9 Unusual Uses for Aspirin

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About: I'm an English teacher and former Instructables staff member.

It's 6:30 AM and you feel a tightness in your chest. Antacids don't help. Your jaw is tightly set and your arm feels numb. Heart attack? Or is it an unreasonable response to a new zit? Either way, aspirin can help.

From heart attacks to zits, in the garden and the laundry room, aspirin has a ton of uses beyond relieving pain. Some of these I've tried, others I should try but haven't, and a few I hope to never try. You, the reader, are left to judge which is which. 

Step 1: Heart Attack Mitigation

If you're feeling a bit of a heart attack coming on, pop some aspirin and dial 911. (Or your local emergency number.)

The aspirin has an anti-clotting effect that inhibits platelets from doing their little plateletty jobs. You know, hanging out together in large groups, getting rowdy, and creating thromboses. This is perfect for those occasions when you're on the verge of death due to an unplanned cardiac episode.

According to the American Journal of Cardiology, chewing the aspirin has a more immediate effect than washing the pills down with a cool glass of water. So that's good to know. Especially if you're a man over 50 with less plaque on your teeth than in your arteries.

Step 2: Remove Sweat Stains

Sure, the collar of that undershirt looks fine, but the armpits are caked and yellow like you're developing uranium for a nascent nuclear weapons program. Gross. Apparently the aluminum salts in most antiperspirants mixes with sweat to create a mostly-waterproof stain. The salicylic acid in aspirin makes a nice little anti-yellowcake mixture that can eradicate those sweat stains.

Crush up enough pills and mix with water to create enough paste to cover the sweat stain of your choice. Let it sit for several minutes then rinse. Launder as usual. This treatment is good for any protein-based stain, so pull it out for those times when you get some of that nosebleed on your shirt or dribble egg yolk onto your pants due to over-over-easiness.

Note: pound for pound, this is an expensive method of removing sweat stains (compared to using lemon juice, enzymatic meat tenderizer, or white vinegar), but it's a good thing to bear in mind if you're surprised by a serious stain in a random hotel room that stocks aspirin, but not meat tenderizer, in the lobby gift shop.

Step 3: Restore Hair Color

Big swimmer? Blonde? If so, you know that chlorine can do a number on your hair. But a little aspirin can take care of that.

Dissolve 6-8 aspirin pills in water, then rub the solution into your hair. Let it sit for 10 minutes and rinse it out. The greenish effect should start to disappear after a couple of aspirin washes.

When I was in fifth grade, there was a girl in my class with hair so blonde and fine it looked like fiberoptic wire. She was a swimming fiend, so her hair was always just a touch too green in the summertime. In middle school, she acheived the Edenic self-consciousness of Eve and began to use aspirin to fix the greenness. She is now incredibly successful and one of 17* female engineers in the whole world. Aspirin helped her become a foxy materials engineer, imagine what it could do for you.


*I know that there are more. But there are still too many girls being discouraged from careers in science and math. The real number is probably in the low to mid 50s.

Step 4: Zap Zits and Punish Pimples

Salicylic acid. It's one of the topical applications used for acne treatment, and it just so happens to be a natural part of aspirin.

Crush up the pill and add some water to make a paste. Apply the aspirin paste to your pimple and wait for several minutes. Rinse off without rubbing too much, and the pimple should diminish in redness and size. Spot treatment for those "haven't showered since Friday" weekend camping trips where you want to look your best.

Possibly true fact: the taste of salicylic acid can discourage bears from gnawing on your face.

Step 5: Treat Bug Bites and Stings

Just like the acne treatment, a little dab of aspirin paste will do you when it comes to mosquitoes, flies, and the other stinging and biting bugs out there.

A great little camping piece of know-how: willow trees and their ilk contain the natural equivalent of Bayer. Some bark will have a similar effect to the paste described earlier. When I was a Boy Scout in Colorado, we used to strip small sections of bark off of aspen trees and treat the bug bites we brought upon ourselves by being fragrantly scrumptious.

Step 6: Organic Gardener's Dream

A crushed aspirin in water (one pill to one gallon) helps plants to fight infection and stay alive during traumatic plant experiences like transplanting, cutting, cloning, or zombie attacks. If your plants are dying in front of your eyes, it can be tempting to resort to extreme measures to rescue your little green friends with a water-soluble fertilizer. When stressed, however, plants can't really absorb all those delicious nitrates and phosphates. Dumping fertilizer on a dying plant is like giving a heart attack victim a multivitamin: not quite the ideal time for bioavailablility. Aspirin is the solution (pun!) for your mild flora emergency.

According to the exhaustive research I just performed on Wikipedia, salicylic acid can induce specific changes in root, stem, and leaf structure that create more robust plants. It can also help fruits and vegetables grow bigger and stronger. It will help your plants resist disease, insects, and unusually weak hailstorms.

Additionally, an aspirin solution will also help your cut flowers last longer in the vase so you can go nearly a full week before raking up the dead petals. Unless you're playing the "he loves me, he loves me not" game, in which case you should just count the petals in advance to determine your romantic status and let the aspirin keep the bouquet pretty.

Step 7: Treat Dandruff

Itchy flakiness got your shoulders looking like snowdrifts? If you wear a black American Apparel hoodie that looks a bit like a heather gray American Apparel hoodie, perhaps you should consider using aspirin in your daily head-washing regimen.

Crush up two aspirins into the normal amount of shampoo you use, then leave it in for several minutes. Don't do it with a dandruff-specific shampoo, but this is a great method of maintaining great-smelling hair without distributing enough fine white powder to cause an asbestos scare or DEA raid. If you're concerned about wasting water while you wait, shut off the water and just hang out for a minute while the aspirin does its job.

Step 8: Squeeze the Last Juice From a Car Battery

Electrolytes. They're not just in sports drinks and the athletes who drink them. They're also an important part of a car's battery. But sometimes your car's battery needs an extra shot of juice to crank out just a little more energy to get your car moving. Aspirin apparently makes a lovely electrolytic stimulant that'll get you out of a really serious pickle. Because if you're popping open your car battery, things are probably pretty serious and AAA isn't coming any time soon.

Pry off the cover of the battery with a screwdriver or pry bar and drop two crushed aspirin into each cell of the battery. Theoretically, this should cause a chemical reaction that changes some of the sulfuric acid into acetic acid and provide just enough oomph to get the engine to start turning over.

For bonus MacGyver points, try using cola to take any corrosion off of the terminals. If it's really cold outside, heat up the battery with whatever you've got on hand. Pouring hot water over the engine and battery itself (with everything disconnected) might help. YMMV. Literally.

Step 9: Treat a Hangover

Acetaminophen + alcohol = vicious, liver-destroying poison. Don't take Tylenol when you've been drinking.

After a long night out on the town, if you are in any condition to do so, take two aspirin before bed. These will help decrease the severity of the hangover in the morning by inhibiting prostaglandins. (You know you don't want those prostaglandins running around inside of your body like evil elves while you have the spins.) Then take two more in the morning with some breakfast. It'll decrease the severity of the morning headache and decrease the elf- or prostaglandin-related swelling.

If it's one of those mornings where the hair of the dog sounds as appetizing as actual canine fur, aspirin's your ticket to a productive day.

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    397 Discussions

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    J Alexander

    3 years ago

    Note: The Netherlands Study on aspirin, available on-line, shows that people who take aspin bleed in their brains. It has been known that enteric coating helps keep people feom stomach bleeds, and moves aspirin to the intestines. The enteric coating won't stop bleeds to the brain. Surgeons advise patients to stop taking aspirin or other blood thinners prior to surgery. Who knows when a person will need emergency surgery? There is an epidemic of dementia in the USA. Multiple brain bleeds, even small ones, will stack up over time, causing serious future risks. The cure to hangovers is not to get one. The other iuses for aspirin here seem good, and I will likely try a couple.

    19 replies
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    lakawakJ Alexander

    Reply 11 months ago

    There is not an epidemic of dementia. People are simply living much longer to the point where dementia is likely, compared to the past when the average lifespan was 65 or so before certain old age issues could really take hold for most. Same with many cancers. Cancer is going to get everyone eventually. If we removed every other cause of dying, then the rate of cancer would be 100%. But when people were only living to the mid 60s, fewer people got cancer. Not because it was less prevalent, but because fewer people are dying of other causes before their cells can break down from cancer.

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    Homee2010J Alexander

    Reply 3 years ago

    I work in a Cardiac Cath lab, and I see a lot of heart attacks. Sometimes, ASA en-route in the ambulance, or at home, even prior to EMT arrival, can dissolute the platelet plug causing the MI, and can mitigate the effects on the myocardium. True, there are risks associated with EVERY medication, but, it the throes of an MI (heart attack), time is muscle (heart muscle). We work diligently to minimize the effects of MI on long term survivability, and ASA is one of our front-line meds. My 2 cents' worth.

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    J AlexanderHomee2010

    Reply 3 years ago

    If I were having a heart attack, I would take the aspirin. For a hangover? No. It appears that alcohol poisoning and aspirin both kill brain cells. For those with conditions like CADASIL, who are already suffering brain bleeds, aspirin just worsens it. Overuse of aspirin is not a good idea.

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    gingerbakerJ Alexander

    Reply 1 year ago

    Proof source, please? I have read that there is no evidence of brain cell loss from alcohol use. I have never even heard of such an association with aspirin use, let alone low dose regimens for prevention of heart attack, stroke.

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    SherylinRMgingerbaker

    Reply 1 year ago

    @gingerbaker

    If you can, look at the autopsy brains of drinkers and non-drinkers. THAT will show you the amount of brain tissue loss better than anything a person can tell you.

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    bobGuerra_IIJ Alexander

    Reply 3 years ago

    I used asprin and red wine in moderation with excercise for years and now im forty and i look 28 still

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    zackerbobGuerra_II

    Reply 3 years ago

    im 50 but feel like im 60... but I still think like im 18 . lol Maybe I just need to drink more. lol

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    GraceA41zacker

    Reply 1 year ago

    I'm 49 but I feel 60. Let's drink lol

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    GraceA41GraceA41

    Reply 1 year ago

    I meant 40 but feel 60. Cheers!! Haha

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    zackerchris.gaines.71

    Reply 3 years ago

    lol... is that Moon Shine? cause if it is, I'll try it! lol (seriously, what is it?)

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    savfamzacker

    Reply 1 year ago

    My husband swears by this. It helps your heart and even though it is an over the counter supplement his cardio doc recommended that he take it. He can tell when he has missed a dose. It's a little pricey but to him it is well worth it.

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    CaptSnazzacker

    Reply 2 years ago

    It's a natural pill. - Easily found in the OTC Vitamin section of your drug store or health food store

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    J AlexanderbobGuerra_II

    Reply 3 years ago

    What does your brain look like? MRI? In any event, 40 is still young. MRI at 50, but if there is accumulated damage, you will not be able to fix it. The statistics for dementia in the USA shows an epidemic. Of course, there are far more factors than asprin there. Moderation is good. There is a connection between brain bleeds and dementia, and now that the connection shows asprin to be a culprit... why risk more damage?

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    mid_life_crisisJ Alexander

    Reply 3 years ago

    I've got a very narrow LAD Artery and pretty much nothing by way of collaterals, so my cardiologist has me on 325 MG of aspirin every day. I guess my wife is going to be changing my diapers soon. I don't come to this site to get depressed.

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    JacobD89mid_life_crisis

    Reply 1 year ago

    I imagine any bleeding into the brain comes from higher doses than 325 mg. Even if there is a study out there--I'm at the point where I question the methodology of most, even double blind studies. I try to stay away from the internet when it comes to most health matters. I turn in Woody Allen by the next morning. "You mean it could be a brain tumor."