Stocking a medicine cabient

Normally I don’t believe in making “sorry to have gone quiet” posts, but I truly did intend to put up something last week. That is, until I got hit with a major allergic reaction on Monday evening. While I have dealt with allergy issues all my life, I had reactions I’d never experienced before. Thus my energies were focused on being able to breathe properly and getting better. I still don’t know what caused the reaction, and to be honest I’m not fretting over it too much.

How I prefer to convalesce when ill. Photo from The Commons.

My usual method for recovering from any sort of illness now tends along the lines of “alternative” medicine. Having spent my youth taking a wide range of antibiotics for sinus and throat infections, antihistamines for allergies (and having them lose their effectiveness from overuse), inhalers for asthma, and STILL having those problems plague me even with the drugs, I now prefer to treat the symptoms as much as possible. Plus my health has improved enough that I don’t really need those drugs anymore. I refuse to take antibiotics because I feel they are over-prescribed, leading to the various drug-resistant bugs now making the rounds around the country. My asthma bothers me so little, it’s not worth it for me to keep an inhaler anymore. It would be close to dead before I’d need to use it. The allergies have been mending slowly as my immune system becomes stronger, though sometimes I need help on that front.

Sometimes I still get sick, or react badly to something. I try to keep remedies around the house which treat the symptoms I am most likely to deal with. Since the household currently holds just two adults who tend to be in decent health, there’s not a huge collection. I thought it would be worth sharing, to give ideas of ways to help treat illnesses at home. As always, this is not a substitute for formal medical training. I’ve found these primarily through personal research and my own trial and error.

Alternative remedies
I start with these since it’s my first line of defense.
Activated charcoal–This should be a constant in any and every home. It binds with toxic substances and keeps the body from absorbing them. Used in hospitals and drug treatment centers for people who have overdosed. It can also be used effectively against food poisoning and lesser digestive issues.
Bromelain–made from the core of pineapples, a very effective anti-inflammatory. Strangely enough, I know I need it if I am feeling ill, thinking about it, and it’s the LAST thing I want to take. This is very effective when my knee or sinuses swell up.
Elderberry syrup–Something I’ve been taking this past week. A remedy with a long history, it has strong anti-viral properties. I know a few people who make their own. If only I had an elderberry bush in my neighborhood.
Neti–I’ve done a whole post on why I am a fan of the neti pot and have used it for over a decade. If you have sinus issues with any regularity and do not use one, I suggest you stop reading right now and GET ONE. You can also replicate the method with a paper cup. Don’t be squeamish either. The minor discomfort you may have from rinsing your nose will be trivial compared to how much quicker you will recover from sinus trouble.
Melatonin–A vitamin B6 supplement I use periodically during the year to aid with my sleep. It’s especially helpful for me in the winter, when I want to sleep more.
Oscillococcinum–A homeopathic flu remedy I came across some years ago. I’m not too familiar with homeopathy but very curious to learn more. In this case, I take it when I feel like I may be coming down with the flu. Usually I can either cut it off before it takes hold, or my days with symptoms are not many.
Incidentally, if you have any suggestions for learning homeopathy or might even be willing to give me some instruction, I will gladly accept it!
Burt’s Bees Res-Q Oinment–whenever I get a cut or a burn, this salve goes on there. I’d love to learn how to make my own someday.
Tea tree oil–Perfect for drying out acne or surface fungal infections.

I keep enough around that it merits its own section.
Chamomile–to help me relax and sleep
Calming–especially helpful when I feel stressed about school. This is a specific blend including kava kava. Despite my generally laid back demeanor, I don’t do the “relaxation” thing well.
Rose Hips–good source of vitamin C
Peppermint–good for digestion, and I recently learned that in China it was traditional for men to drink hot peppermint tea in the summer to help them cool off.
Moon cycle–There’s one day each month when I feel very thankful for this tea.
Mullein–I just discovered this herb in the past week. An expectorant.
Echinacea–for immune system support.

Allopathic remedies
When all else fails…
Mucinex–Another expectorant. It really does help, but I have to be coughing a LOT before I even remember its existence
Anti-histamines–About two times a year now (if that), I feel like I really need these.
Ibuprofin–Yes, sometimes I do hurt that much.

What are you medicine chest necessities?

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I’m sharing this post over at Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday, Fresh Bites Friday, Monday Mania, and Traditional Tuesday.

16 responses to “Stocking a medicine cabient

  1. This was an interesting read. I’ve personally had success with several of the items you mention, especially the oscillococcinum. One small detail, though. You call melatonin a vitamin B6 supplement. I’m not sure what you meant there, but melatonin is a hormone, not a vitamin. B6’s other name is pyridoxine or pyridoxal phosphate depending on its form.

  2. michele reneau

    Apple cider vinegar is mine. It cures just about anything. I mix 2 tbs of ACV with 1 tbs of raw honey in hot/warm water and drink. It has healed me with congestion, sinus issues, and more. I’ve held a cotton ball of ACV to a new bruise and it disappears.

  3. how about oil of oregano? I’ve used drops of it in glasses of water to ward off the flu, and diluted with olive oil to cure an ear infection (dropped right into the ear).

    • Nikki, I have heard mention recently of oil of oregano for various ailments but have yet to give it a try myself. How expensive is it usually?

  4. Similar to the Burt’s Bees Res-Q, is the Herbal Healing Salve from I keep a tin in my purse, because it’s good on *everything.* I like it better than the Burt’s Bees.

    (I didn’t use it on my tattoo because I was told to use nothing scented, and I’m not certain if lavender EO counts or not, but otherwise every scrape, burn, cut, random owie, or scratch from one of the cats gets slathered in this stuff.)

    • Jeni, that sounds awesome! I’m surprised you haven’t made your own batch though.

      • Sheer laziness, mostly. 🙂
        I’ve made similar preparations in the past, but I suck at documenting them, so I never know quite what I did.

        Besides, why reinvent the wheel? Someone else got it right, and it’s unlikely that I’ll improve on it.

        When I get the essential oil distillation equipment I’ve been coveting, though, my attitude will probably change. Heh. (It was going to be this birthday, but a new computer was a higher priority after the existing one started misbehaving.)

        M at work uses oregano oil – makes the room smell great, if nothing else, but it must work because she keeps using it. 🙂

  5. Mullein is my #1 go to remedy for any coughing/lung issues, along with CLO. I have seen it clear cases of pneumonia when several rounds of antibiotics did not work. It is also a great ally for those with asthmatic conditions. Any time my daughter has a lingering cough she gets mullein…it is quite gentle and actually tastes OK, especially with some yummy, soothing honey! It works best as an infusion though, rather than a tea, as the leaves need time to release their minerals and other beneficial compounds.

    • Karen, that’s interesting information about making it as an infusion. I have a “bad habit” of letting my teas steep for a long time, so I think they wind up as infusions because of it. Not that I am complaining. I’m tall enough and muscular enough that for some things I do need them a little stronger.

  6. Great info, thanks for sharing. There are so many wonderful God given cures. I recently blogged on some of my favorites on my 5/15 post. I use many of your suggestions as well as several herbs. Natural healing has fascinated me for many years. Thanks for sharing!

  7. What a great alternative medicine list. I have most of these with the exception of the Melatonin and Bromelain. I might just get the bromelain though. Didn’t know about that one for anti-inflammatory.

  8. Pingback: What has been and what may come: most popular posts of 2011 | I Believe In Butter

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