Have you looked inside your medicine cabinet lately? Chances are, it contains synthetic, toxic, addictive, expensive and dangerous medicines and pharmaceuticals designed to keep you hooked and dependent.
If you’re seeking out safer, cheaper, more effective healthcare, look no further. These 8 medicine cabinet swaps can safely minimize symptoms, address root causes, and even eliminate expensive drugs and doctor visits.
Dangers of NSAIDs
Many people choose to ignore the side effects when it comes to popping a pain-killer or other over-the-counter medication.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are some of the most popular pain relievers used in the world today. For example, ibuprofen, or brand names like Aleve, Motrin and Advil are all considered NSAIDs.
And while NSAIDs may temporarily block the pain receptors in your brain from telling your body something is going on, they also do much worse. They are well-known for their link to stomach bleeding (1), but now the FDA has made their NSAID warning even stronger. That is, they want consumers to know that NSAIDs can cause an increased risk of heart attack and stroke – especially when the dose is high (2).
NSAID use is also linked to higher risk of renal failure (3), as they encourage the body to hold on to sodium, which can lead to different degrees of reduction in kidney function.
They can also cause serious allergic reactions in some individuals like wheezing, rashes and throat swelling.
Other side effects of NSAID use includes (4):
– Headaches and dizziness
– High blood pressure
– Leg swelling
– Liver problems
– Reduced appetite
– Ringing in the ears
– Stomach pain
8 Medicine Cabinet Swaps
There are so many natural remedies (especially essential oils) that can be used in replacement of what would be found in a conventional medicine cabinet.
Here are some of my favorite swaps I often use to replace pharmaceutical drugs and other over-the-counter medications.
1. Inflammatory-Related Pain
Use This: Copaiba and Turmeric
In Replacement of This: Pain-killer medications
Copaiba is an oil-resin native to Brazil. It contains the compound BCP, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that also has analgesic, or pain killing, properties (5). Copaiba works on the opioid and endocannabinoid systems within our body, helping increase natural endorphins and reducing inflammation.
Turmeric on the other hand is another well-known anti-inflammatory that helps ease joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness. It is particularly useful for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In fact, turmeric works so well against inflammation that it has even been found to be just as effective at treating arthritis as ibuprofen (6).
Using Copaiba: The best way to use copaiba is in essential oil form. You can apply directly to the source of pain.
Using Turmeric: You can take turmeric internally, either by grating the fresh root on salads, or juicing the root directly. You can also put turmeric powder into your smoothies and other dishes. Alternatively, you can dilute turmeric essential oil in a carrier oil like jojoba oil and add a few drops of this directly to the source of pain.
Use This: Thyme and Oregano
In Replacement of This: Cough medicine like Robitussin
Thyme is known for its ability to fight and treat upper respiratory infections, bronchitis and whooping cough. The flavonoids in thyme help relax the tracheal and ileal muscles (7), which therefore suppresses the urge to cough.
Oregano oil on the other hand helps kill harmful microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. By killing off the infections that make coughing worse, oregano oil makes the perfect remedy to have on hand at the start of any coughing fit.
Using Thyme: To ease coughing, you can add 2 teaspoons fresh or dried thyme to 1 cup of warm water. Let steep for 10 minutes, and then drink. Alternatively, you can diffuse thyme essential oil in the air so that when you breathe it in, it helps ease the urge to cough.
Using Oregano: Oil of oregano can be taken internally to suppress coughing. Alternatively, you can make oregano tea to strengthen the immune system and clear up coughing symptoms at a faster rate.
3. Congestion From Colds
Use This: Eucalyptus and Rosemary
In Replacement of This: Decongestants like Sudafed
One of my least favorite parts of a cold is when congestion strikes. But instead of taking sudafed (or the awful nose spray I used to be addicted to in my younger years), I turn to natural remedies like eucalyptus and rosemary.
In fact, most of the companies that create decongestant medicine use eucalyptus in their formulas (the only problem is that they also add like 600 other ingredients we don’t need). Researchers in a 2009 study found that the main component of eucalyptus, 1,8-cineole, is an effective and safe treatment for sinusitis that doesn’t include antibiotics (8). 1,8-cineole works by clearing the air of bacteria and other microbes – it also helps clear airways of mucus and is a natural cough suppressant.
Rosemary is another great remedy for congestion. It has incredible antiseptic properties, making it useful when respiratory infections colonize our lungs. Rosemary is also a great anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-fungal, and is excellent for strengthening the immune system and cleansing the lymphatic system.
Using Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus essential oil can be diluted in a carrier oil like almond or jojoba oil, and rubbed on the chest to help combat congestion issues. It works even better if you can diffuse it in an essential oil diffuser so that you can breathe in the beneficial properties.
Using Rosemary: Similar to eucalyptus, you can dilute rosemary essential oil in a carrier oil and rub it on your chest. You can also diffuse 5-10 drops in a diffuser and run it for an hour a couple times a day in whatever room you’re in.
Use This: Apple Cider Vinegar and Stinging Nettle
In Replacement of This: Antihistamines like Benadryl
While allergies are largely triggered by a poor diet, there are other things you can do to help ease them from becoming too over-bearing. The first is apple cider vinegar (ACV) – an age-old remedy that is often recommended for allergy relief. The theory is that it helps reduce mucous production and cleanses the lymphatic system, making it useful for allergies.
Stinging nettle is another great remedy that can be used to ease the symptoms of hay fever (allergic rhinitis) (9). Research has actually shown that stinging nettle leaf naturally controls histamines, which is why so many doctors are now recommending taking nettle before hay fever season begins.
Using Apple Cider Vinegar: If you’re suffering from allergies, take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (raw, unpasteurized) in 1 cup of water 2-3 times a day. You’ll notice a dramatic difference! If you can’t take apple cider vinegar straight, dilute it in juice, or make a salad dressing out of it!
Using Stinging Nettle: I personally like taking nettle as a tincture, but you can make nettle tea, or nettle infusions to help battle spring and summer allergies.
5. Digestive Problems
Use This: Ginger and Peppermint
In Replacement of This: Prilosec, Pepcid, Pepto-Bismol, Tums, Rolaids, etc.
Ginger and peppermint are two wonderful digestive aids. Ginger is a great natural alternative to antacids, and has gastroprotective effects, meaning that it prevents acid from regurgitating back into the esophagus. Ginger has the ability to relax the intestines during an irritable bowel syndrome flare-up (10) and can also help relieve bloating, constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders.
Peppermint is also good for those with irritable bowel syndrome. The compounds found in peppermint actually activate the anti-pain channel in the colon. This channel, called TRPM8, may reduce the pain linked to eating spicy foods like chili or mustard. Multiple studies have confirmed peppermint useful for combatting IBS (11). Peppermint is good for digestive upsets that start in the intestinal tract.
Using Ginger: Ginger can be used in powder form, or in root form. You can put ginger into smoothies, juices, salad dressings, baking and so much more. When it comes to juicing, I will juice up to 3-4 inches of fresh ginger root at a time.
Using Peppermint: My favorite way to consume peppermint is in tea form. Any time I am dealing with anything digestion-related, I make some peppermint tea, and my issues will resolve themselves within an hour.
6. Bug Bites, Itchy Rashes and Other Skin Problems
Use This: Lavender and Peppermint
In Replacement of This: Cortisone, antihistamine cream, etc.
Lavender essential oil isn’t only soothing for bug bites, but it helps prevent them, too. Bugs hate the smell of lavender, and won’t go near it when put on fresh. When I worked up in Northern Manitoba, where the mosquito swarms were unbearable, I used lavender and the mosquitoes hated it. It also helped relieve the itch of any bites I received. Lavender also helps soothe itchy rashes, too, so it’s a great all-around remedy for anything skin related.
Peppermint also helps relieve the itch and pain from bug bites, rashes and other skin problems. Peppermint oil creates a cooling sensation on the skin, which helps with burning, stinging, and itching sensations caused by bites or stings. It also acts as an antimicrobial, meaning it reduces the risk of infection associated with some bites.
Using Lavender: Dilute lavender essential oil in a carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil, and apply to the affected area.
Using Peppermint: Dilute peppermint essential oil in a carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil, and apply to the affected area.
7. Cuts and Burns
Use This: Tea Tree and Lavender
In Replacement of This: Antibacterial ointment like Polysporin
Even the most powerful antibacterial ointments won’t kill the resilient MRSA infection caused by a type of staph bacteria. Herbs, however, are another story.
Tea tree oil exhibits powerful antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties, making it a beneficial oil to use in wound care (12). It is also particularly soothing, and can heal cuts, wounds and skin infections faster than standard antibiotic creams.
Lavender is also beneficial for cuts and scrapes, but what it is most known for is its ability to heal burn wounds. It has pain-relieving properties, the ability to reduce inflammation, and possesses strong antimicrobial activity. A 2012 study showed that lavender essential oil helped speed wound recovery (13), and it also reduced inflammation in women who underwent surgery for childbirth.
Using Tea Tree: If you have a cut or scrape, clean the area with water and a clean towel. Clear out any dirt in the cut or scrape with hydrogen peroxide. Once it is dry and clean, add 2-3 drops tea tree oil and cover with a bandage. Repeat this every day until the scrape or cut is healed.
Using Lavender: Similar to tea tree oil, clean the burn/wound area until it is dry and free of any debris. Add 3-4 drops lavender oil to the affected area, and wrap with a bandage. Repeat this every day until the scrape or cut is healed.
Use This: Basil and Peppermint
In Replacement of This: Headache drugs like Tylenol
Who knew that the herb most popular in Italian cuisine could help with headaches? Basil essential oil was actually named one of the best traditional medicinal plants for alleviating headaches, according to a 2014 review (14). Basil oil also helps fight stress, and alleviates tension and anxiety – all conditions that can trigger deadly headaches in just about anyone.
Peppermint is another great remedy for alleviating headaches. It can help improve circulation and relax tense muscles that are often triggers for headaches. Studies have even confirmed peppermint oil as a cost-effective natural headache remedy (15).
Using Basil: You can diffuse basil in an essential oil diffuser, or massage 2-3 drops into the bottom of your feet, or over your adrenals when you feel a headache triggered by stress coming on.
Using Peppermint: Peppermint essential oil can be diffused, or put onto the temples or your forehead to help alleviate some pain. You can also drink peppermint tea, which I have personally found useful to get rid of headaches in under 20 minutes.
As some medications may adversely interact with these essential oils and other remedies, always consult with a physician with concerns about drug interactions. I also do not recommend taking essential oils internally, unless they are food-grade and created specifically for that purpose (always contact the manufacturer before consuming essential oils).
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