Weird Health Tricks That Really Work

Watermelon juice has a reputation among athletes as an elixir that can soothe sore muscles—and according to a new study, this odd health trick may actually be effective.

It sounds too weird to be true, but scientists in Spain report that watermelon juice is rich in L-citrulline, an amino acid that may help ease muscle pain and improve recovery time. To conduct the study, which was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers gave volunteers either plain watermelon juice, L-citrulline-enriched juice, or a placebo drink, an hour before exercise. The plain watermelon juice relieved muscle soreness best, possibly because naturally-occurring L-citrulline may be used more easily by the body.

Let’s take a closer look at some more quirky health tips that really work.

Bizarre Ways to Boost Your Brainpower

Whether you’re facing an important assignment at work, or prepping for a big exam, we all need to be extra sharp from time to time. Fortunately, research shows that a couple surprising practices may give our brains a helpful boost:

  • Sip hot cocoa. After sipping hot chocolate twice a day, for thirty days, elderly people with vascular problems experienced improved blood flow to the brain. They also scored higher on cognitive tests in a new study published in Neurology. If you’re going to give this tip a try, choose hot cocoa with low sugar and fat content.
  • Grab some gum. Students who chewed gum before taking challenging mental tests performed better than students who went without, according to a study published in the journal Appetite. However, the benefits of gum-chewing wore off within twenty minutes – so don’t skimp on studying and time your chomping strategically!
  • Reach for water. The next time you feel faint or foggy, drink a glass of water. Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have found that water increases activity in the sympathetic nervous system. This helps to boost alertness, as well as blood pressure and energy output.

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Weird Remedies When Nature Bites

From pesky bugs to seasonal allergies in spring and fall, the outdoors don’t always leave us feeling refreshed. Keep these weird tricks up your sleeve when you’re trying to enjoy some fresh air:  

  • Raid the laundry room. When the bugs are biting, line your pockets with dryer sheets. They are often infused with fragrant compounds, such as linalool and beta-citronella—which may explain their ability to ward off gnats in laboratory studies. If mosquitos have you itching, try washing your feet, avoiding stinky cheese, and staying indoors when the moon is full. As I recently reported, the world of bug repellants is truly weird.
  • Wash your mustache. If you suffer from seasonal allergies, beware of hair—facial hair, that is! Mustaches can trap pollen, a common allergy trigger. Fortunately, washing your mustache twice a day can help to reduce allergy symptoms, while cutting your reliance on antihistamines and decongestants, suggest researchers from Virginia’s Mid-Atlantic Permanente Medical Group.

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Funky First Aid

First-aid kits are often stocked with tweezers and Tylenol, but there are quirkier remedies if you’re prepared to get creative:

  • Sniff away migraines. A small number of patients gained relief from migraine pain when they inhaled the fragrance of green apple while resting in a dark quiet room, according to researchers at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Only those patients who enjoyed the smell of green apples experienced pain relief—so if that aroma doesn’t do it for you, try one that does!
  • Peel away splinters. This tip is truly bananas! The next time you get a splinter, tape a small piece of ripe banana peel—fleshy side down—over the area. While you sleep, enzymes in the peel will draw the splinter to the surface of your skin. Banana peels can also soothe pimples, bug bites, and rash from poison ivy.
  • Tape your warts. In a remarkable study reported in the journal American Family Physician, patients who treated warts with Duct tape enjoyed greater success than patients who received cryotherapy. The Duct tape therapy was also less expensive, it involved fewer side effects, and it could be done by patients from home. Of course, one important question remains: what can’t be fixed with this sticky household staple?

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Health Highlights: Feb. 24, 2014