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Baby Steps Toward a More Natural Medicine Cabinet


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I’m sick today. I caught a cold from who-knows-where and I feel like I’ve been walking around in a fog all day. I’ve been meaning to write a post for a while now about our slowly changing medicine cabinet and today is just the day to do it. (Nothing like a tangible reminder to get you motivated!)

I tend to be fairly skeptical about natural medicine. I’m just not sure if it works. However, the further I go down this “crunchy rabbit hole,” the more its starting to make sense to me that God would give us different things to heal our bodies. The more I reject processed food and common beauty products, the more it makes sense to at least question what I keep in my medicine cabinet and give to my family. I still have a LONG way to go in this area, but I’m trying to slowly learn more. I will also say that the lack of health insurance over the past year has also really increased my motivation to try natural remedies. Feeling like I don’t have that “safety net” underneath me has made it even more important to me to learn about natural ways of helping my body (and my family’s’ cute bodies!) to heal.

What I Keep in My Medicine Cabinet

  • Vitamin D – Studies keep coming out showing that vitamin D is really important for fighting off colds and infections. During the winter, all of us take a vitamin D supplement. I don’t worry about it in the summer unless one of us is sick.
  • Vitamin C – Also effective for keeping colds at bay and staying healthy.
  • Elderberry Syrup – Elderberry syrup has antiviral properties and is super healthy for you. I make my own from dried elderberries and local raw honey and then keep it in the fridge to store it. Here’s a recipe and video tutorial if you are interested in making some.
  • Raw Honey – A gentlemen right down the street from me keep bee hives and I buy my honey from him. Studies have shown honey being just as effective as cough medicine for cough suppression.
  • Healthy food such as homemade chicken stock and yogurt – Both of these are super healthy with lots of vitamins, minerals, and healthy bacteria.
  • Probiotics – If I even suspect a tummy bug is going around, I start giving everyone extra probiotics (in addition to our normal habit of frequent yogurt eating). I haven’t jumped on the GAPS diet bandwagon yet, but I think it makes sense to supplement your gut with healthy bacteria if you are fighting some kind of tummy related illness.
  • Activated charcoal – This is also good for tummy troubles. Its used in emergency rooms to bind to ingested poisons and prevent their absorption. (Obviously I’m not a doctor, so this isn’t medical advice. I’m just telling you about it.) I’ve used this for tummy troubles as well. A charcoal supplement is good for upset stomach, colic, nausea, vomiting, acid indigestion, gas and more.
  • Coconut oil – I love coconut oil. It has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, so I’ll often use this instead of triple antibiotic ointment on cuts and scrapes. Its also really healthy for you, so this is the main oil I use for cooking. Its replaced vegetable oil in our household.
  • Tea tree oil – This has antiseptic and antifungal properties. In addition to adding it to my vinegar I clean with, I’ll often add a bit to coconut oil to apply topically for scrapes and cuts.
  • Graham Gardens Healthy Skin Salve – This is also a replacement for triple antibiotic ointment. It isn’t petroleum based and it smells nice. My  kids ask for the “green stuff” when they get hurt. Its nice that they can apply it themselves too since it isn’t messy. I like that.
  • CJ’s BUTTer – Great for diaper rash. Both of my kiddos are out of diapers now, but I still have some left and its great for skin irritations.
  • Trilight Health – I’ve used their Hear No Evil within the past month. Both of my kiddos were complaining about their ear hurting during a particularly bad cold. I put drops in their ears over the course of a day or two and neither one off them developed an ear infection. In fact, after the first round of drops, they never complained about ear pain again. Be warned, though—it smells strongly of garlic! I didn’t mind it, but it was a little humorous to have them walking around smelling like they were trying to ward off a vampire. I also like that they were comforted by actually putting something in their ear—like putting a band-aid on a scrape. I also bought Lympha Rub and Scout Out, but I haven’t tried either one yet. Katie at Kitchen Stewardship tried the Lympha Rub though and really liked it, so that’s good enough for me. I’ll try it next time someone in the house has those symptoms. Smile
  • Olba’s oil – I found this in the UK, but this is the same company in the US. It is a blend of essential oils that is great for helping with congestion. I’ll often add a few drops to the humidifier that gets pulled out when someone is sick.

Other not so natural items

  • Acetaminophen – a.k.a. Tylenol – I try not to use this as a first resort, but I do pull it out if I feel like its warranted.
  • Pseudoephedrine – a.k.a. Sudafed – Again, I try not to use this as a first resort, but when that sinus pressure is building up, this can really help. Anyone know of a natural remedy to help with sinus pressure?
  • Vick’s Vaporub – This is so effective for relieving coughs and helping to relieve congestion. However, its petroleum based, which I don’t like. I think my next “baby step” is going to be to try to make my own.
  • Dramamine – Yep. I’ve got a kid who gets car sick if she’s in the car too long. I haven’t tried a natural remedy because cleaning up vomit in the car is no fun if the natural remedy doesn’t work. We only have to have my daughter use it for long car trips, so it doesn’t get used very often.

That’s what I have on hand for this winter. Like I said, I am very new to this and have barely scraped the surface of learning about natural remedies. I’d love to hear about any resources you’ve found to learn more about this stuff. I’d also love to hear about any effective natural remedies you use. I asked about it on my Facebook page a while ago and got all kinds of great answers!

Disclaimer (again): I’m not a doctor! This is not medical advice! Do your research, speak to a medical professional, and made your own decisions!  Also, the link to the coconut oil is an Amazon Affiliate link. If you purchase through that link, I get a small kick back. (And by small, I mean small. I’ve yet to make one cent from this blog, although I did get a free magazine subscription once, but not from Amazon.) Thanks for supporting Kinda Crunchy Kate! (I wasn’t saying that sarcastically, either! I promise!)

I’m linking up to Green Your Resource this week! Check it out for all kinds of green and frugal goodness!

  1. 10/19/2011 4:07 pm

    Wow- as always, worth the wait and sooo thorough!!

  2. 10/19/2011 4:31 pm

    Hi Kate

    I just went to an “All about herbs” meeting that one of our homeschool mom gave. Very interesting. She is really into it and even makes poultices and tinctures!! She still has small kids so this has helped them alot.
    I want to try some of the stuff in teas first and maybe buy some other stuff like echanacia (sp) from our local store. We are not sick alot but Amy has tummy problems so the charcoal sounds interesting.
    Hears to our health!!

  3. 10/19/2011 7:59 pm

    There’s also something here in NZ called Manuka Honey that has antibiotic and hydrogen peroxide-like properties. Very popular here, though you have to get one with a high UMF rating (unique manuka factor) of around 10 – 15+ for it to be really effective. Not sure if you can find it in the States, but it’s useful for lots of different fungal skin conditions, burns, etc. Some people also use it for acid reflux and treatment. Pretty amazing.

    • Kate permalink*
      10/20/2011 9:20 am

      I’ve heard of Maunka Honey being used effectively against MRSA as well. It is pretty amazing stuff. I wonder what makes it so special, though, as far as honey goes. Have you ever read why the Maunka honey in particular is so effective?

  4. 10/20/2011 8:00 am

    In response to Jenny’s comment – I haven’t tried it myself, but my local Whole Foods sells Manuka honey, so I know it’s available here in the US.

    As far as sinuses go – the best thing I’ve found is hands down a Netti Pot. I have had chronic sinus issues my entire life and have had years where I took one antibiotic after another. My sinus issues got to where an infection would immediately turn to bronchitis. Then I found out about sinus flushing with Netti Pots. It has made a world of difference for me and my family. It also works remarkably well as preventive maintenance. Because germs harbor in the sinus cavity for a couple of days before they activate (for lack of a better term at the moment), we always flush our sinuses after coming in contact with someone we know is sick or even when we’ve been in a crowd of people when we know illness is making it’s rounds. I’m no doctor and I’m sure I don’t have all of the technicalities precisely on the money, but I do know that since we’ve started doing this, it’s rare that we get sick or sinus infections.

    One more thing… As far as your daughter’s motion sickness goes, I know that ginger is good for nausea and I believe that I’ve heard that includes motion sickness. It might be something for you to look into.

    I’ve enjoyed your post. Have a great day!

    • Kate permalink*
      10/20/2011 9:22 am

      I hadn’t even thought of a Neti Pot, but that makes sense! I even have one of the Sinus Rinse things in my cabinet and haven’t used it in ages. Thanks for the suggestion! Question: Do you make your own saline type solution to put in it or do you buy the little packets?

  5. Karie permalink
    10/20/2011 8:01 am

    My sister was just telling me about Oil of Oregano, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral! Apparently great to apply topically (with a carrier oil) to scrapes, and take internally for everything from congestion to a more serious infection! Think that is next on my list. Also sells an all natural ‘vicks rub’ type product. Always wanted to try that, if you make your own let us know how it works!

    • Kate permalink*
      10/20/2011 9:25 am

      I think I’m going to need to set aside some money in the budget for a few more essential oils. I’ll add this one to the list!

  6. 10/20/2011 8:21 am

    Rene from Budget Saving Mom had a reader advise her to get Papaya Enzyme. Apparently when the kiddos are throwing up, tuck a pill in their cheek and let it disolve slowly. Rene said her kiddos didn’t throw up again! So this year, I’m adding that to my medicine cabinet too!

    Great post!

    • Kate permalink*
      10/20/2011 9:24 am

      I’m going to look into that. Thanks for the suggestion, Andrea!

  7. 10/20/2011 12:07 pm

    Ditch the Vicks! It’s so easy to make your own, or something that works just as well. For my kids (and myself) I use about a tablespoon of carrier oil (we use almond) three or four drops of Eucalyptus and two to three drops of peppermint. Mix it together and rub it on. The vapors are cooling and clearing just like Vicks but without the unpronounceable ingredients. You can also make and acutal oinment with beeswax but the oils work so well, I’ve never seen the need to get out a pot!

    Found you on the Green Resource link up :)

    • Kate permalink*
      10/20/2011 2:24 pm

      Hi Stephanie! Thanks for stopping by and for the encouragement! I think they Eucalyptus oil is probably key to the recipe, so I’ll try to pick some up next time I order from somewhere. I’m also glad you mentioned the oils working well. I was going to try to make a salve with beeswax and coconut oil to mimic the Vicks, but if the oils work just as well, I’d rather do that since that’s easier. Thanks for the advice!

  8. Tara permalink
    10/20/2011 1:56 pm

    Where do you buy activated charcoal? Also, I think I want to get some of that ear stuff to have on hand, and wondered if there are any specific products you’d recommend also ordering from trilight?

  9. 10/20/2011 2:40 pm

    Kate! You are missing one of the best cold fighters out there….GINGER! I used to always take zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold b/c they worked well for me. But then, as you know, the corn allergy was discovered. Someone told me about making ginger tea – peel and cut ginger into tiny pieces. You can either make a larger pot on the stove, or just do one cup at a time. I like the one cup at a time, so I cut up maybe an 1/8 of a cup of ginger and get it good and hot in the microwave. Cover with a saucer and leave to steep for 1/2 hour or so. Reheat and steep again. Basically, leave the ginger in depending on the strength you want. Let me tell you, if you leave it too long you’ll have to water it down! I can’t handle the potent ginger flavor so I love to mix honey in mine. If you gave it to your kids, I’d definitely make it sweet :) Best sore throat remedy around! You can make this and leave in the fridge bottled for roughly a week.

    Or, if you want something quicker or don’t have fresh ginger, I’ve also discovered you can use crystallized ginger. It’s easy to keep on hand and popping 2-3 ginger bites a couple times a day, esp. when first feeling sick is also effective. (Just watch out for the looser bowels…just sayin’!) I used to love the Trader Joes version (sans citric acid and ascorbic acid), but they quit carrying it at mine. Just found some organic in Kroger with the dried fruits for about $3.99 a bag. A little pricey, but it lasts a long time and for me, it is totally worth it! I’ve found the Kroger ones to be stronger tasting (and not quite as good) as the TJ’s version so it does differ. One last tip, again, sometimes it is hard to choke down dried ginger this way b/c it’s potent so I like to eat something else bread-like with it. In Scotland I would often put this on my granola for an extra daily boost of ginger properties. I hope you guys can find a way to work it into your diets too….then report on here what you find :)

  10. 10/21/2011 7:13 pm

    Hey Kate!
    I am SO proud of you for doing your homework and researching what is out there, in terms of all natural products! I hope you find you health nitch. I sure found mine, and it is so nice to use all natural products that have healing properties and they work!!! NO more over the counter meds, baby- :)
    In fact, since I started using essential oils in Jan, as soon as I heard about Young Living, I cannot find it in me to take an over the counter product anymore. You will find what is best and how I know I have the best, is when my boys say, hey mom I need an oil for my bug bite… hey mom, I need an oil for my headache… hey mom, I need an oil cause my muscles are sore! Bless you in your health adventure! You are doing the right thing by going natural.
    Also, since you are going all natural with your products, watch your diet… avoid white sugar, white flour, sodas, dairy, etc…. smile… I know it is HARD!!! You will see the health benefits and will be so thankful for the sacrifices.
    Blessings to you!!! :)

  11. Marquita Hemsath permalink
    11/19/2012 1:12 am

    Sore throat is always a problem specially during rainy seasons, you can always build strong defense against it if you take lots of vitamin-c. ..

    My personal blog site


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