Natural Medicine Cabinet Essentials
Let me first start off by saying that I am not a doctor or health care professional of any kind. I am a WAHM mom. I cannot say with any certainty whether any of these things are 100 percent safe or recommended, but I have done lots of research and asked a lot of questions of people in the know and, most importantly, I have seen first-hand that these things work. So, with that said, these are my must-haves for a natural medicine cabinet for my family, to help us get through flu season, minor bumps and bruises, tummy troubles and other common ailments that can strike a family at any time.
As always, consult a healthcare professional before deciding to take any form of medicine, whether natural or synthetic. Even natural remedies can have negative interactions with other things you may be taking, etc.
Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano packs a real punch, both in its potency and in the types of things it can help to alleviate. An immune booster, this herbal remedy can help to ward off viruses that cause sore throats, coughing, and congestion. Best when taken at the first sign of illness. For those who find the strong taste too overpowering, oil of oregano can also be taken in capsule form.
Most commonly taken in tea form, chamomile is very good for calming upset tummies and for helping both children and adults to relax, wind down, and prepare for bed. I drink a cup of chamomile tea nearly every evening and I find the ritual really helps me to unwind and turn off my brain.
Like chamomile, peppermint tea is very good for digestive upset. I tend not to use this myself, as I don't care for the taste of mint, but my 8yo loves minty things.
Peppermint oil can be rubbed on the skin (in a carrier oil such as olive oil) to relieve sore muscles and to alleviate headaches.
Whether it's because of seasonal allergies or a cold, when you find yourself stuffy, don't reach for a commercial decongestant first. Instead, head to the pharmacy and look for a spray that contains only saline spray, or one with saline plus aloe. These sprays come in a variety of "strengths," from a light mist to a more get-the-job-done spray. Saline is a natural decongestant that will wash out the sinuses and nasal cavity, thinning and clearing out mucus, allowing you to breathe easier.
While we're on the topic of stuffy heads, eucalyptus is a great natural decongestant, too. For adults and older children, a couple of drops can be added to a bowl of steaming water so that you can inhale the steam, but don't do this for younger children as there is a burn risk if they get too close to the steam. For them, add a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil to a warm bath, or mix some into petroleum jelly or unscented lotion and rub it on their chest, back and the soles of their feet. If you have a humidifier (and I strongly recommend you do) add a couple of drops to the water and allow it to diffuse while your children sleep. It will help open up their airways and relieve congestion.
Great for calming anxiety and inducing sleep.
Add these mineral salts to a warm bath to soothe sore muscles and draw out toxins.
Although not meant to be used as a long-term sleep solution, melatonin can be an effective way to reset your sleep clock when it has been upset from jet lag, shift work, or periodic bouts of insomnia. Melatonin is not a sleeping pill. It helps to trigger your brain to start "powering down" for sleep. Don't take it long term, as it can have negative side effects.
Honey can be mixed into warm water, added to herbal teas, or taken directly off of a spoon as a powerful remedy for sore throats. For best results, choose raw, unfiltered honey. Honey is also great for helping with seasonal allergies. For best results in this case, choose locally made honey, as it will help you build up an immunity against local allergens. Never give honey to children younger than 1 year, as it can pose serious risks.