If you were to come over to my home and complain of an ailment, or your child got an injury while visiting, you may be surprised to see me open up my “medicine cabinet” and proceed to pull out various natural remedies to treat what ails you.
I’m no expert, but I have a love for alternative, natural treatments and have been studying them casually for the past 7 years or so.
A friend was asking me what I would use for such-and-such a while back, and as I rattled off some suggestions and talked about the things that we keep in our home, she suggested that it might be helpful to other moms to know the types of things that I keep and use on a regular basis.
What’s in My Natural Medicine Cabinet?
Vitamins and Other Supplements
- Cod liver oil: Usually a supplement for us, but I “prescribe” extra during illness because Vitamin D is so good for the immune system.
- Vitamin C (with zinc and echinacea)
- Vitamin B : This has proven to be very important for my husband, and I take it occasionally when I’m really dragging and want to ensure that my B vitamins aren’t too low.
- Calcium/Magnesium tablets: These are great for headaches, for relaxation when having a hard time sleeping, and especially for muscle cramping. I’ve been taking mineral supplements and cal/mag specifically this pregnancy and it’s the first time I’ve never had a single leg cramp.
- Probiotics (such as acidophilus, though there are many strains to choose from): To boost immunity, good for tummy troubles.
- Oil of Oregano: My husband’s favorite. He can handle way more drops of this strong-tasting, concentrated herbal oil than I can. It really shores up the immune system and helps to fight off viruses quickly. We take it at the first sign of sickness.
- Mullein: This herb is very soothing for the throat and for coughs. I use it in boiling water to create a mullein steam. We put a towel over our heads and breathe in the steam for several minutes at a time to help with really stubborn coughs.
- Garlic: I’ve written an entire post about using garlic. It’s worth a read.
- Ginger: Same as garlic. See the post!
- Chamomile: I make this soothing tea for my children, if they have an upset tummy or are having a hard time calming down or going to sleep.
- Peppermint: This is also very soothing on an upset digestive system. Teas are wonderful to sip on.
- Astragalus: We only have this in capsule form, but my husband and I take it sometimes to boost our immune system when we’re fighting something.
There are many other herbs that I use, this is just a handful of them. See this post I wrote on herbs that I have and what I do with them for a more detailed discussion.
I have plenty of oils that I keep to use in cleaning supplies, homemade beauty and skin care, and anywhere that I want something that smells beautiful. I also have a handful that are most commonly used for medicinal purposes:
- Peppermint: I put a couple drops in water to help with indigestion. It can also be used straight on skin (with caution- it is a strong oil) as a muscle rub. A friend rubs it on her neck to help relieve her tension headaches and she swears by it.
- Eucalyptus: I make a very simple chest rub with this, for coughs and congestion. You could also use it to make more of an ointment-style herbal vapor rub.
- Tea Tree: For infections.
- Rosemary: My midwife turned me on to this for rubbing on my temples (a few drops in a carrier oil, like olive or almond oil) for headaches. It’s pregnancy and nursing safe.
- Lavender: Anti-bacterial and soothing as well. I often add a few drops to baths.
First Aid Kit
I have a natural first aid kid called a NaturoKit, which I LOVE and use all the time.
It contains 9 basic remedies, put together by two moms who are also naturopathic doctors. There are 5 homeopathic remedies (for different types of pain, bites, allergic reactions, etc.), 1 floral (Crisis Calm), activated charcoal (more on this below), a herbal healing salve, and Calendula Success tincture (for cleaning/treating wounds and preventing infection). It’s perfect for those who want to learn to use more natural remedies, but aren’t quite sure where to start.
I keep my kit in my medicine cabinet in my kitchen and pull it out at least once every week or two. I often refer to the helpful list of ailments and which remedy to use for what. When we go out, especially on something like a camping or hiking trip or when travelling, I try to remember to bring it with me.
- Flu nosodes: These are homeopathic drops created specifically to help prevent strains of the flu that are common. I first got them the year that swine flu was a big scare, and have since used them to help keep us from getting the flu each year.
- Hyland’s Kids Kit: With 7 different homeopathic remedies and a helpful book that tells you when to use what, these are great for those with babies and toddlers (I find they aren’t effective on my 7 year old anymore, who seems to need adult strength doses). I use these to treat fevers, runny noses and congestion, emotional agitation, coughs, sleeplessness and more.
- Bach’s Rescue Remedy: I like the spray and my husband prefers the lozenges. These are great for calming in stressful, tense, nervous or emotional situations.
- Hyland’s Teething Tablets: They don’t take away all the pain like Tylenol would, but in my experience with 3 babies, they take the edge off, for sure. I find the teething gel useless, and I didn’t like another brand that I tried called Humphrey’s. I’ve been using these particular tablets for 7 years and swear by them.
Learn more about homeopathics in my post Using Homeopathic Solutions for the Family.
- Activated Charcoal: For upset tummies, bad gas pains, etc.. For the kids, I break open a capsule and mix it up in a spoon of applesauce or honey. For my husband or I, we take two capsules with water. I also use this to make poultices for drawing out toxins, like in a skin infection or a bug bite.
- Bentonite Clay: We use it in detoxifying baths, and also use in poultice for infections and bites (it really helped a bad spider bite my husband got this winter). I give spoonfuls of a liquid suspension of clay (which I mix myself) for upset tummies, when those in need don’t want to take charcoal. The liquid form is also excellent for diarrhea and for stomach bugs while travelling (or to prevent getting the bugs in the first place).
- Melatonin Tablets: Not something that I suggest using on a regular basis, but I will take it occasionally if my sleep cycle has gotten out of whack due to travel, or if I’m struggling with insomnia even though I’m sick and tired and need the sleep. I will also sometimes give a half of a 3 mg tablet to my older children if they are sick and really in need of the extra sleep, but they’re fighting it. They usually fall asleep within 20-30 minutes of taking it and get the rest they need. We buy the sub-lingual ones, which dissolve under the tongue.
- Colloidal Silver: This tasteless clear liquid is very anti-bacterial and anti-viral, and super easy to give to children when they are fighting something to boost their immune system’s response.
- Herbal salve: I have the one in my NaturoKit, and another new one from Apple Valley Natural Soap that I am loving. I put this on any sort of wound, on chapped lips, on infected skin ,etc. to soothe and help it heal faster.
- Emergen-C: These powdered vitamin and mineral drink packages are great for dehydration, either in sickness or in high heat (like when we travelled to Arizona, we drank these to keep our electrolytes up in an unfamiliar hot and dry climate).
- Epsom salts: For relaxing baths while sick, especially if one of us has a fever. I also add extra to baths for detoxification purposes. When I had an awful 24-hour migraine earlier this pregnancy, my midwife recommended an epsom salt bath, as the extra magnesium would help to relieve the headache (and magnesium is helpful for headaches in general).
Where to Buy These Things
Last year I wrote a post during Natural Remedies and Illness Prevention Month about some of the resources that I recommend buying. It includes lists of things to that I use and buy (including a short list of 11 items for those just starting out), and some recommendations of where to buy things as well.
Helpful References to Have Around
Since I’m not a professional of any sort, I like to keep various kinds of reference books around to help me know how to use my natural remedies. Here are some of my favorites:
Handbook of Vintage Remedies– Very simple for those new to home remedies, and geared towards families. Probably not for those who want more advanced or detailed information.
The Complete Medicinal Herbal– Excellent herbal reference.
*I noticed that this book has become very rare and expensive on Amazon since I bought my used copy a couple years ago. Home Herbal is by the same author and quite similar, but much more affordable!*
Prescription for Nutritional Healing– Very detailed, focuses more on nutrients, supplements, and other types of alternative therapies or remedies.