9 Ways to Stock Your Natural Medicine Cabinet
Starting fresh in the New Year is a theme we can apply to many areas of our lives: starting an exercise routine, cleaning out our closets, improving our diet, setting new personal goals, and so on, but we wanted to take things in a different direction this year by encouraging you to clean out your medicine cabinet. So many of us have become reliant on whatever the drug store offers, but with more and more focus on reducing toxic chemicals it’s important to be aware of natural options out there that are effective.
Here are a few items worth switching for a more natural medicine cabinet:
We encourage our patients to go as green as possible with their beauty products and your toothpaste is no exception. Some conventional brands include an ingredient called triclosan that has been shown to be an endocrine disruptor – meaning it messes with your hormones. While triclosan is effective at killing disease-causing bacteria in your mouth, studies show concern that long-term use increases risk of creating antimicrobial-resistant bacteria. We recommend switching to one without like Green Beaver’s Star Anise Toothpaste (plus, BONUS: it tastes great!).
To see how your toothpaste measures up, visit the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Guide.
2. Kick That Break Out Stick
We’ll be discussing facial skin care in more detail in a future article, but for now let’s consider the dreaded breakout. Tea tree oil has been around for years. It’s a natural antimicrobial herb, which means it is scientifically proven to kill off Propionibacterium acnes (the major bacteria behind acne). Essential oils can be damaging to the skin if used without a carrier oil. We recommend mixing it with a small amount of coconut oil or jojoba oil before dabbing it on problem spots. A good one to try is Now Essential Oils Tea Tree Oil.
When going green with your deodorant you don’t want to sacrifice performance. However, it’s important to avoid aluminum, propylene glycol, and parabens found in conventional anti-perspirants. We have found a few brands that we love that include ingredients such as lichen and essential oils (specifically lavender and tea tree oil), which combat odour-causing bacteria. You may need to try a few brands before you find the perfect one, but stick with the hunt because its well worth it to know you aren’t absorbing toxins. P.S. Sweating is a super important mechanism for regulating body temperature and removing toxins so we definitely don’t want to stop that process. Two of our faves are Earth Science’s Liken Natural Deodorant and their Tea Tree Lavender Deodorant (both smell clean and fresh and don’t irritate sensitive skin).
4. Sleeping Pills
Before you reach for that sleeping pill, note that the root cause of many sleep disturbances is stress and its harmful side effects. Botanicals and essential oils are two natural tools we often use to help our patients achieve restful sleep. Botanicals like lemon balm, valerian, passion flower and chamomile help to calm the nervous system.You can also use single essential oils for sleep induction, like lavender, or you can create your own personalized blend by combining scents you love. We love the combination of lavender, vanilla and a hint of citrus to help calm the mind and body before bed. Ahhhhh! We can help you determine exactly what the root issue of your sleep disturbance is and whether more advanced treatment options like melatonin supplementation or cortisol testing are right for you.
To use Lavender Oil as a sleep aid, rub 2-3 drops of oil in your hands, and inhale slowly to calm your mind. Then, rub another drop of oil on your palms and smooth on your pillow to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
5. Bumps & Bruises
Arnica is nothing new, but it sure is effective. It can be used both in its botanical and homeopathic forms for recovering from blunt trauma (aka. bumps and bruises). Just don’t use it on open wounds.
Calendula officinalis (aka. marigold) is a wonderful topical agent to use for calming down itchy, irritated skin. You can find it in ointment form, or you can make your own infusion with dried flowers.
7. Burns, Blisters, Cuts & Scrapes
Minor burns & blisters will happen, but what’s the best option? Aside from washing out the wound with cold water to remove debris, one of the best treatments out there is Medi-Honey – a medical-grade honey used in hospitals to help patients recover and prevent infection. Medi-Honey can be used on cuts and scrapes, too, but topical application of comfrey cream also speeds wound healing. Try these options instead of topical antibiotics.
Head aching? Ditch the pain meds, which can often lead to gastrointestinal bleeding. Instead, choose a natural relaxant like magnesium glycinate.
9. Cold Sores
Lysine is our number one go-to for a pesky cold sore. A high dose of lysine taken at the first prodrome (that tingling sensation) will usually be enough to return the virus to dormancy. But if a sore does occur, you can apply lysine ointment topically. Mushrooms, like Reishi, can also be beneficial for cold sore treatment. Employing these natural and effective options will keep you from taking over-the-counter and prescription anti-virals too often. Another tip is to avoid arginine containing foods such as red wine, peanuts, red meat and chocolate while you are experiencing a breakout.
Dr. Maryska Taylor and Dr. Rachel Corradetti are naturopathic doctors practicing out of Toronto. They offer concierge naturopathic medical services to their patients throughout the GTA via home and Skype visits.