Whether you’re suffering from a headache or fighting off a cold, odds are the first place you turn for help is your medicine cabinet. But are over-the-counter medications always the safest option?
Dr. Beverly Yates, a naturopathic physician, recently sat down with Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com to share her tips on how to replace the conventional cures in your medicine cabinet with natural remedies this cold and flu season.
Colds and coughs:
Yates said that one of the problems with over-the-counter (OTC) medications for things like colds and coughs is that once you stop taking them, you can get rebound symptoms that may become worse. But using natural remedies like Similasan Cold & Flu Mucus Relief can help activate the immune system to fight off illness.
“Those chemicals … suppress, they drive the symptoms deeper,” said Yates. “You're stimulating your body to heal, so your natural processes and your immune system do their jobs more effectively, without forcing it to kind of hide.”
Many OTC cold products are also not recommended for children younger than 4 years old. But using something like Similasan Kids Cold & Mucus Relief can help to temporarily relieve symptoms of the common cold such as sneezing, runny nose, head and chest congestion. Zinc lozenges can also help bolster the immune system, but Yates noted that they can cause some nausea if taken on an empty stomach.
Studies have shown that ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that can help relieve motion sickness, dizziness, nausea and gas, and soothe the intestinal tract.
“One of the best and most effective choices you can take are products that contain ginger, or to actually eat some ginger root,” said Yates. “Even if someone's on something as powerful as chemotherapy, or if they're just a little under the weather; maybe they have a tummy bug, they're nauseated perhaps because they're a little nervous … ginger is very effective, and it's easy to take it as a supplement.”
Laxatives and anti-diarrheal medications carry the risk of various side effects, and Yates said they should only be used under a doctor’s care.
“If you're constipated, you can use products that contain Sunfiber,” said Yates. “It's water soluble, has no unpleasant taste or anything, and it dissolves clear, so it's very easy to use -- unlike some fiber products that can be problematic … it won't aggravate, let's say things like ulcerative colitis or Crohn's.”
Yates said that probiotics like Kyo-Dophilus can also be used to help with some stomach ailments. It contains beneficial bacteria that support intestinal health, immune function and digestion.
“You want probiotics that are room-temperature stable and that are easy to chew and swallow, particularly if you're giving them to kids,” said Yates.
Inflammation in the inner ear can be very painful, and young children may not always know how to communicate what is bothering them.
Natural decongestants like Similasan Cough & Fever Relief or Cold & Sinus Relief contain homeopathic ingredients that can help heal ailments in the nose and throat area that may be contributing to inflammation or pain in the ear canals. Additionally, the company makes ear relief drops that can help relieve acute ear pain.