Budget home remedies and medications

budget home remedies

Now that we are moving towards winter there already seem to be more bugs about. Coughs and colds and the winter vomiting virus (awful – been there, done that!) seem to be rife. This got me to thinking beyond those particular maladies to home treatments generally. Some things that might be considered old wives tales do seem actually to work very well, and you don’t need to spend much money to get them. I have asked some of my blogger friends for the best budget home remedies and over the counter medications that they recommend.

Best budget home remedies

Neti pot

Possibly the least known of my list of the bet budget home remedies and medications, I learned about this one when I was training to be a yoga teacher. For colds and sinus problems I swear by my neti pot, used with  cooled boiling water and salt. A neti pot is a small jug used to wash out your nostrils. It may sound gross, but it is easy and effective. There are some instructions on this WikiHow post.

For over 10 years I have been using a simple plastic one like this one from Amazon. If I was buying again though I would get a ceramic one like this.budget home remedies


Money savers will already know about using bicarbonate of soda as a cheap cleaning ingredient. However, did you know that its antacid problems make it a good home remedy for cystitis? Many of the over the counter cystitis remedies are based on it anyway. Note – it’s not suitable for those who need a low sodium diet because of conditions such as high blood pressure.

Food grade bicarbonate of soda can be bought online in bulk packs quite cheaply, like the one here.

Coughs and colds

Fiona Elizabeth Hawkes from savvyinsomerset.com goes for old fashioned chicken soup.  “Chicken soup is scientifically proven to make you feel better when you have a cold. I always keep home made chicken stock in the freezer so I can easily make some when I’m feeling poorly. I usually add wok ready noodles, ginger and chilli for a super quick Asian style broth.

Hannah Tasker from www.thriftyish.co.uk knows how to relieve a bunged up nose: “Eucalyptus essential oil is brilliant for relieving congestion. Just put a few drops on a handkerchief or spare piece of cloth.” 

Jo and Leisa Creed from joleisa.com swear by a recipe called Nature’s Penicillin. ” This is basically honey, onion, whole citrus fruit, cayenne pepper and garlic all blended together and kept in the fridge in a jar. Take a tablespoon of it as soon as you feel like a cold coming on.”

Cas from Diary of a Frugal Family has a couple of great tips from her blog: “I make my own homemade version of Vicks vapour rub as well as lemon, honey and chamomile ice lollies for sore throats.” These look amazing!

Helen Nuttall from Budgeting is a Challenge goes for the traditional cold remedies: “Lemons sliced and placed in boiling water. Leave them to infuse for a couple of hours. Then pour when you need, heat up and stir in a generous amount of pure natural honey. Sorts out my colds and sore throats also and very cheap. I get sore throats a lot! Also, I often have a spoonful of honey if my throat is sore. It is naturally antibacterial and lubricates your throat for a couple of hours.”

Emma from the Money Whisperer swears by Vicks rubbed on the soles of your feet for coughs. “Works a treat for my kids!”

Helen Dewdney from the Complaining Cow  is positive that whisky (and alcohol generally) is good for colds. “If you are drinking wine anyway it will also help alleviate annoyances!”

Caster oil for detoxing and digestion

I had never heard of this tip, but it seems that castor oil is great for detoxification. Emma Maslin from The Money Whisperer says: “I buy castor oil in large bottles from Amazon and cut up old towels/muslins to make castor oil packs for when we’re feeling under the weather”. If you place the packs on your belly it is said to aid digestion and caster oil can also be taken orally for constipation.


I find peppermint or ginger tea perfect to help settle indigestion. Or Goren from www.savvylondoner.co.uk swears by ginger for travel sickness too. He says, “Ginger works wonders against nausea and motion sickness. I buy sliced, sweetened pieces (preferably without sugar), or you can always slice the ginger yourself. We always make sure we have some with us when going on a long train ride, a flight, and even for indoor cycling sessions…”

Hannah Tasker from www.thriftyish.co.uk also rates ginger: “Ginger has anti- inflammatory properties, and can be added to honey and lemon to help relieve sore throats.”

Morgan Woods says, “I always keep fresh ginger in the freezer ready for a sore throat. It’ll be mixed with hot water, honey (or maple syrup) and lemon juice. This is also great for digestion issues and period pain. Super cheap to buy and keeping it in the freezer helps it last longer.”


Kaya La Roche from earningbythesea.co.uk uses raw garlic for toothache.  She says, “I’ve had the kind of toothache that had me seriously considering pulling it myself at home, it was awful. Raw garlic held in the ‘bite’ and on the gum is the best pain relief. Eat some too if  you can stomach it. I found it on Google when desperate and couldn’t believe it worked!”

Oil of cloves was recommended when I had terrible toothache, but I have to say it didn’t work for me!

Dry skin

Lesley Negus from ThriftyLesley.com goes for glycerin as one of her fave budget home remedies:  “Put equal quantities of glycerin from the chemist and water, with a little squirt of perfume if you like, in a small vapouriser. Shake it all well and you have the best moisturiser ever. Not glamorous, but very very effective and extraordinarily cheap.”

Aches and pains

budget home remedies

Hot water by itself is good for arthritic pain, achy joints and period pain, but the addition of Epsom salt makes it even more effective. Epsom salt is one of the best traditional home remedies for aches and pains, arthritic joints, rashes and bruises. For more on the benefits of Epsom salt and why it works see here.

I dissolve a cupful or two into a really hot bath for aching joints, and I am finding this great for the trapped nerve in my neck that crops up every now and again. You can get Epsom salt with all kinds of fancy fragrances added, but the plain stuff works just as well and is cheap as chips, like this one on Amazon at £4.49 for a kilogram.

A hot water bottle is also a go to remedy for aches and pains. Every home should have a couple!

Foot fungus

Mr Shoestring’s mum was told by her GP that Vicks can counter fungus on feet and nails. I couldn’t believe this could work, but she swears that it does. This is a much cheaper remedy than many of the creams and potions sold specifically for the job. It needs to be applied every day and can take some months to work, but it is much gentler than some of the over the counter remedies for nail fungus.

Over the counter remedies

From the above, it seems every home should have a pot of Vicks vapour rub, but you can buy cheaper supermarket versions.  My blogger friends agree that avoiding brand names saves money when it comes to over the counter drugs.

Michelle Rice from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families says, “Buy generic versions of painkillers, decongestant tablets, etc. Most supermarkets sell painkillers from 40p a pack. Also, don’t get sachets of Lemsip. A lemon and honey drink combined with a paracetamol or two will do the same thing.”  You can find Michelle’s honey and lemon recipe here.

Sara Williams from Debt Camel agrees: “Supermarket painkillers are identical to branded ones at two or three times as much. Ibuprofen or paracetamol is exactly the same drug whether it is packaged as tackling headaches or backaches. So don’t be fooled, go for the cheapest generic drug you can find.”  I agree, and have found that pills for period pains contain the same as those for migraines, but for some reason are cheaper!

Ruth Hinds from Ruth Makes Money has another tip: “Check the PL numbers on medicine packaging. Often you’ll find the exact same medication for a much cheaper price, packaged by a different brand. A lady in the chemist told me this years ago and I’ve found it to be true lots of times! 

Jane Wallace from Skinted Minted Mum goes for other common over the counter remedies: “My mother always made us gargle with aspirin for a sore throat. Or with TCP for general illness prevention. I think the first one used to work, the second was a bit patchy!”

What are your favourite budget home remedies? Where do you find the cheapest over the counter medications? I would love to hear so let me know in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Budget home remedies and medications

  1. My daughter baths in Epsom salts and finds it helps with the pain from ME/fibromyalgia. I use eucalyptus to inhale for colds and blocked sinuses. I find mint tea and my wheat bag helpful for IBS.

  2. Vinegar also works well for fungal toenails. Just apply all over and under the toenail with a cotton bud dipped in the vinegar. I used malt as that’s what I had in the cupboard but I’m sure any would do.

  3. If the tooth pain is because of gum infection, then you can do warm saline rinses and if the tooth pain is due to the tooth, then you can use clove oil, garlic or turmeric powder.

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