By Nina, Contributing Writer
A couple of years ago, right before I was about to give birth to my fourth child, a few friends and I got on the topic of what OTC products we keep on hand in case of illness. I was shocked to find out just how many syrups, ointments, pills, sprays, and creams other people have in their medicine cabinets. I guess I grew up just knuckling through illness, because I can honestly say I’ve never used a lot of OTC solutions. In addition to that, I was shocked at just how often other families seem to deal with illness. We just don’t tend to catch bugs. When I was younger I used to joke that whenever I got sick I went big- I’d never seem to have colds or flu or stomach bugs, I’d get things like gallstones. I realize though that dealing with frequent minor illnesses is just how it goes for most people, so I’m going to help you fill your medicine cabinet with safe and effective solutions so you can throw out all those nasty OTC solutions you’ve been relying on.
Why not just use OTC remedies?
There are a few reasons why we don’t opt to use drugstore products for our family:
Ingredients– have you ever read the label of medicines intended for children? They are full of high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, dyes, flavorings, preservatives, alcohols, and parabens. Not only is this gross, but it is counter-productive. These are exactly the types of chemicals that cause inflammation, allergic reactions and behavior issues among other side-effects. If my child is already sick enough to reach for a solution the last thing I want to do is create even more symptoms.
Recalls– Apparently my definition of safe differs from the FDA’s definition of safe. Over the years, dozens of drugs that were once advertised as safe have been recalled. These recalls happen for multiple reasons- over time enough people suffer severe enough side-effects that the FDA retracts the approval of safety; drugs are found to be contaminated with things like glass shards or tiny pieces of plastic; or (and this one freaks me out the most) a drug may contain a higher-than-intended concentration of active ingredients (meaning you could accidentally overdose even if you use it as labeled).
Side Effects- These medications often don’t help much and/or cause side-effects worse than the symptoms they are intended to treat. Headache, drowsiness or dry mouth may not seem like a big deal if you’re really sick and desperate but these side-effects are your body’s way of telling your there’s a problem. And these aren’t the only potential issues- many OTC drugs most people consider perfectly safe carry warning labels that indicate otherwise. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the leading cause of acute liver failure. My oldest son once suffered head-to-toe hives and trouble breathing from a dose of Benadryl.
What to Use Instead
First things first: Prevention. There are a few things we use often in our home to prevent illness.
1. Good quality probiotics- these can be taken in the form of kefir, water kefir, fermented foods, kombucha or a good quality powder.
2.Germ Fighter – an essential oil blend that is known for its antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antiparasitic, and antiseptic properties. This blend can be used to both prevent and treat illnesses like strep, staph, colds, flu, MRSA, and more.
3. Eliminate sugar -it’s also worth mentioning that sugar suppresses the immune system, so as a general rule sugar should be a special treat and not a regular part of your diet.
5. Vitamin D- having sufficient vitamin D levels is crucial for a strong immune system, so load up on foods that are high in vitamin D like pastured eggs and cod liver oil.
Now, how about those symptoms?
Headache and Pain- instead of OTC painkillers, consider peppermint essential oil, or a blend of oils like Muscle-Aid (this blend is intended for body aches, arthritis, back pain, etc.)
Sleep issues- lavender essential oil is well known for its calming properties. It is especially good for people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Serenity, a blend intended for calming, is good for all kinds of things that can interrupt sleep and cause trouble during waking hours too. It can help symptoms of ADHD, anxiety, hyperactivity, mental fatigue (trouble turning your brain off), insomnia and more. Many people are also deficient in magnesium, so using a topical magnesium spray or lotion can help with sleep since deficiency can lead to sleep issues. Magnesium spray is simple to make by dissolving magnesium flakes into equal parts water.
Allergies and Colds- many people find amazing relief with a trio of lavender, lemon and peppermint essential oils. It should also be noted that grains and pasteurized dairy products can increase symptoms of seasonal allergies.
Digestive Issues- peppermint, ginger are very helpful for heartburn, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, food poisoning, food allergies and morning sickness.
Would you like to learn more about essential oils? Click here.
Want to read more posts for our 31 Days to Better Health and Wellness Challenge? Here they are:
- No Poo: How I Wash My Curly Hair from Homemade Healthy Happy
- Sourcing Real Food from Naturally Living in the Maritimes
- When a Compliment Feels Like a Lie from Sensual Appeal
- Easy Wilted Baby Spinach from The Curious Coconut
- 10 Ways to Balance Hormones Naturally from Live Essentially
- 10 Ways to Relive Stress Naturally from Live Essentially