Traditional Western medicine is beyond helpful and can be lifesaving in certain circumstances. There are a time and place for pharmaceutical intervention. However, nature has provided us with a wealth of healing herbs, foods, spices, plants and nutrients that can work wonders in our bodies — without negative side effects.
Allow us to peek into your medicine cabinet and suggest natural alternative treatments to take the place of a few of the over-the-counter or prescription medicines often used. We’ve made a list of the most common ailments that drive us to the medicine cabinet. For each condition, we’ve got a more natural remedy that you can take instead of its man-made alternative.
If you’re anything like me, when you have a headache, you’ll do just about anything to make the pain go away. Naproxen, aspirin and ibuprofen are some of the more common over-the-counter pain relievers that are often stocked in most medicine cabinets.
What’s a more natural option? One of the most effective natural remedies for a headache or a migraine is magnesium. Most headache sufferers are deficient in magnesium. Adults should try a dose of 300 milligrams of magnesium at the onset of a headache.
Another natural headache remedy is peppermint and lavender essential oils massaged into the head and scalp.
Finally, the herb butterbur has been shown to decrease in a headache and migraine pain quite effectively. For adults, 100 mg, taken with food, will reduce headache pain.
In 2017, Americans spent more than $300 million on the leading over-the-counter antacid. Sadly, this particular purple pill can cause headaches, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, difficulty breathing, a rash and several other problems.
What’s a more natural option? Ginger is amazing for just about any stomach ailment you may have. If you’re nauseous, you have indigestion or you feel icky, ginger can help. You can use fresh ginger. Just peel a little bit and chew on it until your stomach feels better. Dried ginger or candied ginger will also work. Ginger tea is helpful too.
Another good old-fashioned remedy is baking soda. Or, as my father-in-law would call it, “A dose of sodee.” Put about a teaspoon of baking soda in a small glass of water and drink it down. It isn’t tasty. But, often, when nothing else will work, baking soda will do the trick.
Benzocaine is the best-selling toothache medicine in your local drugstore. However, common side effects of the drug include stinging, skin tenderness and itching. More serious side effects include dizziness, headache and skin blistering.
What’s a more natural option? Clove essential oil is excellent for calming tooth pain. Garlic is also effective at reducing tooth pain and also killing harmful bacteria that could be causing the inflammation.
When you’re down sick with the flu, it’s tempting to take an over-the-counter cold and flu medicine to help you feel better so you can get back to work. However, most of the cold remedies you find at the drugstore will do little more than mask your symptoms — keeping you sicker longer. The active ingredients in the leading cold and flu medicines can cause some uncomfortable side effects. Dextromethorphan is one of the main ingredients in most cold medicines. It can cause blurred vision, dizziness, slowed breathing and nervousness. Prescription cold and flu medicines can cause even more serious side effects.
What’s a more natural option? Elderberry syrup is a very effective and safe remedy for people of all ages who are sick with the flu. It can be purchased at most drugstores and can also be made at home easily.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic as well. If you are sick with the flu, you can chop up five garlic cloves into pill-sized pieces and swallow them with a tall glass of water. Do this each day that you are symptomatic until you feel better.
A final effective treatment for the flu is peroxide. Put a few drops in your ear and let it sit in the ear until all the bubbling stops. It could take up to 10 minutes. Then, switch to the other side and do the same thing. Repeat the peroxide treatment a couple of times throughout the day until you are feeling better.
Often with the intense pain of an earache, you might consult a doctor, who will give you an antibiotic. While it may work to get rid of your earache, it will also eliminate the good bacteria in your digestive tract.
What’s a more natural option? Peroxide in the ears — both sides — as described above is the first step. Then, apply basil, rosemary, tea tree and lavender essential oils on the outside of the ear and around it — not inside the ear canal. Your earache will likely be gone in the morning. This treatment works faster than prescription antibiotics.
A laxative will get things moving when you’re constipated. But, it might also cause stomach cramping, nausea and dehydration. You may also be in the bathroom more often than you’d like.
What’s a more natural option? For constipation, there are several natural remedies that can help. First, try prunes, apples and apple juice. Oatmeal with ground flaxseeds might also do the trick. If you’ve tried the dietary remedies and you’re still backed up, try a tea made with senna. Senna is an herb that can stimulate the nerves in your digestive system and get things moving again. It’s gentle and effective. You can find it sold in tea bags at most supermarkets or online.
When you’ve got a case of diarrhea, you can do little else than camp out in the bathroom all day. You need something that will work quickly to firm up your bowels and help you jump back into life. Loperamide hydrochloride is the active ingredient in the leading over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicine. The side effects of loperamide hydrochloride can be worse than having diarrhea though. They include a skin rash with blistering, dizziness, drowsiness and bloody stools.
What’s a more natural option? A better, more natural treatment for diarrhea is fenugreek seeds. Fenugreek is a spice, often found in curries and other Indian foods. You can find fenugreek seeds at the grocery store in the spice aisle. Buy whole seeds and chew them up as they have a mild taste. Fenugreek has a high mucilage content and can work to stop diarrhea quickly.
Another remedy is chamomile tea. Chamomile tea is antispasmodic and can relieve stomach pain and reduce inflammation in the digestive tract.
Caused by the ringworm fungus, athlete’s foot is an itchy, uncomfortable and highly contagious skin condition. The most common medication for athlete’s foot is butenafine hydrochloride. This medicine is relatively safe but, in some instances, it can cause the athlete’s foot to worsen and blister.
What’s a more natural option? Look no further than tea tree oil to cure athlete’s foot naturally. Tea tree oil is a powerful antifungal remedy. Soak your foot in about 45 drops of tea tree oil per 1 gallon of warm water for 10 minutes. Then, dry your foot and rub straight tea tree oil into the infected area.
Another potent antifungal is oregano oil. You can apply oregano oil directly to the foot a couple of times a day to relieve athlete’s foot infections.
Even the most naturally minded individuals would consider taking a prescription antibiotic for strep throat. Strep throat is a serious condition that can lead to rheumatic fever if not treated properly. While antibiotics may get rid of strep throat, we know the side effects of antibiotics can be unpleasant.
What’s a more natural option? As soon as you start to feel a sore throat, and you see the white patches near the back of your mouth, you must begin treatment. Chop five cloves of fresh garlic into pill-sized pieces and swallow them with a glass of water. Follow the garlic with about five drops of oil of oregano in a shot of water. Then take as much vitamin C as your bowels will tolerate — start with 3,000 mg, twice a day — and a sublingual B complex supplement. This remedy works wonders. If your symptoms have not significantly improved within 24 hours, you must see a doctor.
Not being able to sleep is brutal. However, both over-the-counter and prescription sleeping pills come with side effects. They can also be habit-forming.
What’s a more natural option? My best recommendation for insomnia is calcium and magnesium, taken at bedtime. One of the main symptoms of a magnesium deficiency is insomnia. Calcium helps the brain produce the sleep hormone called melatonin. Taken together, calcium and magnesium will help you get to sleep and stay asleep through the night.
Natural Ingredients to Always Have in Your Medicine Cabinet
There are a few items that I am never without. Oil of oregano is perhaps the most useful, potent natural remedy that I always have on hand. It is useful for sore throats, fungal infections, insect bites, digestive problems and so much more. Oil of oregano is not the same as oregano essential oil. Look for oil of oregano with at least 80 percent carvacrol.
Fresh garlic is another natural remedy that is always in my home. Although I will admit, I don’t keep it in my medicine cabinet. Garlic is a natural antibiotic. I have successfully treated mastitis with garlic cloves more than once. It can eliminate strep throat, and I’ve seen it work wonders applied as a poultice.
A bottle of elderberry syrup, kept in your refrigerator, is wonderful to have on hand. You can take it when others around you are sick and keep yourself healthy.
A good stock of certain high-quality supplements is essential to keep in your medicine cabinet. Vitamin C, B complex, L-lysine, calcium, magnesium and zinc are incredibly useful and can provide relief from a variety of ailments.
Activated charcoal is important to have on hand in an emergency. In the case of a poisoning, snake bite or accidental overdose, activated charcoal can buy you some time until you get medical assistance.
Finally, a basic set of good quality essential oils is helpful for first aid. Keep tea tree, lavender, clove and lemon essential oils available for at home care.
Medicine Cabinet Makeover
Take an inventory of your medicine cabinet and stock up on natural remedies that can help your body overcome all sorts of afflictions. The Earth provides us with everything we need to stay well.
Dextromethorphan side effects. (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.drugs.com/sfx/ dextromethorphan-side-effects.html
How to get rid of diarrhea. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.top10homeremedies.com/how-to/how-to-get-rid-of-diarrhea.html
Leading US antacid tablet brands in 2017 based on sales. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/194544/leading-us-antacid-tablet-brands-in-2013-based-on-sales/
Nexium side effects. (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.purplepill.com/heartburn-relief/nexium-side-effects.html