Getting to the pharmacy to find relief for those minor, everyday ailments can be a headache in and of itself. So when you can find home remedies or DIY treatments for everyday issues, it can be a big relief — especially when one is right inside of your fridge. That’s right, we’re talking about that carton in your refrigerator and how milk can be used as a home remedy for many different occasions.
We all know that milk and other dairy products are rich in calcium, which is an essential mineral to keep bones strong, according to the Mayo Clinic. But milk can also be used alone, or in conjunction with other ingredients, as a remedy for common, everyday ailments. From skin conditions to sleeping problems, that gallon could save you a trip to the pharmacy — and here are six ways how.
1. (Chocolate) milk can help your recovery after a workout
If your gym game is serious, you probably go prepared with some post-workout sustenance to make sure your body is recovering and replenishing everything it lost during your workout. But next time you get ready for an intense lifting session, instead of a protein shake, you could just bring it back to your elementary school days and pack some chocolate milk as a post-workout recovery drink. “Chocolate milk is a very effective post-workout recovery drink after a long [and] hard workout, since it’s easy to purchase or to make yourself, inexpensive, and can significantly help aid in muscle recovery,” registered dietitian nutritionists and certified personal trainers Lyssie Lakatos, RDN, CDN, CFT, and Tammy Lakatos Shames, RDN, CDN, CFT, known as the Nutrition Twins, tell Bustle. “Chocolate milk is rich in carbohydrates and protein, and carbohydrates will help to replete lost glycogen (muscle energy stores), while the protein helps to rebuild muscles that have been broken down after a workout.”
2. Milk can help with sleep
If you’re like me, you toss and turn for hours in bed before actually falling asleep. A huge contributor to this insomnia could be stress or anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic. If this is the case, you might want to drink a warm glass of milk before bed. “It is common for anxiety sufferers to toss and turn at night as their fear, dread and worry surface. Magnesium and calcium can soothe anxiety,” Sherianna Boyle, a licensed school psychologist and author of Emotional Detox for Anxiety, tells Bustle.
Michael Breus, PhD, a sleep doctor and clinical psychologist, also previously told The Kitchn that part of the effect may, too, come from the ritual of drinking warm milk that taps into fond childhood memories: “My guess is that the good feelings that came from the person who gave you the milk (mom, dad, grandma, etc.) comforted a person so they relax, which allows the natural sleep process to occur,” he told The Kitchn.
3. It can be a remedy for spicy food
When your tongue is on fire but you just can’t put your fork down, you need something to calm that heat — and milk just might be the answer to the problem. David Barbour, co-founder of health and wellness company Vivio Life Sciences, explains to Bustle that “milk has a protein called casein that binds with the spicy substance, capsaicin, derived from spicy foods. So when you drink milk after eating a food with capsicum, the active capsaicin that is reacting with your taste buds is bonded to the non-spicy casein and washes away.” In addition, he explains, ”capsaicin oil is also fat-soluble and will dissolve in milk fats.”
4. It can help with a painful sunburn
The next time you “accidentally” skip out on sunscreen when you’re out on the beach and come back with a painful sunburn, relief can be found in your fridge Soaking a cloth in ice, cold water, and cold milk and then applying it to the sunburn can help ease the pain, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, previously told Reader’s Digest. SELF notes that it’s the anti-inflammatory powers that are at play.
5. It can soothe a sore throat
Contrary to popular belief, drinking milk when you have a sore throat doesn’t really make phlegm worse, according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, dairy can actually help soothe the pain of a sore throat. A study that examined the relationship between dairy consumption and mucus production found that people with sore throats who drank dairy did not have increased mucus production — they actually had fewer coughing bouts than those who reduced their dairy intake. In fact, frozen dairy products can actually help your sore throat feel better, the Mayo Clinic points out.
6. It can be mixed with turmeric as an immunity booster
Sometimes you just need a pick-me-up for your immune system, and milk mixed with a little turmeric can be the solution. Turmeric is known to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help boost your overall immune system, and has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. And “if you add turmeric to your milk, you’ll get a hefty dose of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, both which hasten muscle recovery,” the Nutrition Twins tell Bustle. “Antioxidants will ‘mop up’ cell-damaging free radicals while anti-inflammatory compounds will ease the inflammation created after a workout,” they say, and this occurs even when you don’t work out.