8 Alternative Russian Remedies That Actually Work

| © Honolulu Media / Flickr
Zita Whalley

For every piece of medical advice that will cure and alleviate minor ailments and illnesses, there is an alternative solution. From garlic up the nose to cabbage on the breast, here are eight alternative Russian remedies that claim to cure everything from colds to hair loss to hangovers.

Loved by over 40s

Garlic to fend off colds

Garlic is a common home remedy, frequently used to help fight off pesky colds. In Russia, this can be done by eating it for general immunity, stringing together several cloves and wearing it around your neck to kill off a virus, or, used as a nose drop. It is said that an effective cure for a head cold is to mix garlic juice with water, which can then be used as nasal drops once or twice a day. Parents also have been known to pop a clove in their child’s pocket to ward off colds.

Use freshly chopped garlic

Seed tea for poor circulation

Thanks to Russia’s long, cold winters, there are several home remedies that are said to cure poor circulation. Sunflower seed tea claims to help with circulation, as well as improve liver function, hair and bone quality. Simply steep a handful of the seeds in half a litre of boiling water and let it sit for a couple of hours. Drink a cup of this tea every morning on an empty stomach to get that blood flowing again.

Soup for hangovers

Although the astringent Solyanka – packed with pickles, capers, lemon and meat – is the go-to soup for a hangover, any delicious Russian broth will revitalise the sorriest of folk the day after the night before. Solyanka is the soup of choice for its sourness, and so it is no surprise pickle and sauerkraut brine (and pickles and sauerkraut actually) are also recommended remedies to soothe the body after a session. It is believed that these sour foods are gentle on the digestive system and replenish fluids and electrolyte balance.

Solyanka is ideal after a boozy night.

Steaming for life

Russians believe a good steam will see you through winter in good health. For an easy but awkward way to fix a cold, try steaming your elbows and knees over buckets of hot water. Or, for a full body steaming try a banya. Russia’s sauna culture include veniks (a bundle of tree twigs), which are used to swat the body when it is particularly sweaty at the end of a steaming session. They are used to give an all over body massage and depending on the type of tree the twigs are taken from, veniks can assist in tightening pores, improve the condition of the skin, or be used for their anti-inflammatory or antibacterial properties.

Root vegetables for hair loss

Three to four carrots is all you need if you’re worried about thinning hair. Wash them, grate them, then rub them into your scalp and roots. Leave the grated carrots on your head for 15 – 20 minutes and then wash off and shampoo and condition as normal. Use the carrot mixture before every hair wash and supposedly the hair-fortifying qualities in the carrots will work its magic. Also, it is common to wash hair in the water that is used to soak birch veniks in a banya. This is believed to prevent baldness.

Rubbing carrots into your scalp should help with hair loss.

Salt and beetroot for sore throats

Gargling with salty water is a common home remedy for sore throats. Russians take half a teaspoon of salt and half a teaspoon of baking soda and mix it with a bit of room temperature water. This is then gargled and spat out until the liquid is finished (this mixture can also be taken through the nose for a full sinus flush). However, for more persistent irritated throats, or to calm down tonsillitis symptoms, try a beetroot and vinegar concoction. Grate a raw beetroot and add a teaspoon of vinegar (apple cider vinegar is ideal). Stir well and let it sit for around 20 minutes, squeeze the liquid out of the beets, discard and sip the juice.

Raspberry jam and tea for colds

This is another alternative remedy for colds, and one that is based on the anti-inflammatory properties of raspberries and far more delicious that cough syrup. Home-made raspberry jam and tea is said to help alleviate the symptoms of a cold. It is taken by the spoonful, along with a cup or two of hot black tea, which can have a slice of lemon in it if you like.

Fresh Fruit

Cabbage leaves for mastitis

Breastfeeding mothers might serve themselves well by keeping a head of cabbage in the fridge just in case. Known to have anti-inflammatory properties, cold cabbage leaves are a home remedy for women with mastitis. This is a condition most commonly occurring during breastfeeding when milk ducts become blocked and breasts become sore and inflamed. It is also used to soothe general irritations that occur when feeding a child. Keep the cabbage cool in the fridge, wash a few of the inner leaves under cool water when necessary, and apply them to the breast like you would a plaster.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.