logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Home Remedies Can Work Wonders…and Maybe Even Save Lives

Home remedies are not a substitute for doctor care for serious conditions, but in an emergency with no doctor available, they might save a life.
Home Remedies Can Work Wonders…and Maybe Even Save Lives
Salt and Pepper

Do home remedies work? How would you know if drinking cranberry juice or taking cranberry capsules prevented a urinary tract infection? Double-blind, placebo-controlled trials published in journals like The Lancet, JAMA and the BMJ suggest benefit from drinking cranberry juice, but critics have called for more rigorous studies. There may never be enough research to satisfy the skeptics who doubt that emergency home remedies could ever have any value.

Will Black Pepper Stop Bleeding?

Sometimes, though, the effects of emergency home remedies are dramatic. You may not need a placebo-controlled trial if you use your eyes and common sense. We were impressed when we first heard about using black pepper on a cut. Nell Heard and her family were camping in Yellowstone, far from medical attention. A mug fell out of the RV cupboard and hit her brother-in-law Wendall on the head. The long shallow gash started to bleed profusely, but Wendall, a woodcarver, suggested sprinkling ground black pepper on it. This worked exceedingly well to stop the bleeding.

An even more amazing black pepper story recently caught our attention. Stephen writes:

“Once I was working alone in wintertime in a church. I was pushing a duct together and my hand slipped. The raw edge of the metal cut my hand open.

“Picture the cut you would need if you were removing a thumb–about three inches long and right to the bone at the joint.

“Pressure wasn’t working, there was no telephone, and it was about ten degrees outside. I had been dropped off there and had no idea where I was.

Mom’ Advice Comes to Mind:

“I remembered my mother telling me that either black pepper or cobwebs would stop bleeding. I found some pepper in the church kitchen, and after applying great pressure, I opened my hand and the wound, and I dumped about a half shaker of pepper directly into the gaping cut. I pushed it shut again, put a potholder over it and secured it with some electrical tape.

“The bleeding stopped immediately, and in a matter of minutes there was no pain. After about twenty minutes I got bored and went back to work. I finished out the day, but when I got home, my wife started screaming for me to rush to the hospital.

“When I got to the emergency room there was more screaming. The doctor and nurses thought I was an idiot for putting pepper in the cut and insisted that every bit be washed out. Of course, as they fiddled with it, large amounts of blood began pouring out and it hurt like hell again.

“Finally, my patience ran out and I held some gauze over the cut and left. I immediately went down to the cafeteria, opened a bunch of those little pepper packages, poured the wound full again, and drove myself home. My wife complained that I was stupid and unreasonable, but the entire unstitched, un-doctored, bone-deep wound healed without a scar. I have used black pepper to heal cuts ever since.”

We don’t recommend using black pepper on serious cuts that need medical attention, but we are astonished and delighted with Stephen’s success. Sometimes emergency home remedies work wonders when nothing else is available.

Did Black Pepper Save a Life?

We’re not sure whether pepper saved Stephen’s life, but a woman wrote to us several weeks ago to say that this remedy saved her husband’s life. Without the pepper he might have bled to death. That’s because they were traveling in Mongolia, far from medical help. He was taking a blood thinner called warfarin when he had an accident and gashed his leg.

She related that

“The blood was pouring down his leg like a faucet. Thank you for saving his life. I’m sure he could have bled to death.”

We hope most people will never face such emergencies. But it’s nice to know that simple remedies can often work wonders, whether it be a cut onion for a sting or a banana peel for a wart.

If you would like to know more about such simple solutions for a variety of health problems you may wish to consult our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies from National Geographic. Wherever you go, you will have hundreds of affordable treatments for common conditions.

Rate this article
4.4- 126 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies

Home remedies can be surprisingly effective for a number of common ailments. They're less expensive with fewer side effects than prescription drugs. Time-tested solutions for minor health problems.

The People’s Pharmacy Quick and Handy Home Remedies
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.