Update Your Medicine Cabinet with Holistic Remedies
If you're like most people, your medicine cabinet is packed with bottles and tubes, many of which you haven't touched in months--or years. It might be time to look at your arsenal and consider what's working and what's not.
When you're coming down with a cold, does your regular remedy make you feel better? Is it free of unpleasant side effects and safe to mix with other medication?
If not, try incorporating natural medicines, which work a little differently by "stimulating the body's self-healing processes," says Dana Ullman, MPH, author of "Everybody's Guide to Homeopathic Medicines." "They work with the wisdom of the body and are generally safe."
When you use naturals in combination with or in place of standards, you may find gentler relief with fewer side effects. "Everyone is different; what works for one may not work for another," says Todd Patton, MD, of First Med Urgent Care Center in Mineola, New York.
"By trying things, you learn about yourself and how your body works." Ultimately, this can help correct imbalances before disease results.
The old standby: The go-to medicine, pseudoephedrine, effectively dries up mucus, but it may also cause drowsiness. The new natural remedy: Next time you're feeling clogged, try Nazanol. A gentle decongestant in tablet form, this ultra-concentrated Chinese herbal formula, which contains Chinese skullcap root, supports healthy sinus function by regulating the flow of mucus without cranking you up or knocking you out.
A 2007 study suggests that Chinese skullcap contains compounds called flavonoids that act directly on airway mucin-secreting cells, increasing or inhibiting mucus release as required. Try it with a few squirts of Simply Saline, Sinusin, or Sinusalia -- sodium chloride and homeopathic sprays that flush out nasal passages.
Australian researchers concluded in 2010 that nasal saline irrigation is safe, although it may also lead to irritation. Nazanol can be hard to find, but it's available at Metagenics.com.
Muscle and Joint Pain
The old standby: Popular oral NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Advil or Bayer, relieve discomfort by systemically blocking the effects of certain enzymes.
The new natural remedy: Next time you have muscle or joint pain after a taxing workout, you might consider arnica-based skin creams, which work at the specific site of pain. Homeopathies include Arnica montana, a recognized anti-inflammatory for the shock and trauma of injury, which diminishes pain and swelling.
Look for brands like Topricin and Traumeel. Three randomized double-blind trials conducted by the Institute of Social Medicine showed homeopathic arnica to be beneficial for patients who've had knee surgery.
Swiss researchers reported in 2007 that arnica-based preparations worked as well as ibuprofen at easing osteoarthritis of the hands. Massage in gently for greater effect.
From Whole Living, January/February 2011