Common ailments you can treat without drugs

Posted on June 10, 2014


Sometimes we just don’t feel like taking over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs, and sometimes we’d like to but don’t have access to one right at that very moment. Therefore I came up with this list as a guide for those days when you don’t have the luxury of medications at your disposal. Here are some ways to cure common ailments without a trip to your local pharmacy

Headache: as with a most other types of pain, is usually your body telling you to slow down. Therefore the first step at the sign of a headache is to do just that – slow down. Clear your mind, focus on something peaceful and take a nap if possible; most times the headache would have disappeared by the time you wake, If that doesn’t work, try placing an ice pack on your forehead, temple, or back of your neck to ease the throbbing. The cooling effect usually helps to relax muscles and relieve pain. A light pressured, circular motion head massage for about 10 – 15 seconds is also a good idea whenever you have a persistent headache. Finally, If you feel like your headache is caused by hunger, eat something and it usually goes away within an hour.

Common cold: There is actually no cure for the common cold. It is a self-limiting virus, which means that with time it goes away on its own, improving a little each day. However since most people buy OTC drugs as soon as their symptoms begin, it’s easier to give credit to the drugs for their relief, rather than time. Don’t get me wrong, I will still recommend OTC medications for symptom relief, but their effects are modest at best. Therefore if you’d rather skip the trip to the pharmacy, you can try taking a hot shower or putting a towel over your head and inhaling steam from boiling water (BE CAREFUL) – if available you can add some eucalyptus oil. Steam clears the nasal passages and reduces inflammation. Also, drink lots of fluids (especially water) because when the body is fighting infection, it becomes dehydrated. Perhaps this is also a good time to convince someone to make you some spicy homemade chicken soup, since is a delicious remedy with aromatic qualities that promote salivation and airway mucus secretions which soothe coughs and sore throats – it also helps that it is hydrating and comforting. Many generations have also turned to hot tea with honey or a salt and water gargle to provide soothing relief for a sore throat and cough. Lastly, don’t forget to rest and take it easy – if you are congested, try sleeping with an extra pillow to help drain nasal passages.

Stomach virus: This is also known as Gastroenteritis, and just like the common cold it is a self-limiting virus. Therefore there is really no cure, just management of symptoms. Again, drink lots of fluids such as water, broth, coconut water and sports drinks (to help with electrolyte replacement) especially if you are vomiting since it is very easy to become dehydrated. Sucking on small ice chips can also help to rehydrate and bring your temperature down if you are experiencing a fever.To help reduce any nausea, you may try some ginger tea/ale. Avoid milk, coffee, juices, alcohol, soda, and caffeinated tea, as they may upset your stomach and make your symptoms worse. If you are able to keep food down, keep it plain with food items such as toast, banana, crackers, rice, cereal, apple and potatoes. 

GERD: Also known as heartburn, is a very common and uncomfortable ailment. Some people will need to turn to medications to relieve symptoms and prevent possible long-term damage to the esophagus. However there are some times (such as after eating a huge slice of pizza) that you just need some relief right there and then. In cases like these, you may need to chew gum, as it stimulates acid-neutralizing saliva. Mixing between 1/2 and 1 teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water is also an effective base to help neutralize stomach acid, however it is not advised to use it regularly as it is high in salt and can cause swelling. Loosen any tight waist belts and bands to release the pressure on your stomach, and sleep with your upper body elevated so that your stomach acids don’t flow up your esophagus, worsening the heartburn. The last, and possibly most important step is to stop smoking (if you do) and stop eating foods that trigger your reflux.

Sleep: Chances are, you will suffer from difficulty falling asleep at some point in your lifetime, which may affect your ability to function during your wake hours. If you are currently tossing and turning and finding it difficult to sleep, first try turning your clock/phone around so you can’t see the time. Next, check that your sleep environment is pleasant and relaxing – Is your bed comfortable? Are you hot/cold? Can you hear noise? Is there too much light in your room? If after this, if it still takes more than thirty minutes to fall asleep, get up and do something relaxing, such as drinking warm non-caffeinated drink, doing some light reading or taking a warm bath. 

Have you tried any of these remedies? Do you have any to add? Do note that these natural remedies are not a complete substitute for drugs, and it is not recommended that you stop taking your drugs or refuse to seek medical help.