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, there are other options. Herbs, vitamins, minerals, and essential oils offer a wide variety of benefits for many ailments. You just need to know where to look.
Willow Bark – Willow bark contains the same ingredient as aspirin in a natural 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-sulphonyx-methane) – MSM is a natural occurring sulfur compound with painkilling, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic properties.
Essential Oils – For headaches, try peppermint or lavender rubbed into temples. Peppermint is very potent so you may want to dilute it 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.
Digestive Aids/Acid Reflux
Papaya – This fruit is full of enzymes that help break down proteins, aiding in digestion. It can be found as a fruit, juice, or chewable tablet.
Baking Soda – Has the same ingredients as many antacids. Mix a little with water and drink it down.
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 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.
Others to consider: aloe vera, licorice, cat’s claw, meadowsweet, dandelion, and chamomile.
Honey – This sweetener can be mixed with lemon or herbal tea to sweetly sooth 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.
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 direct or with creams or oils. Try lemon, ginger, peppermint, clove, or wintergreen.
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 antifungal 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.
Elderberry – These sweet smelling berries help prevent and limit the severity of colds and the flu.
Others to consider: licorice, garlic, oregano, and ionic silver.
Probiotics – Probiotics reduce nasal inflammation and promote healthy mucus membrane function.
Nasal Wash – 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: oregano, ginger, horseradish, mandarin oranges, and steam inhalation with essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary.
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.
Others to consider: 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: marshmallow, cascara sagrada, aloe vera, and senna.
Essential Oils – Add a couple drops of peppermint, clove, or cinnamon to a 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 you mouth or make toothpaste with baking soda and peppermint 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.
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: basil and passion flower.
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.
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.
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, is 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.