Why You Should Never Use Over the Counter Cold Medicine |

Why You Should Never Use Over the Counter Cold Medicine

Roxanne December 18, 2012

When you or your child are sick the last thing you want to do is to prolong the symptoms, I know. Over the counter cold medicine seems like the quickest way to get relief, so many people turn to pain relievers, decongestants, and cough syrups. In the short term, it might seem like it helps but in reality, it is just temporarily masking the symptoms and actually working against the body’s ability to heal itself.


A common medication used with children and adults is a decongestant to dry up all of the extra mucus. First, let’s look at why the mucus is there. When you become ill there is a build-up of toxins in the body that need to come out.  The body creates more mucus in the nasal passages to help clear out those toxins. It becomes a vehicle to carry the garbage out of your body. If we use medications to dry up the mucus we are doing our body a disservice by keeping the toxins and germs inside our body with no way to get out. This alone will make any cold or flu stick around longer then it would have without the medicine.

As an alternative to decongestants, a great way to clear mucus is steam. A warm steam bath helps to loosen mucus and help drain it out faster to help you breathe. Essential oils are a great way to help clear congestion as well. Essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus can be diffused or used in a chest rub to open up chest congestion.

Fever Reducer

Fever is part of the body’s way of burning off germs and viruses in the body that are causing illness. Fever reducers also inhibit the body’s natural process of detoxifying and healing in children and adults. Although, if you have a young infant that gets a fever you should call your pediatrician or visit the emergency room. Older children and adults that have a fever should let it run its course to help burn off the toxins. It’s important to rest, stay hydrated, and stay bundled up at night. Baths with Epsom salt can help to sweat out a fever and many parents use the wet sock treatment with children at night to lower a high fever.

Why You Should Never Use Over the Counter Cold Medicine

What to do When You or Your Child is Sick

You may be thinking, if I can’t use over the counter medications then what can I do. Some of the methods I have mentioned above are great alternatives to over the counter medications. These methods help the body to heal instead of slow the healing and detoxifying process.

In general, when you or your child is sick its time to slow down, rest, eat less food, drink warm broths, stay hydrated, and sleep. Hydration is important but remember to drink water and tea, not fruit juice or soda. Sugary drinks like fruit juice and soda are even more important to stay away from while your child is sick. Sugar feeds infections and will slow down healing so you want to keep sugar to a minimum while illness is present. Read more about Holistic Cold Remedies in this blog post.

Have you given up over the counter medications? What alternative methods have worked for you?


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Roxanne and her family live a holistic lifestyle, eating healthy whole foods, practicing yoga, and using natural remedies and alternative medicine. After a career in the fashion industry in New York, Roxanne went back to school and was trained as a Certified Holistic Health Coach and started her own business helping other moms to create their own holistic lifestyle. On any given day Roxanne can be found cooking and creating delicious healthy recipes, creating handmade natural beauty products, practicing yoga and meditation, learning about the latest information on nutrition and health, or having fun with her daughter and husband. Read more from Roxanne on her blog The Holistic mama
  1. I do not use over the counter medications, but am coming pretty close to finding something. I have been doing everything possible for relief and its not helping. I am 38 weeks pregnant and pretty sure I have bronchitis.


  2. Homemade herbal syrups work very well with elderberry, echinacea, licorice root, etc. Also there is a company called Boirin that makes homeopathic syrups that could be an alternative to nyquil. I have used their cough syrup before and it helps a lot.


  3. I just posted this article on Facebook and soon after got a comment regarding nyquil. I don’t use it but what would be a good alternative? I’d like to recommend this to my friend.


  4. Hi Roxanne, any ideas for children who have febrile seizures? When my children get a fever, they spike really quickly (can be within 20 minutes, even with socks, cool baths, wash cloths, etc) and have both had febrile seizures because of it. I don’t like OTC fever reducers, but I have yet to find something that can adequately keep their fevers from spiking too high AND that I feel confident enough going to sleep and knowing they won’t have a seizure at night. Ideas?


  5. I NEVER use over the counter cold medicine. I rely on good nutrition, some vitamin supplements (D3 especially) and a little help from natural remedies such as ACV and monolaurin. My husband turned me onto monolaurin and it works every time as long as I start taking it as soon as I feel like I’m coming down with something.


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Hi, I’m Kate.  I love medical freedom, sharing natural remedies, developing real food recipes, and gentle parenting. My goal is to teach you how to live your life free from Big Pharma, Big Food, and Big Government by learning about herbs, cooking, and sustainable practices.

I’m the author of Natural Remedies for Kids and the owner and lead herbalist at EarthleyI hope you’ll join me on the journey to a free and healthy life!

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