appropriate doses. If that is not followed, they can worsen the condition. He also highlights that a physician’s role is of utmost importance in educating the public/health seekers.  

 Dr Satish Pai, a professor and researcher from Mysuru’s JSS Ayurveda Medical College warns about herbal supplements that are consumed additionally alongside food items.  

 “Medicines (aushadha) and food (ahara) are two different entities. Food provides us nutrition, whereas medicines are meant to provide relief against different health conditions. Medicines are prescribed based on several factors such as the health condition, digestive capacity, age and strength of the individual; seasons; etc.” 

 Dr Pai also emphasises the need for caution, as home remedies can interact negatively with already existing medications.  

 Dr Prasanna Venkatesh, senior consultant, Sri Ranga Ayurveda Chikitsa Mandira, Mysuru adds that self-medication should not be practised. Instead, an expert opinion ensures the right usage of the medication/herbal products. 

 Raising interest and awareness of herbs, herbal products and medicines has made a huge difference in people’s lives. People tend to self-prescribe and buy herbal medicines and products over the counter presuming that herbal products are safe and cause no harm, while risking their health in the process. 

 Things to keep in mind 

  • Home remedies are meant only for temporary relief
  • Go for home remedies only for simple health conditions such as cold, cough, headache, stomachache, patchy skin burns and cut wounds 
  • If discomfort persists, it is mandatory to consult a physician for further diagnosis and management  
  • Do not self-medicate for serious illnesses or for long durations 
  • Never use a home remedy if pregnant or nursing  
  • Take extra care for children and the elderly  
  • A remedy that works for one may not work for another  
  • Be informed, seek out unbiased, scientific sources  
  • Discuss self-medication regimes with your physician 
  • Immediately stop the use of a home remedy and seek medical care in case of any ill-effect or discomfort.  

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