For every one ailment, there are a score of home remedies that claim to cure it. Some are effective--like drinking ginger tea for a troubled stomach or soaking in Epsom salts to soothe achy muscles--while others are pretty useless or, worse still, dangerous. Here are six of the wackiest old wives' tales out there. Many are familiar, a few are bizarre, but they all have one thing in common: Don't try them at home.

1. Excessive mouthwash can cure chronic bad breath. You might think that overdosing on mouthwash will eliminate any odor-causing bacteria. But in fact, you're just masking a situation that should be evaluated by your dentist or a periodontist. Also, since alcohol is an ingredient in many brands, too much mouthwash can irritate your gums, and as a result, make your breath worse.

2. To cure a hangover, you need to imbibe a little hair of the dog. Although masking the symptoms of overdrinking with more drinking might provide a short-term respite from the headache and overall malaise associated with a bad hangover, it will only delay and worsen the inevitable. You're much better off taking some aspirin and drinking lots of water, orange juice, and sports drinks with electrolytes.

3. You should periodically clear out your intestines with a colonic. The alternative therapy has become so popular that in 2006, Johns Hopkins issued a health alert advising against the practice. Research has yet to establish that colonics can produce any beneficial effects, but experts are aware of the procedure's risks:  The equipment could perforate the colon, introduce infection, or cause an allergic reaction, and the colonic could rinse out minerals and good bacteria that your body needs. So what will keep your intestines relatively clean? Lots of fiber and water.

4. If you want to get rid of freckles, rub a live frog on your skin. Or you can cover your face in bull's blood or use rainwater that has collected on a gravestone. Over the years, people have devised myriads of creative ways to combat freckles (many of us remember the episode of The Brady Bunch in which the ever-lovable Jan Brady rubbed a lemon all over her face in the hopes of becoming freckle-free.) If you too despise these patches of pigmentation, dermatologists recommend laser removal or the prescription cream Retin-A.

5. Ear candling cleanses the ear canal and relieves everything from tinnitus and sinus pressure to depression and lack of energy. The basic idea behind ear candling is that by sticking a candle and funnel in your ear, you'll produce a vacuum that extracts impurities trapped inside your ear canal. A 1996 study proved that it doesn't; actually if it did, the pressure it would require to draw out earwax would be enough to rupture your eardrum. 

6. If you burn your skin, treat it with ice or butter. First- and second-degree burns stand the best chance for healing if you immediately place them under cool, running water for several minutes. Butter will do little besides establishing a bacteria farm around the wound, and ice will further the damage done to the skin.