For those who don’t want to be constantly reaching for a pill and spending a fortune on prescriptions, or who are worried about the chemicals, side effects, and long term health problems. While most households contain a medicine cabinet stocked with ibuprofen and paracetamol, there are alternative natural remedies that you can use to prevent and treat a wide range of ailments.
Herbs, vitamins, minerals, and essential oils offer a wide variety of benefits for many ailments. You just need to know where to look. We’ve pulled together everything you need to know about building your own natural medicine cabinet.
Your natural medicine should include the following:
- Pain killers
- Digestive aids
- Cough syrup
- Vapor rub
- Antibacterial ointment
- Muscle rub
- Cold medicine
- Allergy and antihistamines
- Sleep aid
- Lower cholesterol
- Reduce blood pressure
How to Stock a Natural Medicine Cabinet
When you’re starting to stock your natural medicine cabinet, begin by breaking medicine down into categories. This is also a great way to organize your natural medicine as well. Whether it’s flu season or not, natural medicine can help your family to stay healthy.
The area of natural medicine can be a little overwhelming, to begin with. But, with a little research and more understanding, it can help put you at ease when it comes to natural remedies. Start off slowly and think about addressing minor concerns, to begin with, like a sore throat or mild cold. Over time, you can gradually build up your natural medicine cabinet.
White Willow Bark – Willow bark contains the same ingredient as aspirin in a naturally forming compound that fights pain, blocks inflammation, and reduces fever.
Capsaicin – The ingredient that gives chili peppers their heat, capsaicin can reduce pain caused by arthritis when rubbed as a cream into joints. Taken internally it may help ease chronic aches and pains as well.
Omega-3s – The healthy fats in nuts, seeds, and avocado are known to boost heart health, but they also block inflammation and help lubricate joints. They are also important in keeping the brain and nervous system operating at peak performance.
MSM (methyl-sulphonyl-methane) – MSM is a naturally occurring sulfur compound with painkilling, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic properties.
Essential Oils – For headaches, try peppermint or lavender rubbed into temples.Essential oils can be very potent so you may want to dilute them in a carrier oil like olive or coconut beforehand.
Others to consider: feverfew, kudzu, ginger, arnica, vitamin C, vitamin E, glucosamine, Boswellia, devil’s claw, turmeric (curcumin), and magnesium.
Papaya – This fruit is full of enzymes that help break down proteins, aiding indigestion. It can be found as a fruit, juice, or chewable tablet.
Pineapple – Another fruit with protein busting enzymes. Eat fresh pineapple after a meal to help digest and prevent heartburn, acid reflux, or any other digestive problems.
Baking Soda – Has the same ingredients as many antacids. Add ½ teaspoon to ½ glass (4 fl. oz.) of water. Too much baking soda can have a laxative effect.
Apple Cider Vinegar – The weaker acid of the vinegar dilutes stomach acid to ease the burn, but not too much to limit digestion. Dilute a couple of tablespoons 50/50 with water.
Ginger – A natural treatment for nausea, ginger reduces stomach acid, fights inflammation, and aids in moving food through digestion. Ginger is available as a whole root, spice, and in capsules.
Slippery Elm – Slippery elm coats the throat, esophagus, and stomach in a slippery mucilage that soothes and calms digestion.
Enzymes - Plant-based enzymes specifically selected to help your body absorb and digest all your macros and maximize nutrition with a full spectrum of 25 enzymes and trace minerals.
Others to consider include aloe vera, licorice, cat’s claw, meadowsweet, dandelion, and chamomile.
Bromelain - This powerful enzyme found in pineapple can help suppress coughs as well as loosen the mucus in your throat.
Elderberry Syrup - Elderberries contain natural substances called flavonoids. They help reduce swelling, fight inflammation, and boost the immune system. Elderberry relaxes bronchial spasms, making them very useful for treating coughs upper respiratory infections.
Honey – This sweetener can be mixed with lemon or herbal tea to sweetly soothe coughing. Add other ingredients for even more cough and cold-fighting power.
Others to consider: mullein, cayenne, rosemary, wild cherry bark, and garlic can be added to the syrup or tea above as additional expectorants, mucus thinners, or immune boosters.
Natural Vapor Rub
Essential Oils – Mix several drops of peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, thyme, and/or rosemary with olive oil or coconut oil and rub on chest and throat to clear sinuses and open airways. These also help the body eliminate infections more rapidly.
Ionic Silver – Silver has antimicrobial properties and can easily be used topically as ionic or colloidal silver to help prevent infection.
Garlic – This little root usually gets used as a spice, but it has some potent antibiotic and antimicrobial properties too. It can be mashed into a paste, mixed with clean water, and applied with a sterile gauze to offer resistance to infection and help the healing process.
Coconut Oil – Coconut oil is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral. It works against infections, especially the troublesome fungal infections like athlete’s foot, ringworm, and candida. Add a few drops of tea tree oil to make it even more effective.
Others to consider: Epsom salt, lavender oil, calendula, and myrrh.
Arnica – This flower, related to the sunflower, can be found in oils and creams to speed healing and recovery from sprains, strains, and bruises.
Cayenne – The capsaicin in cayenne heats and dulls pain, but use it in moderation.
Essential Oils – Many essential oils can be blended to provide warming and cooling relief for sore muscles, including arnica. These can be used directly or with creams or oils. Try lemon, ginger, peppermint, clove, or wintergreen.
Related: Essential Oils: The Simple Solution
Echinacea – This herb seems to help people recover from illness faster and is often used to help prevent and alleviate the common cold.
Goldenseal – Goldenseal acts as an expectorant, soothes mucus membranes, and has strong antibacterial and ant-ifungal properties. It helps with sinus infections and chest congestion.
Zinc – Zinc has antioxidant properties and is necessary for the body to resist infection. It may help prevent colds and help shorten the length of a cold.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C is the go-to vitamin for colds and the flu. It’s an antioxidant the body needs to be strong and healthy that people automatically reach for when sick for good reason.
Elderberry – These sweet-smelling berries help prevent and limit the severity of colds and the flu.
Others to consider include licorice, garlic, oregano, and ionic silver.
Probiotics – Probiotics reduce nasal inflammation and promote healthy mucus membrane function.
Nasal Wash – (Neti Pots) Nasal irrigation clears the sinuses of excess mucus, debris, allergens, and toxins. These gentle saline washes also encourage membranes to produce thinner mucus.
Cayenne – This spicy food clears nasal congestion and improves mucus flow immediately.
Alliums – Garlic, leeks, shallots, and onions contain sulfur compounds that break up mucus and fight inflammation.
Others to consider include oregano, ginger, horseradish, mandarin oranges, and steam inhalation with essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary.
Allergy and Antihistamines
Stinging Nettle – The leaves of this plant block histamine and the release of enzymes that lead to those runny noses and itchy eyes.
Horseradish – Increases blood circulation and widens the sinus cavities to relieve many allergy symptoms.
Wild Cherry Bark – This bark works as an expectorant, thins mucus, and soothes the throat.
Mullein – The mucilage in mullein soothes mucus membranes, the throat, and the esophagus while reducing inflammation.
Others to consider include eyebright, nasal washes, steam inhalation of essential oils, and homeopathic options.
Chia Seeds – These tiny seeds are packed with fiber, both soluble and insoluble. These two types of fiber sweep the digestive system clean, help things move along and feed the beneficial bacteria in our guts that improve digestion, keep gas to a minimum, and help defend against invaders.
Psyllium – Another high fiber seed that cleans and refreshes the digestive system.
Slippery Elm – The mucilage of slippery elm eases movement through the intestines.
Others to consider include marshmallow, cascara sagrada, aloe vera, and senna.
Essential Oils – Add a couple of drops of peppermint, clove, or cinnamon to salt and baking soda mixture.
Coconut Oil – Coconut oil loosens plaque and kills many bacteria. You can oil pull with it by swishing it through your teeth and around your mouth or make toothpaste with baking soda and peppermint oil.
Easiest toothpaste - Add coconut oil and baking soda until it forms a paste and then add a few drops of your favorite essential oil.
Exercise – Nothing beats true exhaustion to make sleep easier. Exercise not only increases strength and endurance, but it releases endorphins and diminishes stress, making rest easier.
Sunlight – The sun has been given a bad reputation lately with all the anticancer talk, but it is an essential part of our vitamin D production and how we regulate our circadian rhythms. Get about 20 minutes of good sunlight each day and open the blinds a little more while you work or roam the house.
Relaxation Techniques – Yoga, meditation, deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation minimize stress and anxiety to let sleep come more naturally.
Chamomile – Chamomile tea has a calming effect and has been used as a sleep aid for mild insomnia throughout history.
Valerian – This root helps sleep come quicker and longer. Valerian is actually packaged as an over-the-counter sleep aid in many European countries, but isn’t addictive and doesn’t cause grogginess.
Magnesium – Magnesium has some sedative properties. Deficiencies of magnesium can also cause pain, discomfort, cramps, and muscle spasms that keep people awake.
Others to consider are basil and passionflower.
Diet and Exercise – These two together make a huge difference in heart health and cholesterol levels. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables which are naturally cholesterol-free and focus on more cardiovascular exercises like running, brisk walking, swimming, jump rope, jumping jacks.
Soluble Fiber – Soluble fiber blocks the absorption of cholesterol from food. Legumes and whole grains offer plenty of soluble fiber. Also, some fruits, like apples and berries, and some vegetables, like broccoli and carrots, provide large amounts of soluble fiber.
Omega-3s – Walnuts, almonds, seeds, and avocados are rich in omega-3s and antioxidants that keep blood vessels strong, lower bad cholesterol, and raise good cholesterol.
Garlic – Garlic has powerful antioxidants that keep cholesterol from sticking to arterial walls where it can cause inflammation, clots, and plenty of problems.
Turmeric – This spice found in curry lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides and keeps cholesterol from being oxidized and sticking where it shouldn’t.
Others to consider: Coenzyme Q10, vitamin B3 (niacin), hawthorn, grape seed, and cayenne.
Reduce Blood Pressure
Diet and Exercise – Same as with cholesterol, controlling blood pressure comes from eating healthier and getting that heart pumping with aerobic exercise. Eat low sodium whenever possible too.
Relaxation – Deep breathing, meditation, yoga, and relaxation techniques in the morning and evening can help reduce blood pressure throughout the day as your stress and anxiety are neutralized.
Hawthorn – Hawthorn improves blood flow, widens and softens arteries, and combats chest pain. It is beneficial for low and high blood pressure and in controlling high cholesterol too.
Coenzyme Q10 – This powerful antioxidant is found in every cell in the body, It’s essential in turning food into energy and keeps hearts healthy in many ways, including stabilizing blood pressure.
Potassium – This mineral helps normalize blood pressure. Potassium is easily found in many fruits and vegetables like melons, bananas, leafy greens, citrus, and legumes.
There’s a lot of information to take in when it comes to natural healing remedies and prevention. By starting off slow and gradually stocking up your natural medicine cabinet, you can find out what works for you. Following a healthy diet and exercising regularly can do wonders for your immune system naturally. Give yourself the best chance of staying healthy while being prepared to tackle anything that arises with your natural medicine cabinet.
- 6 Ways to Minimize Your Cold or Flu Risk Naturally
- 14 Foods for Natural Pain Relief
- 14 Foods for Healthy Lungs and Improved Breathing
- Boost Your Immune System with Mushroom Superfoods
- Top 7 Plant-Based Sources Of Omega-3: Vegan DHA, ALA & EPA
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 4, 2013 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.