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Nutmeg Is an Odd Home Remedy for Styes

Home remedies may help make styes go away a bit sooner.

Q. My mother has a remedy for styes that I am not sure you know. We have used it in our family for over 60 years.

To get rid of a stye, swallow one-quarter teaspoon of nutmeg two days in a row. The stye will dry up.

When I was a kid, I would have several styes on each eye. I would wake up in the morning and my eyes would be practically welded shut after the drainage from the styes dried overnight.

I can remember that yucky yellow ointment the doctor gave me. It didn’t work very well at all, but the nutmeg took care of the problem.

A. Styes (or sties) occur when the oil glands at the base of eyelashes become infected. These red bumps are very tender and usually resolve within a week to 10 days without treatment.

Warm Compresses Several Times a Day

The usual treatment involves clean warm compresses, though antibiotic ointments are sometimes prescribed.


Nutmeg is a new one on us. Too much nutmeg could be toxic, so people should be cautious not to exceed the quarter teaspoon you mentioned.

Side effects may include palpitations, dry mouth, confusion, hallucinations and paranoia.

Other Remedies

Other home remedies for sties include rubbing a gold ring on cloth until the friction makes it warm, then applying the warm metal to the sore spot on the lid.

One reader reported that eating cabbage, cooked or in coleslaw, is helpful for preventing sties.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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