Nature’s Medicine Cabinet
What’s In Your Medicine Cabinet?
Americans stock their medicine cabinets with a staggering array of medications, ranging from “simple” OTC products like aspirin and antibiotic cream to powerful prescription medications.
The intent of this Nutrition News is to present safe, effective alternatives to the OTC products you may be using and to add to your knowledge of practical alternative choices.
The vast majority of common health issues can be treated at home using herbs, homeopathy, and specific nutrients.
Natural remedies are powerful healing tools and the body responds well to them. They often deliver benefits beyond the specific reason for which they were chosen in the first place.1
Many Pesky Common Complaints Have Natural Solutions
- Safe & Effective
- No Unwanted Side Effects
Upgrade Your Medicine Cabinet. Look Inside….
TOPIC: Natural First Aid
Siri Says: In this fifth edition of “Nature’s Medicine Cabinet”, I list remedies for 17 everyday health complaints, including headaches, tummy aches, insomnia, cold sores, cuts & bruises…. You get the picture. When I wrote the first issue, I went to my own store of remedies and made a list. Then readers gave me suggestions. Herein is the current total of natural medicine cabinet wisdom. xoxo ~ Siri
What’s In Your Medicine Cabinet?
Many Pesky Common Complaints
Have Natural Solutions
• Safe & Effective
• No Unwanted Side Effects
Upgrade Your Medicine Cabinet.
What’s In Your Medicine Cabinet?
Americans stock their medicine cabinets with a staggering array of medications, ranging from “simple” OTC products like aspirin and antibiotic cream to powerful prescription medications. The intent of this Nutrition News is to present safe, effective alternatives to the OTC products you may be using and to add to your knowledge of practical alternative choices.
The vast majority of common health issues can be treated at home using herbs, homeopathy, and specific nutrients. Natural remedies are powerful healing tools and the body responds well to them. They often deliver benefits beyond the specific reason for which they were chosen in the first place.1
The Natural Medicines
Oregano oil: Oreganum vulgare is best known for its disinfectant and antibacterial properties. It is very potent and must be used diluted by a neutral oil, such as almond. Test it for burning on the inside of the wrist before applying it on more vulnerable tissues. (Use 1 drop in a tsp of olive oil.) At home, we have used it for athlete’s foot; plus, it works against nail fungus. A web search revealed it can also help fight off infections by mixing 1 drop oregano oil with one drop of neutral oil and holding it under the tongue for a few minutes. Rinse it out and repeat at least 4x throughout the day. Lastly, it can be used as an inhalant against sinus infections and colds. Put a few drops into steaming water and inhale the steam.
Tea tree oil: This excellent antiseptic, fungicide, and bactericide is an essential oil from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, an Australian native. The oil is useful as first aid against infection. Reportedly its bactericidal action is increased once infection has set in. It penetrates deeply into infected areas, causing them to slough off and leaving a healthy surface.
Tea tree oil has very low toxicity and is virtually non-irritating, even to sensitive tissues. It is available in a number of forms, including personal deodorant. The pure oil has an antiseptic odor.
Grapefruit seed extract: (GSE): Also a powerful antiseptic, fungicide, and bactericide, GSE is so strong that you cannot use it undiluted. Soak the affected area in a weak dilution of the GSE several times per day, until complete healing has occurred. Also beneficial for treating sores in the mouth. (5-7 drops in 1/4c water is a good general dilution.)
Rescue® Remedy: The most popular of the Bach flower remedies. No natural medicine cabinet or first aid kit would be complete without a bottle. (I also carry a bottle in the glove compartment.) Use it immediately in emergencies, and in any case of shock, upset, or trauma or anytime you’re feeling “beside yourself”. The stock remedy is so strong that you can make extra by mixing four drops for every 1 oz. of distilled water. Also great for kids and pets.2
Have a cup of tea. Seems contradictory to have a caffeinated drink. However, both black and green teas contain theanine. Theanine is a combination of amino acids that neutralize the speedy, jagged, bad effects of caffeine without reducing its mind-energizing, fat-burning features.
Cranberry: Use as unsweetened cranberry juice concentrate (dilute and add stevia). Or choose commercially available dried cranberry capsules. Cranberry works by inhibiting the ability of bacteria to adhere to the bladder wall. The bacteria are washed out when you urinate. Some formulas contain dried cranberry combined with other herbs to support the urinary tract.
For instant relief, use 5-6 drops grapefruit seed extract (GSE) in 2 cups warm water sitz bath, several times per day. To help prevent infections, drink at least 2 quarts of water daily. Also, urinating or washing immediately following sexual relations may inhibit infections.3
Everybody gets the blahs. You know that occasional feeling of not wanting to face the day—and for no particular reason. Hyla Cass, MD, once gave me a helpful “recipe”: 375 mg DLPA with 500 mg tyrosine. I never need this more than two days in a row, and that seldom. However, you can take it 2x/d for a couple days. (After that, you had better get back to the gym.)
Bruising, Burns, Abrasions
Arnica: This homeopathic giant (Arnica montana) is essential to your natural medicine cabinet. It is useful for all types of bangs, bumps, and bruises, including soft tissue damage resulting from surgery. Arnica relieves pain, speeds healing, and reduces swelling. It is also good for muscle soreness, sprains, strains, and shock. Arnica is available as homeopathic granules, cream, ointment, gel, and massage oil.
Traumeel®: A product recommendation from us, the Khalsas, it is available as tablets, liquid and cream. The formula combines arnica with other homeopathics useful for sore or injured
tissue. We have used the cream for years, and would not be without it.4 Great for sore feet and hands.
Aloe vera gel: Nothing quickens healing and soothes a minor burn, sunburn, or skin irritation like aloe vera gel. This ancient remedy goes to work immediately to stop pain and heal the skin. Keep on hand so that it can be applied as soon as possible to the affected area. The bottled gel is much more convenient than using the actual plant. (Avoid products preserved with vitamin C or citric acid. These additives sting damaged skin.)
Calendula: Available as either cream or ointment, calendula flower is wonderful for soothing minor skin irritations.
Tea tree: Both the oil and cream are excellent for cleaning an open wound. Doesn’t sting.
Cold & Canker Sores
Cold Sore Relief: Formerly Herpilyn, this cream is extremely effective against herpes simplex I (cold sore type) and II (genital). Such impressive results, it is one of the first products ever mentioned by name in these pages. Another “must have”, it contains an extract of sweet melissa (lemon balm). If applied within 8 hours of onset, it out performs any other remedy, including the prescription drug Acyclovir.
Canker Sore Be Gone: Canker sores can be painful. This product contains a blend of herbs and menthol to kill the pain and heal the sore. It has a money-back guarantee.
Colds, Coughs, & Flu
Homeopathic remedies are the No. 1 protection here. Keep a homeopathic cold remedy, flu remedy, or combination cold and flu remedy available at all times. Take your remedy at the first sign of a cold or flu. A number of fine o homeopathic cold remedies are readily available. Common ingredients are bryonia, belladonna, aconite, and eupatorium.
The flu remedy we recommend is Oscillococcinum (oh- sill’o-cox-see’num). I (Siri) wouldn’t be without “Oscillo” which I keep in nightstands and travel cases. These remedies will knock out the chills, aches, and fever that signal an oncoming bout of the flu. Great for stopping sore throats.
Belladonna and bryonia are two single homeopathic remedies to always keep on hand. Belladonna is used for fevers that come on suddenly with reddening of the face, pupil dilation, and lots of heat radiating from the skin. (Give 3-30x or 6-12C every 15-30 minutes until symptoms subside.) Excellent children’s remedy.
Bryonia is the remedy for a dry cough that keeps you awake at night. Use it when the tickle begins. Supplements, commonly used to maintain health, can be therapeutic when used at the opportune time and in the appropriate amounts.
Buffered vitamin C crystals, such as Ester-C®, can be used throughout the entire cold and flu season. Studies show C can limit the length of a cold and stop hay fever in its tracks. Put 1/4 tsp (1 gram) in water or juice at the first sign of a cold or hay fever, and take every couple of hours.5
Elderberry is a traditional remedy for colds and flu because of its antiviral activity. Recent studies show that standardized extract of elderberry (Sambucus Canadensis nigra) appears to be effective against active influenza infections without adverse side effects.
Mushroom Complex use is recommended by Nan Fuchs, former editor of Women’s HealthLetter. Nan takes 6 capsules of Mycophyto (mushrooms grown on immune-enhancing herbs) three times a day for a day or two at the first sign of a cold/flu and never gets sick. Other mushroom formulas work too.
Zinc lozenges are imperative for killing sore throat germs! You can find zinc lozenges in combination with vitamin C, elderberry, or both.
Magnesium is so effective for constipation that many people use it as a supplement because it loosens their bowels. Adding about 200 mg 1-2x/d of citrate should take care of business. Be sure to drink lots of water. (See Siri Says on last page.)
Ground psyllium seed is an excellent stool softener and far less expensive than name brands with the same active ingredient fancied up with artificial sweeteners and flavors. Just stir it into fruit juice. Follow with a glass of water.
Mag Phos, the cell salt magnesium phosphate, is a remedy for earaches as well as coughing fits, shooting pains, hiccups, and writer’s cramp. Also recommended for menstrual cramps and Charley horses. (I take it to my Pilates workouts.)
For ear infections, a combo of garlic and mullein infused in pure olive oil brings immediate relief. This remedy is both healing and comforting to painful ears. Several herbal companies provide these wonderful drops. Warm the oil slightly, place a few drops directly into the ears, and close them up with a little clean cotton.
Eyebright herbal extract: I use this for gritty, sore, red, or tired eyes. Dilute 10 drops with a T of pure water and wash the eyes. This is also good for a sense of a film on the eyes.
Similasan® homeopathic eye drops are convenient and effective. There are formulas for tired eyes, allergic eyes, and computer eyes. The effect is immediate. Plus, they come in a container with a handy built-in dropper.
Stinging nettle plant: The sting from this plant (Urtica dioica) can be painful and annoying for hours. Paradoxically, freeze dried nettle is an excellent antihistamine, and can be employed to control sniffing and sneezing throughout the hay fever season with no side effects.
Homeopathic allergy remedies: These remedies quickly relieve sneezing, sniffing, watery eyes, swollen lids, itchy nose and skin, and nasal congestion that accompany seasonal allergies. (I am a long time fan, and often give these remedies to others suffering a reaction.)
For immediate relief of more intense symptoms, use 1000 – 2000 mg of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), along with high doses of buffered vitamin C.
Headaches can be more difficult to “treat” naturally because of the variety of causes.
Feverfew herb is useful for decreasing the frequency and intensity of migraine. In a British study, 70 percent of 279 participants reported decreased frequency of attacks or less painful attacks, or both. However, feverfew must be taken regularly, not just when a headache begins. It becomes more effective with long-term use.
The versatile homeopathics are wonderful for treating many types of headaches. Since effectivity depends on matching the remedy to your symptoms, the best choice here is to check a homeopathic reference guide or see a homeopath. Packaging may help.
Peppermint oil, rubbed into the temples, can relieve many types of headaches. Keep it away from your eyes!
Herbal repellants that contain citronella or other aromatic herbs prevent bites in the first place. Cover your (and your family’s) exposed skin.
Apis the homeopathic from honey bee venom, is useful for insect bites. It alleviates allergic reactions affecting the skin and/or respiratory system. Give 3x/30x or 6C/12C under the tongue every 15 minutes until the symptoms subside.
Sting Stop™ is a homeopathic gel which is very helpful. Apply it directly to bites. Re-apply if the itching or burning returns. (Ice also relieves bug bites. Rub it over the infected area for a few seconds.)
Within an hour of bedtime, sip a cup of chamomile or other generic nighty-night herbal tea blend. Need something stronger?
GABA: Take 500 mg of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) at least two hours past dinner. This amino acid helps the brain relax. A combination of GABA and melatonin (the sublingual form) is good for insomniacs!
Tryptophan is also good. Take on an empty stomach about 30 minutes before bedtime. Use 1-2 500 mg capsules.
5-HTP (hydroxy-tryptophan), a serotonin precursor can be helpful. Start with 50 mg taken about 30 minutes before bedtime.
GSE (grapefruit seed extract): Use the extract in a very weak dilution with pharmaceutical grade glycerin, non-iodized salt, and warm water. Just two drops in a half-cup of warm water with the glycerin and salt makes a wonderful nasal rinse that quickly knocks out sinus infections.
For chronic sinus conditions, a prophylactic nasal rinse each morning can help keep the sinus passages clear.
Gymnema Sylvestre is the choice of many when a sweet bender invites. (‘Tis the season.) Use a liquid tincture of the herb for a few days. It works because the mouth “goes numb” and completely neutralizes the taste of sweets.
Glutamine, the amino acid, is said to have the same effect. Put the contents of a 500 mg capsule on the tongue and let dissolve.
Neutralizing Cordial: Made by the Eclectic Institute, no household should be without this classic and delicious combination of cinnamon, peppermint, and other soothing herbs. It is good for relieving nausea, gassiness, colic, stomach cramping, and any other stomach discomfort. A few drops in a little water helps soothe a colicky baby. It’s good for motion sickness, too. Take just before traveling for best results, then use as frequently as needed.
Activated Charcoal: Keep this inexpensive substance available for major gastro-intestinal distress, particularly gas and including food poisoning. We are never without activated charcoal. We have a dog who can clear a room. Adding a cap in the morning and two at night has made being with her a much more enjoyable experience – for everybody.
We also keep the potent Dr. Ohirra 12 Probiotics for food-related stomach upset. We wouldn’t dream of traveling without this product.
For powerful nausea relief, go directly to ginger. I love ginger and travel with candied ginger although ginger caps and tinctures are reputedly very effective. I
prefer ginger tea: fresh ginger (a T chopped or shredded) in a quart of water, boiled hard for half hour. Serve with milk and honey to taste.
Siri Says: For once I was unable to put a stop to a sore throat that then turned into a cold. While writing this newsletter I was reminded of elderberry syrup and bryonia. Taking my own advice, I am now on the mend! xoxo ~ Siri.
1 Please Note: If you are currently using prescription drugs, be aware that certain nutrients and herbs can counteract or enhance the effects of the medications. Talk with your doctor and/or do your own research to uncover any conflicts. This does not apply to homeopathic remedies.
2 If anxiety exists as an ongoing state, you might want to try a blend of calming amino acids to be taken on an empty stomach. It can also be used as a preventive. Formulated by Hyla
Cass, MD, this product features theanine, green tea, GABA, and taurine. (See www.cassmd.com.)
3 Going through menopause or perimenopause? Bladder problems may stem from thinning of the bladder wall because of decreasing estrogen levels. Yes? Try a natural plant estrogen source, such as black cohosh. And, read, Nutrition News, “Hot Flash”.
4 The company recently changed hands and has new packaging, some of which carries the name “T-Relief”. Also, if you want cream, buy the package that says “ointment”.
5 Ester-C® is the way to go. Buffering keeps it from causing diarrhea when taken in large amounts, as happens with plain ascorbic acid. Also research shows it stays in the body longer.
Complete Shopping List
You can bring the remedies you checked forward onto this convenient list. A natural first aid kit is also a natural as a gift for friends and family.
Antibacterial or fungicide
tea tree oil
grapefruit seed extract (GSE)
green or black tea
cranberry concentrate or formula
grapefruit seed extract
Bruises, Burns, Abrasions
arnica (granules, oil, cream, ointment, gel)
aloe vera gel
tea tree oil or cream
Cold & Canker Sores
Cold Sore Relief
Canker Sore Be Gone
Colds, Coughs, and Flu
homeopathic cold remedy
vitamin C crystals (buffered)
ground psyllium seed
stinging nettle caps
homeopathic allergy remedies
pantothenic acid (B5)
buffered vitamin C
herbal sleep formula capsules or herbal tea
grapefruit seed extract
Dr. Ohirra’s 12 Probiotics