THERE'S no denying the secret healing powers in some everyday items, such as saltwater for a sore throat or honey for a cough.
But there are some natural remedies that you really ought to avoid - especially when it comes to your intimate areas.
Doctors warn that tea tree oil is one of them, after it emerged that ladies are using it in a bid to get rid of nasty smells down below.
It comes after a Mumsnet user revealed she uses the essential oil when douching to prepare for smear tests.
She said: "To me, it's like giving my teeth an extra good brush, flossing, mouthwash before seeing dentist. Just preparing myself, you know?"
But experts say that it can actually do more harm than good and mess with the body's pH balance, increasing the likelihood of nasty infections developing.
If the oil is undiluted this could potentially cause damage to or burn the lining of your vaginaDr Shree Datta
Even more worryingly, essential oils like tea tree could even burn the sensitive skin inside the vagina.
Dr Shree Datta, a gynaecologist at MyHealthcare Clinic, told the Daily Star: "I would not recommend using tea tree oil or any internal douching for your vagina.
"I would recommend in general avoiding any scented products or soaps internally in your vagina.
"If the oil is undiluted this could potentially cause damage to or burn the lining of your vagina or could negatively impact the delicate balance of healthy bacteria/your vaginal flora, putting you at risk of bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections."
It's not the first time women have been warned against putting stuff in their vagina.
As temperatures hit record-breaking levels over the weekend, docs were forced to warn women not to put ice lollies in their vaginas to try and cool off in the heatwave.
Not only is it unlikely to help you feel any cooler, it could actually cause infections, irritation and potential trauma down below.
Consultant gynaecologist Dr Anne Henderson told The Sun: "Anything with food colouring, dye, perfume or high levels of sugar will have a negative impact on vaginal pH and lactobacillus and could increase the risk of vaginal infection such as thrush and bacterial vaginosis.
How to prevent yeast infections
If you do think that you have a yeast infection, the best thing to do is go to your pharmacist or a GUM clinic.
They can help work out if you really do have something like thrush and which medications might work most effectively.
You'll often need antifungal medicine to get rid of thrush.
This can be a tablet you take, a tablet you insert into your vagina or a cream to relieve the irritation.
It should clear up within a week or after you've finished your course of meds.
It's harder to get rid of an infection once you have it but there are various things you can do to prevent one in the first place:
- Only have sex when you're aroused. Having intercourse when your vagina is dry can cause irritation and in turn, trigger an infection
- Never douche or use "feminine hygiene" products - your vagina cleans itself
- Avoid strong soaps and body washes
- Avoid tight and synthetic underwear
- Try sleeping in the buff to give your vagina a little breathing space
"Additives can also be potentially irritant in such a sensitive area as the vagina causing local inflammation and discomfort.
"On a more basic level the process could also be very messy as the ice lolly with melt very quickly and will leak upon dissolving.
"It is also a pointless exercise as the core body temperature, including internal organs such as the vagina, is set by the brain and cannot be altered by application of any cooling agent such as ice, which at best will provide a very temporary relief before the temperature rises once again.
"The body is very good at autoregulation and it is never a good idea to tamper."
Earlier this year it was revealed that women have been sticking garlic cloves up there to try and treat thrush.
According to an old wives' tale, putting a clove in there for three days can clear things up.
But it prompted gynaecologist Dr Jennifer Gunter to warn that the vagina is the "perfect" environment for botulism bacteria to grow.
Botulism is an incredibly serious condition which can leave people paralysed and at worst, is fatal.
While lab tests may have shown that garlic contains antifungal properties, Dr Gunter stressed that scientists haven't even tested whether that translates into mice - let alone humans.
Earlier this year, Marie Claire encouraged women to stick a sprig of parsley up there in order to induce a period.
Aside from the total lack of evidence, herbal inserts can be really dangerous.
Karin O’Sullivan, Clinical Lead at FPA Charity told The Sun: “It’s a bad idea to insert anything not prescribed by a practitioner inside your vagina.
"Your vagina has a natural healthy balance which can be upset by the introduction of foreign objects."
Don't cleanse with cucumber
Another bizarre home remedy that's been promoted by alternative health therapists and bloggers is to use cucumber to "cleanse" the vagina.
They claim that it can "help sanitise and maintain a pleasant odour", as well as potentially warding off STIs.
But medics have strongly advised against the method because, again, it's one of those things that can certainly do more harm than good.
Dr Gunter wrote on her blog: "This idea that some kind of vaginal cleansing is required, be it a peeled cucumber or the 'feminine washes' sold at drugstores, is misogyny dressed up as health care and I am having none of it.
"Vaginas are not dirty.
"Study after study after study tells us that douches, cleanses, steams, vinegar, pH balancing products, aloe, colloidal silver, garlic or whatever else passing as the vaginal snake oil du jour at best do nothing but have real potential for harming good bacteria or disrupting the mucosal surface.
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"Paradoxically, it will also cause odour."
It's best to see your doctor or a pharmacist if you've got any concerns about your intimate areas.
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