Healthier Alternatives and Remedies to OTC Drugs

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We’ve all read the articles and seen the lists that tell us what we “must have” on hand in our medicine cabinet, in the off chance of a toothache, fever, or case of indigestion. While many OTC drugs become daily essentials for many individuals, medicine cabinets across America are filled with a variety of OTC drugs that may be hazardous, never get used, or are even misused and abused.

OTC Drugs

If you’re looking for healthier and safer alternatives to taking OTC drugs, here are a few ideas to treat some of the most common ailments such as back pain, headaches, and sleeplessness:

A Note on Alternative Remedies
Although the following suggestions are intended to be healthier and safer than some of your most commonly used OTC drugs, it’s important to talk with your medical professional about any health concerns. If pain, discomfort, and other issues persist, contact your doctor for additional advice.

Sleep Issues
According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly one-third of American adults have a sleep disorder and given the nature of our busy lives, it’s no wonder that many of us struggle to get enough sleep each night. Although sleep aids are a common OTC drug, they are often misused and can lead to larger problems like addiction.

Instead of relying on a OTC sleep aid, work on creating a healthy sleep routine such as consistent bedtimes and keeping electronics out of the bedroom. You may even want to consider a warm cup of milk or herbal tea and using lavender essential oil to put you in a state of calm and ready to sleep.

Body Pain
Millions of Americans suffer from some kind of body pain from stiff joints to chronic back pain. When an occasional ache or pain strikes, taking a few ibuprofens is relatively harmless, but overtime it can result in permanent liver damage and stomach ulcers.

Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture or massage, have been known to help manage all kind of pain throughout the body. Additionally, eating a healthy diet of anti-inflammatory foods, such as leafy greens and tomatoes, and doing regular exercise, such as walking or yoga, can help keep your pains away.

While there are many natural supplements on the market, designed to help with pain, always do your research and talk with your doctor before taking, especially if you take prescription medication.

Headaches
For many people, an occasional headache is just a part of life. Many of us grab a few ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin and go about our day, only to take more when another headache arrives or persists. Although these headaches are a common ailment and the OTC drugs designed to provide relief are relatively harmless, like ibuprofen, acetaminophen and aspirin can cause liver damage and other issues when used long term.

Whether you suffer from tension headaches or migraines, a good start to managing your pain is by pinpointing your triggers. Do you have too much stress? Do you get enough exercise? Are you subjected to too much noise throughout your day? These are just a few common headache triggers.

By modifying your lifestyle, such as incorporating more stretching into your daily routine or even try aromatherapy or adding certain herbs and spices to your meals, you may decrease or even eliminate mind numbing headaches.

Tooth Ache
Have sensitive teeth or are in need of dental work? While dental issues should never be ignored too long because tooth pain could indicate a bigger problem, some people need temporary relief. While many people head straight for the bottle of OTC pain reliever, it’s not the safest and healthiest option.

While there are no permanent remedies for a toothache, other than taking a trip to the dentist, a salt water treatment (swishing through your mouth) is the safest and most natural method for keeping your mouth clean and lessening pain. Other methods include peppermint tea bags and clove oil.

Colds
Catching a cold is almost guaranteed during the wintertime and even if you of good health, colds are hard to avoid and they are equally as difficult to treat. If you visit the doctor in hopes of treating the common cold, he or she will more or less tell you to wait it out and recommend OTC cold medicines.

While syrups and pills may temporarily relieve a nasty cough that keeps you awake at night, they aren’t designed to be taken for long periods of time and OTC cold and cough medicines are often misused and abused. Rather than taking a risk and impairing your judgement or hurting your health, try some natural remedies like soup, honey, humidifier, a hot bath, and vapor rub. Patience is often your best remedy when dealing with a cold.

Allergies
Seasonal allergies forces millions of people each year to seek relief in antihistamines and nasal sprays. While OTC allergy relief can help reduce symptoms, it can increase drowsiness and fatigue (which can cause accidents).

If you suffer from allergies, the best way to alleviate your symptoms is to avoid your triggers, but it’s not always possible, especially during pollen season. Creating a drink with Apple Cider Vinegar and honey supposedly helps break up mucus, supports lymphatic drainage, and helps to boost your immune system.

When food or drink don’t offer relief, thoroughly cleaning your home, ensuring your air filters are clean and even running an air purifier, can help reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.

Digestive Issues
Embarrassingly as the topic may be, everyone may suffer from constipation or loose stools. When your digestive system is unbalanced and sensitive, you may stock up on laxatives and OTC diarrhea medicine. Rather than relying on a medication that can make matters worse if you take too much or too little, why not try consider treating your digestive issue with some lifestyle changes?

Stress and diet are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to a digestive issue. Do you eat while answering work emails or have inconsistent meals due to a busy schedule? Try sitting down and allowing yourself 20 minutes of peace, quiet, and a well-balanced meal. You may be surprised by the way you begin to feel.

Some natural “home remedies” work and others do not. Do your research and stop using if your condition gets worse or doesn’t seem to get any better.