Natural Alternatives for Common Health Problems
Whilst some people dislike going to their doctor unless absolutely necessary, others make quite regular visits in the hope of shortening or instantly curing their every day ailments.
Many struggle on through because of commitments at home or at work, but the fact that there are alternative ways of dealing with less serious complaints tends to elude the majority. Of course advice can be sought for free on the telephone by asking a pharmacist, but most of us don’t realize that relief can also be found by using natural alternatives.
The common cold is a viral infection and with it we often get a sore throat, a cough and stuffed up nose. Millions buy nonprescription products such as Benylin to ease the symptoms but some of these kinds of products have side effects and most do not come cheaply.
Remember, viruses do not respond to antibiotics so the market for cold, flu and cough relievers is wide open and very competitive. The same can be said for pain. We all get pain at some time or another, particularly headaches and sales for over- the- counter painkillers is growing year after year. We hear stories about painkiller abuse and addiction to painkillers but it is not surprising when these drugs are easier and easier to obtain.
These are just two of the common ailments among so many that affect everyone at some time or another and not worth bothering a doctor for (unless the symptoms worsen and become chronic). We now have flu vaccines of course for those more at risk but for those who are normally in good health, even the flu can be addressed naturally. It is well worth looking at what you can try that is natural, cheap, easy to obtain and less likely to have side effects or be addictive.
Colds and Influenza
Cold and the flu spread easily and are difficult to avoid but you can try to boost your immune system by taking the following:
Raw garlic has great therapeutic properties and 1-3 garlic gloves can be eaten a day when fighting a cold or flu. If this doesn’t sound very palatable, you can buy garlic capsules from most stores. It can help fight infections and has antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Great for boosting the immune system, many people take Echinacea to prevent colds in the first place when they know they have been in contact with a cold or flu virus. It is not wise to take on a permanent basis because you may lessen its effectiveness so if you do you should take breaks for a few days every so often. This herb has antibacterial and antiviral properties and is one of the most popular over the counter herbs for cold and flu.
Treating Flu Naturally
The sore throats commonly accompanying colds and flu are viral and can be relieved by drinking honey and fresh lemon in warm water. Other relievers are:
- Marshmallow root tea
- Marjoram tea
- Chamomile tea
- Plain salt in lukewarm water can be gargled several times a day
Note: If a sore throat persists or worsens it may be wise to check with your doctor in case you have a bacterial infection which may require antibiotics.
Headaches and Migraines
We possibly take more painkillers for headaches than for any other pain and yet most common headaches are only of short duration and relieve themselves quite quickly. Chronic or severe headaches and migraines tend to be rather more difficult to cope with but there are some natural ways to help alleviate them such as:
- Feverfew tea
- Peppermint tea
- Chamomile Tea
Because lots of headaches are brought about by tension, magnesium and calcium supplements are a good idea but these can also be found in foods such as:
Foods Rich in Magnesium and Calcium
Whole wheat bread
Migraines can be triggered by eating foods such as chocolate, cheese, caffeine and red wine and we can get preventative medication from our doctor but when a migraine strikes you can try feverfew tea to help reduce the severity of an attack. The leaves of the plant are generally used and these can be bought in tablet form. Again magnesium and calcium supplements may help also.
Indigestion and Acid Problems
I can personally vouch for the fact that if you suffer with severe indigestion, heartburn and acid problems, a bottle of Pepto- Bismal, Gaviscon or over the counter indigestion pills does not always bring total relief and it is not a good idea to overuse them. Proton pump inhibitors used to treat acid reflux, are not always effective, can have nasty side effects and no one seems to be quite sure of the long term effects which is rather worrying. The following natural alternatives that can bring relief are:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Ginger tea (warm flat ginger ale is helpful also)
- Aloe Vera juice
- Peppermint tea
- Fennel tea
- Licorice DGL tablets or capsules
There is nothing worse than becoming constipated as it can make you feel sluggish, become bloated and produce pain. Doctors have been advocating senna for the relief of constipation for many years but you can also try the following:
- Apples (and apple cider vinegar)
- Elderflower tea
- Licorice tea
- Dandelion tea
Of course a diet that does not contain enough fibre can cause constipation so it makes sense to make sure your diet contains enough with foods such as:
Fibre Rich Foods
Corn on the cob
Whole wheat pasta
Doctors are seeing more and more patients for anxiety symptoms. Prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications carry on increasing and many have side effects. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax and valium should always be taken as a short term solution but many develop a tolerance if taken for too long and the withdrawal symptoms can be truly awful when weaning off them. Some natural alternative alleviators of mild to moderate anxiety are:
- St John’s Wort (not to be taken with anti-depressants)
- Chamomile tea
- Passion Flower tea (or as capsules and tablets)
- Lemon Balm tea
- Valerian Root
- B-Complex Vitamins
What foods help with anxiety?
Natural remedies offer us a safer alternative option to conventional medicines when treating common more trivial illnesses, but it is always best to check with your doctor when embarking on taking a natural alternative. Some medical conditions may be aggravated by taking natural products just the same as some conventional medicines may make these conditions worse. Some conventional medicines may not work well alongside natural remedies and you should be sure that you are not taking too much of an alternative treatment. Dosages and general advice can also be sought by a herbalist or a health food adviser.
General and Safety Information for Alternative Medicine
- What Is Complementary and Alternative Medicine? | NCCAM
An overview of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) including types of CAM, safety and regulation, and additional resources. From the U.S. government’s NCCAM, NIH.
- Over-the-counter painkillers 'can cause addiction within three days' - Telegraph
Over-the-counter painkillers taken by millions can cause addiction in just three days, the Government’s drug watchdog has said.
Warning about Painkillers
- Warning Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction, Dependency and Abuse: Foundation for a Drug Free World
Watch the video and read the Truth about Painkillers booklet and learn about the warning signs of painkiller addiction, which include increased usage due to tolerance development, personality change, social withdrawal and changes in appearance and ha