“By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.” ~Benjamin Franklin
Wouldn’t you agree that having everything you need to mend a new injury immediately after the traumatic event occurs, will lead to a better outcome? Or that having medicine on hand will help you avoid getting the worst of the symptoms.
It’s not the wisest of choices to wait until you are sick or injured to go the store to pick up your basic healing remedies and supplies. Especially if you’d rather heal as naturally as possible. You have the best chances at nipping infection in the bud if you start taking medicine right at the onset of symptoms – the moment your head feels funny, your throat gets scratchy, or you become lethargic and achy. At the time of exposure is even better. Then you will be less likely to experience the full-blown symptoms.
When a person isn’t feeling well, it’s hard to think clearly and make decisions about what is the best option to buy or take. I often know how to help other people when they are sick to feel more comfortable, but when I am ill, I don’t always know what I need.
Plus, we risk exposing others to our sickness when we go to the store ill. When I worked in the natural food store, a woman came in with the full-on flu (feverish and weak) looking for something to help herself. A little less than 24 hours later, I got it and I was 7 weeks pregnant. Thankfully I had what I needed at home. Please don’t risk exposing others by going to the store yourself.
It’s better if you don’t have to send someone else to store for you either. Especially if they aren’t familiar with the products you use or the store you shop at. Besides that, you will likely miss that window before full-blown symptoms arise.
What to do instead…
Have your medicine cabinet prepared, stocked and ready for anything.
Nature is teeming with phyto-nutrients that our body recognizes and can utilize to cleanse, detoxify, protect, nourish, and build with. They are rich with antiseptics that can ward off pathogens without creating resistant super bugs or strip us of our good bacteria in the process. Intelligent and dynamic molecules that will assist our body in repairing. Being knowledgeable before disease, illness, or injury strikes is the ultimate in being prepared – Read more about that here – #3 Understand Basic Human Physiology and Nutrition
Here are some basic things you may want to include in your own medicine cabinet. I’ve included links to some of my favorite products and few quick resources that give you an overview of benefits and precautions. Please consult your healthcare providers before taking anything, do your own research, and speak with a clerk at your natural food store to help assist you further.
Cold and Flu
Homeopathic remedies such as Oscillococcinum® or Umka® to help reduce symptoms of cold and flu and help speed up recovery time without side-effects. They work to shorten the duration of viral infection by activating the bodies own immune response using highly diluted elements.
Herbal and other natural remedies such as elderberry syrup, goldenseal, oregano, astragalus, throat coats made with honey, or blends to support your immune system internally and break up and expel mucus.
Essential Oils Basics (organic therapeutic-grade must be used when using medicinally)
Peppermint – for fevers and to open sinus passages
Oregano and/or Thyme – the heavy hitters for any pathogen
Thieves or other blends specifically made for immune action
Eucalyptus to help open sinuses and alleviate headaches (can be diffused numerous ways)
** There are some basic and rather important things to know when using essential oils. Please use caution and do your research before purchasing them. This blog is intended to help one make sure they are stocked up with the basics (a topic for another day).
Raindrop Technique (RDT) is an aromatherapy technique that everyone can learn to do at home. I know of nothing better for viral outbreaks and we use it in my household anytime someone in our family gets sick. There is some important know-how when using these potent oils (like what to do if you get an oil in your eye or how to cool it down if it gets too spicy) so some training is necessary. It is easy and effective once you know how to do the application.
Diffusers and/or Humidifiers
Having an essential oil diffuser or humidifier is helpful for a couple of reasons. It helps open stuffy sinuses open, hydrates airways, and helps make breathing easier. When combined with aromatics, oils like eucalyptus, that can help clean the air and the respiratory systems of those who breathe it in. It can also help quarantine or clean the air around the contagious person, protecting the caregivers and family members from becoming ill.
Nasal rinses (sprays, neti pots, etc.) are a must if the sinuses have become filled with mucus. Whether it is my kids or myself, I often make getting and keeping mucous clear one of my goals for returning health during upper respiratory infection. Nasal rinses assist your body in washing out infection within the head and makes breathing less labored.
Stomach (food poisoning, digestive disturbance)
Bentonite Clay or Activated Charcoal – is a must have in cases of bacterial/parasitic insult or intestinal upset occur such as allergic reaction to food. They help absorb poisons in our guts so that our body can eliminate them more easily. I wouldn’t want to be caught without one of these if I have an unfortunate exposure to contaminated food.
Ginger – comes in every form you can think of (chews, crystalized, syrup, pill, powder, or fresh) and can calm spasms in the intestines and encourage normal peristalsis movement.
Peppermint – also helps soothe the stomach, stimulates digestion and cools too much heat in the belly.
Digestive Enzymes – helps assist the body in metabolizing food, converting what we eat into smaller parts. They also help break down dead cells and tissues, delivering to the body the nutrients it needs to repair and heal damaged tissue and heal inflammation.
Probiotics – are the front line of your immune system. They are responsible for protecting you against destructive pathogens, manufacturing vitamins, and coenzymes, regulating digestion and maintaining healthy tissues.
Essential Oils – there are many oils that can be massaged over the belly or ingested (tea or capsulated) that can help in numerous ways. I have a couple digestive blends that I always keep handy for when a tummy ache strikes. They aren’t the most pleasant smelly oils in my oil collection, but man do they work! The most basic essential oil or tea for stomach problems is peppermint.
Organic Whole Leaf Aloe Juice – aloe is one of those A-Z medicinals, like lavender and frankincense. It is nutrient dense and is known for its regenerative properties – helping to heal burns, ulcers, and leaky gut. It’s great for the liver/gallbladder detoxification, acid reflux, upset stomach, and is a gentle laxative.
Pain Injury and First Aid
Natural anti-inflammatories – will help the body respond to physical trauma will greater efficiency – assisting in the chemical enzymatic actions taking place to break down and repair injury site, and offering our cells the nutrients necessary to build new tissue.
A couple examples are:
New Chapter’s Zyflamend™ – a supercritical extract of herbs that are natural COX2 inhibitors, that have been shown to help reverse the damaging effects of inflammation (arthritis, certain cancers, Alzheimer’s, etc.) without the side-effects that are associated with long-term use of drugs such as NSAIDs (aspirin) or Celebrex.
Garden of Life’s Wobenzyme™ – a supplement that blends proteolytic enzymes that break down metabolic waste and important nutrients for repairing connective tissue and bones.
Analgesic Creams – great for muscle and joint pain. They help take the edge off pain without completely numbing it. You need to have some degree of pain when injured so that you don’t re-injure the site before it has finished healing. Creams oftentimes create a cooling or warming sensation when rubbed on. Massaging them in can erase tension, increases circulation, and amplify conscious connection.
Essential Oils Basics (organic therapeutic-grade must be used when using medicinally)
Lavender – for any kind of burns, bruises, or to help calm raised tensions
Wintergreen or Birch – the original aspirin
Panaway ™– a Young Living blend used to help cool inflammation, alleviate nerve pain, and nourish the bones during repair
Helichrysum – one of the most potent oils to help during the inflammatory process, also been known to encourage nerve regrowth
Tea Tree (Melaleuca) – a fantastic antiseptic that helps keep fresh wounds clean and can be used for fungal infection
Egyptian Magic or other healing salve/balm – all-purpose healing salve to be used with essential oils when healing anything involving skin – burns, cuts, infections, scars, dry patches, etc. Can be used in place of Neosporin®.
Organic Aloe Vera Gel – it’s greatly beneficial to keep a live plant at home in case of burns. You can also purchase a prepared gel. I highly recommend only buying organic all natural brands otherwise you will likely purchase highly preserved gels diluted with artificial colors and stabilizers.
Ice Packs – ice packs are good to have in the freezer at home when injuries like sprain, strains, broken bones, or medium/severe bruising occur. Post-surgery may also require a great deal of icing. Icing and elevation (getting the limb above the level of your heart) help to reduce swelling from inflammation.
Heat Packs – heat packs are helpful for pain and loosening up tense muscles, but you must be cautious when using heat in an area that is inflamed. The rule of thumb when using heat for inflammatory conditions is twice as much icing – ice, heat, ice.
First Aid Kit w/Bandages, Tweezer, and Other Supplies – you can get first aid kits already made or create your own with a variety of supplies. Make sure to put cotton swabs, q-tips, and gloves in your case.
Magnesium – one of the nutrients required for a nerve or muscles to return to a resting state. Our hearts can not pump properly without sufficient magnesium. Every muscle cell requires it to turn off and on. We place large demands on our magnesium stores when we exert ourselves with sports, laborious activity, and long days running around. Some days we use up more than we are taking in through our food. In that case, supplementation is beneficial.
I recommend having both Epsom salts to soak in and a supplement you can take internally, such as an effervescent or a liquid. I work at making sure I get ample amounts of magnesium every day in my diet so that my blood is never taking it from my bones. But I have days when the demand is higher than the consumption. That’s when I soak for 20 minutes in Epsom or sea salt. Or when stress is high or I’ve had too much coffee.
Meditation Techniques – there are so many ways to facilitate healing and alleviate pain and anxiety through mental awareness. Explore different ways to direct your attention and utilize the mind to help heal the body. Body and mind are one when the communication gateways are open and the mind can help harness the body’s healing capacities.
Open Focus is a fast and easy technique that helps initiate an immediate body-mind connection and relaxed conscious awareness that will automatically get your body to surrender tension and soften pain and anxiety.
We all have to find what works best for us when it comes to ways of becoming more present and attuned. We all have personal preferences and individual needs. Cultivate your favorite techniques when things are calmer or challenges are minor so that when stressful events take place, you are practiced at staying calm and centered in the face of chaos and crisis.
Being prepared before something goes awry gives you the best chance for mending any ailment in the body more quickly and more efficiently.
I hope these resources have at least sparked you to consider whether you are prepared for anything that might ail your cherished body. I realize I have some missing items in my own cabinet and plan to take care of that stat.
Cheers to living an embodied life!
Shalene Zarate, LMT, NMT, CST
Beyond being a massage therapist, Shalene’s calling is to help deepen the relationship her clients have with their own nature, by helping them re-establish a close relationship with their bodies, and with the foods and lifestyles that nourish them.