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Natural Alternatives for Common Health Problems

Updated on January 13, 2016

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.

Coping with the common cold
Coping with the common cold | Source

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.

Garlic is a great alternative for treating colds
Garlic is a great alternative for treating colds | Source

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:

Garlic

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.

Echinacea

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
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish

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.

Try feverfew tea for migraines
Try feverfew tea for migraines | Source

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
  • Catnip

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

Magnesium
Calcium
Nuts
Cheese
Cooked spinach
Yoghurt
Raw broccoli
Kale
Whole wheat bread
Brussel sprouts
Black beans
Cabbage
White beans
Salmon
Bananas
Mackerel
Chick peas
Sesame seeds
Tuna fish
Almonds
Lentils
Soy beans

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.

Ginger is a powerful aid to relieve digestive problems
Ginger is a powerful aid to relieve digestive problems | Source

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

Dandelion tea is good for relieving constipation
Dandelion tea is good for relieving constipation | Source

Constipation

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
  • Flaxseeds

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

Kidney beans
Baked beans
Broccoli
Brussel Sprouts
Carrots
Green Peas
Grapes
Figs
Corn on the cob
Raisins
Prunes
Whole grains
Spinach
Kale
Whole wheat pasta
Brown rice
Chamomile tea helps to relieve anxiety
Chamomile tea helps to relieve anxiety | Source

Anxiety

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?

Important Information

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.

Comments

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    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Thanks catgypsy. Me too!

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 

      6 years ago from the South

      Wonderful information. I try to use natural remedies as much as possible and find them to be just as effective, if not more so.

    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Thanks Lady_E. I have had side effects so many times from conventional drugs, I have turned over to natural products much more now.

    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Thanks Robert. It's also amazing how many of the natural stuffs I mentioned cross over and are good for a multitude of symptoms.

    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Thanks MarleneB. I find chamomile tea helps me de-stress at the end of a day.

    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Thanks so much for our comment.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 

      6 years ago from London, UK

      Very useful - healthier options. A lot of the medicine/tablets people take, actually do more harm than good - sometimes with side effects.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Robert Erich profile image

      Robert Erich 

      6 years ago from California

      Great article and I like how so many of these problems can be alleviated with tea. It looks like to me, if you have a solid collection of teas you should be set for nearly any disaster!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      6 years ago from USA

      Wonderful coverage of natural alternatives to treat common ailments. I am an avid believer in natural treatments. I grow herbs for tea and find it to be a real lifesaver. I struggle with stress, anxiety, and insomnia - so I grow lemon balm and whenever I start to feel a little anxious or when insomnia starts to kick in, I go out and pick some lemon balm, brew up a pot of tea to drink, and then by bedtime, I'm feeling better with no side effects.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Excellent and well written. I have alternative measures to stay healthy. It goes on my bookmark list...Voted UP

    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Thanks for the comment and the added advice. Haven't come across that juice but if it worked for you it can work for others so thanks for that.

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 

      6 years ago

      Nice hub! Very informative and well-formatted. Anyway, here's another natural laxative to add to your list: tamarind juice. I used to get constipated a lot when I was a kid, and my mom would fix me a glass of tamarind juice. It always worked!

    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Many thanks for your comment. It's great that you were aided to stop smoking in a natural way. Well done!

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 

      6 years ago from San Antonio, FL

      Well put together hub with lots of good information in it. I tried Saint Johns Wort when I quit smoking years ago, and it really helped me. I didn't need it for long, but I think it got me through the first three weeks.

    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Thanks spartacusjones. I know several people at the moment addicted to painkillers. All were deemed necessary via prescription but they are certainly paying the price now! It's all too easy on both sides - for doctors to prescribe and for patients to obtain. Internet purchasing of drugs isn't helping in my opinion.

    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Absolutely agree healthylife2. We have been misinformed over the years to believe we should take a pill for almost anything - remember drugs =money and it is a business after all!

    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Thanks for your comment urmilashukla23. That sounds like a good balance to me!

    • meloncauli profile imageAUTHOR

      meloncauli 

      6 years ago from UK

      Thanks watergeek. You sound like you have it sussed! I use herbal teas quite a lot and make lots of smoothies to make sure I get a nutritional boost every day. Having acid reflux is annoying for me but I don't use prescription meds for that either and control it with diet and the alternatives I mentioned. Thanks again.

    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 

      6 years ago from Parts Unknown

      This was an informative and balanced article. As you highlighted there may be times when it would be necessary, but I also think it can be possible to become to reliant on drugs as well.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Great hub..so many medical issues can be addressed by nutrition.

    • urmilashukla23 profile image

      Urmila 

      6 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

      I am the one who always visit to the doctor`s office but also seek natural and alternative treatment too. This hub is very informative and educational. Thanks for sharing it. Voted up and shared!

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 

      6 years ago from Pasadena CA

      Very nice meloncauli. I'd like to say I have used many of these remedies, but the truth is I don't get sick very often. I've used a few. My favorite for colds is honey and sage tea. My favorite for insomnia is one of the nighttime relaxation teas you can buy at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods, writing in my journal, and meditating if I still need it. (The main thing is to ease whatever worries came up during the day, so I can stretch and feel good, while preparing to sleep.) I eat raw garlic quite a bit in salad and sometimes granola. And I often sprout grains to make sure I have plenty of enzymes for digesting food. Thanks for writing this. Voted up and useful.

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