Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The "Crunchy" Medicine Cabinet

 I am not any kind of medical expert. I'm just a mom and wife on a journey trying to help my family live a natural and healthy lifestyle. Along the way I've been blessed to meet those who are experts in specific areas and they've shared lots of advice and resources with me. I'm simply sharing tools that our family uses to help stay healthy. PLEASE do you own research and contact your own health/wellness provider if you are wondering if these things are right for your family or not. 


Natural birth was kind of my gateway drug into living a more "natural" lifestyle. Cloth diapers, amber necklaces, local, organic foods, homemade breads...and then a few nights ago I found myself researching non-toxic mattress options. It gave me pause and realized how far I've come in the past few years.

While I've never been the kind of girl to run to the doctor for every little ailment, fever or illness, I was a big fan of ibuprofen and tylenol. Especially during "that time of the month". I never was one to question antibiotics or other meds and I spent five years on and off hormonal birth control. I figured doctors knew best and wouldn't prescribe something dangerous.

Yeah, you all know where THAT goes.

After researching different meds, especially hormonal birth control, I was pretty horrified at the outcomes. So, I opted to switch to looking for natural and holistic remedies for various ailments.

Switching from a more "mainstream" way of living to trying to live a healthier lifestyle can be really scary. For me, the biggest and hardest changes have been food and medicine. Yet over the past three years I've gotten to learn more and more about more natural options.

Before we go on, I want to RESTATE what I said in my disclaimer. I am not a doctor, homeopath, naturopath, chiropractor, midwife, etc. I have no medical training and outside of personal experience and research, I have no formal education in this subject. The items presented below need to be used with common sense. Do your OWN research, talk to your OWN health care/wellness provider.

Using natural remedies sometimes gets a bad wrap. I think people either assume they don't "work", or that those using them having done their research. There are some herbs that have JUST as powerful side effects as pharmaceuticals. This is why researching is really important.

The list compiled here are basic options for a "natural" medicine cabinet. In our experience they've worked amazingly well and are pretty much safe for most situations. This is also just what is in *our* medicine cabinet. Depending on what things your family needs, your medicine cabinet might be a bit different.

Also, don't forget food items around your home. Plain yogurt can help fight off a yeast infection, coconut water can help fight dehydration, raw potatoes help with headaches. Food is some of the most powerful medicine we have, if used wisely. (But that's an entirely different blog!)

My hope is that this can help you began building a "medicine cabinet" or "first aid kit" that you feel comfortable using with your family. Beside each item is listed a few uses, definitely not an exhaustive list. We'd be here all day, and night if I listed all the uses for each item below.

I'd also suggest buying your products from reputable sources/companies, which may mean paying a bit more. Not all products are equal, so definitely do your research about the companies you buy from and support.

Tea Tree Oil (TTO) - antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, antiviral. Used topically to help with mosquito/ant/bug bites as well as preventing infection, helps to treat yeast/diaper rashes/athletes foot/ringworm, can be used in the washer to keep clothes smelling fresh. My favorite way to use it is 5-7 drops in a 2oz spray bottle mixed with filtered water. I keep it in my purse so I can spray it on whatever is needed. We use it instead of antibacterial sprays as well.

Lavender Oil - Lavender is known to be calming and comforting. But it also has a wide range of other uses, as it is also an antiseptic. It is also good for minor burns, joint and muscle pain and will provide relief from insect bites and stings. We commonly used lavender with our son as a young child. I often sprayed his bedding and/or pajamas with it prior to bedtime. I also hung dried lavender from a local farmer over his bed. His room smelled amazing and it did help quite a bit with night time drama.

Probiotics - These promote digestive and immune system health. We all take two doses a day. My son takes the powdered Udo's Formula mixed into water, while my husband and I take a pill form.  This is one of those things where buying a high quality brand makes a difference! Name-brand yogurts advertise they have probiotics, and they do, but often times the sugar in the yogurt can do more harm than good. A high quality probiotic is going to have multiple strains of various live microorganisms.

Arnica - Arnica (in my opinion) looks like a daisy. But it's a miracle daisy. Arnica gel is your best replacement for ibuprofen when it comes to bruising and minor sprains. We keep the gel on hand for bumps, falls, bruises and running into things because we are a family with zero grace. My children aren't going to win Olympic medals for balance and/or the ability to walk a straight line without falling down. Needless to say, this stuff stays with us all the time. Most recently I used it after stubbing my toe. Within a few hours the swelling was down and bruising was barely visible. Huge change from before with bad bruise and inability to move the toe.

Nux Vomica - This is another homeopathic. I don't know if the name is suppose to remind one of this (I'm guessing yes) but I remember its use by equating the words to mean "No vomiting". Nux vomica has other uses (it is often used in treating colds), but we primarily keep it on hand for stomach bugs and pregnancy nausea. It's also helpful with indigestion and gas.

Thieves Oil - The story behind this unique oil blend is almost as interesting as the benefits of the oil itself. There are several different versions of the story but they all basically are the same idea -- thieves during the black plague would cover themselves in various herbs (rosemary, cloves, etc) while robbing the homes of plague victims....and they wouldn't get sick. I'm not sure if the name is copyrighted by Young Living, but it's the only brand we've used for Thieves. We mostly use it during the fall and winter as an antibacterial -- I spray it on shopping carts, hands before eating, public restrooms....etc. It can be used internally as well for fighting off colds, strep, and various other bacterial issues. Several friends have used it successfully for treating Hand, Foot and Mouth, but we've not had that wonderful virus so I've not tried it out for that!

Vitamin C - We use Emergen-C to help strength the immune system. During cold season, it's not odd to see our family go through 1-2 boxes a week, especially if one of us has a cold. One great thing about Vitamin C is it is EASY to tell when you've had too much, you'll get diarrhea or mild stomach cramps, back off and your body will revert back to normal.

Elderberry Syrup (Sambucus) - This is a major immune booster, and it tastes pretty fabulous. We keep several bottles on hand for cold and flu season. It can be taken daily to help boost the immune system, or it can be taken intensely (multiple times a day) to help on fight off a cold. We've had great success using it to battle the flu. It can also help relieve some allergy symptoms.

Oscillococcinum - This is a homeopathic used to fight flu-like symptoms, but I have also used it for a bad cold. For me, it was a bit of an energy boost and it definitely helped with the body aches. We've used it maybe 1-2 times but I like to keep it on hand because it has helped me feel better.

Garlic - Garlic is pretty much the most amazing remedy on the planet, if you ask me. From yeast infections to bacterial infections to colds to high blood pressure, garlic is your go to. It's nature's best antibiotic, and incredibly efficient. It's also versatile. We've made a garlic poultice to treat skin infections and I've used it as a suppository to treat yeast infections. You can swallow a clove whole (or mince it, put it on some bread with butter) and it will help fight off colds, flues and battle heart disease. Some studies even suggests it lowers cholesterol.

Chlorophyll - I was not introduced to the benefits of chlorophyll until I became pregnant. My midwife suggested I use to it treat constipation early in pregnancy. It worked. Now I'm using it to help with iron levels. It gives me a huge energy burst. Chlorophyll is marketed as an "internal deodorant". Basically, you take it internally so you don't need things like deodorants topically. I take it twice a day and I no longer need deodorant. It also freshens breath and helps battle heartburn.

Peppermint Oil - This is another essential oil that helps with a lot of issues during pregnancy. Rubbing a bit in your bellybutton can majorly help with nausea. It also helps with headaches and congestion. Peppermint oil also has cosmetic benefits -- I love to use it in the shower on my scalp. It has a cooling effect and smells amazing!

Eucalyptus Oil - Ever used Vicks Vapor Rub? Eucalyptus does the same. We used it with olive oil rubbed into a chest to help with colds. It also helps if rubbed on the bottom of feet. A few drops in a bath is great for colds and congestion as well. It also mixes well with coconut oil to make a homemade "vapor rub".

Activated Charcoal - It acts similarly to Pepto-Bismol, it helps with stomach issues, gas, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting. We've only used it a handful of times but I keep it on hand because when that stuff starts, you don't want to be running out to the store to find something to help! It can also be used to stop poisoning...thankfully we've not had to use it for that!

Coconut Oil - Basically, you can use coconut oil for everything. It is an antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial....the lists of things it fights off is huge. We have used it for treating topical issues such as diaper rashes, bug bites, minor scratches, cuts, scrapes, dry skin and I frequently mix it with essential oils to use in place of lotion. It can be used internally to help with constipation and some have had success using it to help with heartburn/indigestion. It's a great moisturizer for skin and really great for shaving as well. Coconut oil has many, many, many uses, these are just some we have used. We also use it frequently in cooking.

D-Mannose - This is a simple sugar that is a miracle worker for urinary tract infections. Thankfully those are few and far between around here but I keep this on hand. At the first sign of a UTI, I began taking D-Mannose. It's safe and incredibly effective in men and women.

If you have small children, you might also consider:

Teething Tablets - Several companies make a homeopathic teething remedy for infants and toddlers to help with teething. Our favorite brand is Hyland's, and we've had a lot of success with the tablets.

Cough-n-Cold Syrup - This is also another remedy from Hyland's. They have a daytime formula and nighttime, both have helped immensely with coughs and congestion when we've dealt with colds.

And finally, the most important item in relation to any medicine cabinet?

Common sense. 

I don't say that to be silly, I really do mean it. A lot of mild illnesses and colds and coughs can be handled by our bodies. .

Use common sense to decide when home remedies work and when you need a doctor. Use common sense to look at your child or yourself and decide what you need as far as medical attention goes. Research and educate yourself so you can make INFORMED decisions for your family. 

Have you made a switch to a more "natural" medicine cabinet? What are your favorite remedies and how does your family use them?

Remedies recently used to help battle a nasty stomach bug and dehydration.

Interested in learning more about natural remedies, homeopathics, essential oils or herbs? Check out these links below to start your journey!

Essential Oils:

I would recommend you just start on the Young Living website and begin exploring. Give yourself time. The website is huge, lots of products to check out but they also have a good selection of books.


We keep the book "Practical Herbalism" by Philip Fritchey on our book shelf at home. It's simple and a really good guide for beginners.

I also have a book called "Mother's Guide to Herbal Extracts" which I got for free from Mountain Meadow Herbs. The book is a recount of how one mother used herbs to help heal her son's medical conditions. She gives a lot of information about ways to use herbs in children, as well as in women's health. The book isn't as in depth as "Practical Herbalism" but with it's price tag, it's not a bad idea to keep along side your others.

Online Herbal Encyclopedia - This website from Clover Leaf Farm Herbs is just an online reference for different herbs, their uses and it has warnings/cautions about each herb.


Better Homeopathics - I stumbled across this blog/website several months ago and as I learn more and more about homeopathic remedies, it has been pretty helpful. Homeopathics are the area I know the *least* about, so I'm still learning as much as I can.

I'm still on the search for a good book on homeopathy though, feel free to share suggestions!

Other resources:

Your Vital Child: A Natural Healing Guide for Caring Parents - Dr. Mark Stengler - several mommy friends have recommended this book to me and I've only skimmed through it at the library. It is definitely on my "to-buy" list though!

Prescription of Nutritional Healing  - A friend recommended this book to me after hearing I was gathering resources for this blog entry. I ordered it from Amazon but it hasn't arrived yet. It looks quite extensive though, definitely going to be helpful in addition to "Practical Herbalism"!


  1. I really enjoyed reading your post. I need to get some nux vomica and activated charcoal! I always like to have colloidal silver as a natural antibiotic handy too.

  2. This was an exciting post to read! We use Thieves too! I too, keep Colloidal sliver on hand along with Slippery Elm which does the same as the Activated charcoal.

  3. Loved the post!! I've been wanting to do this for a while....Now I have a place to start ;)

  4. This is an excellent resource adn I must share! We use homeopathy in our home as well :)

  5. Fyi, check the ingredients of contains aspartic acid, an ingredient in aspartame. Not good. Just stick to a chewable vit c or tablets.

    1. I didn't know that! Thanks, definitely something I'm looking into! Like i said, we are on a journey of learning what is and isn't good for us....always interested in hearing different information!