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Dangerous items in your medicine cabinet

By Lynn Allison From Newsmax

Jamie Otto/

Having a fully stocked medicine cabinet may seem like a good idea to treat winter colds and flu as well as aches and pains. But experts say the plethora of over-the-counter drugs that are available for these ailments carry the risk of potentially dangerous side effects. In fact, adverse effects from medications are a leading cause of emergency room visits, says Sherry Torkos, an award-winning pharmacist and author of “The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.”

Torkos tells Newsmax that some products can be hard on the liver or kidneys and others can cause bleeding in the stomach, a racing heart, insomnia, and anxiety. Many OTC drugs are not safe or are not recommended for young children because the risks can outweigh their potential benefits.

To keep your family safe and healthy, consider some natural remedies in your medicine cabinet makeover, Torkos says. “Many natural alternatives to OTC drugs can safely and effectively manage minor ailments for the whole family.”

Aches and pains. Whether it’s arthritis, sports injuries, or backache, many turn to OTC drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen for relief. These drugs can cause serious side effects, such as liver and kidney damage, ringing in the ears, stomach bleeding, and rebound headaches. Natural options for managing joint pain and inflammation include curcumin, omega-3 fatty acids, and products that contain NEM (natural eggshell membrane). For headaches, try a few drops of lavender on your temples or a supplement that contains butterbur, such as Petadolex. Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. author of “Real Cause, Real Cure,” says that Curamin and topical comfrey are also excellent in treating pain. “Curamin, which contains a blend of anti-inflammatory compounds, is more effective than Celebrex.”

Muscle sprains. Keep ice packs in your freezer to provide relief for minor injuries. Apply the ice pack to the affected area; 10 minutes on followed by 10 minutes off. Ice helps relieve pain and reduce swelling. Follow with a cream that contains arnica, which can help improve healing and reduce bruising, says Torkos.

Colds and flu. OTC drugs for managing symptoms like congestion and runny nose can cause a range of side effects such as racing heart, insomnia, drowsiness, and upset stomach. Instead of reaching for an OTC medication, try using a vaporizer with eucalyptus oil to help improve breathing. To clear congestion and mucus, try Similasan Cold & Mucus Relief; it contains gentle ingredients that help relieve symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and head and chest congestion and is safe for those 2 years and older. Using a Neti pot or saline nasal drops or spray can also help hydrate the sinus passages and clear mucus. To help speed healing — and shorten the duration of a viral infection — try zinc lozenges or Sambucol black elderberry extract.

Cough and sore throat. Buckwheat honey can help calm a cough and soothe a sore throat, and it also contains antioxidants and nutrients that help speed healing. Buckwheat honey can be given to children ages 1 and older. You can also make a soothing tea with warm water, lemon, and honey.

Cuts and scrapes. Tea tree oil is an effective natural antiseptic with antibacterial and antiviral properties. Try it for minor cuts and skin irritations, Torkos advises. “You can use a drop or two of the oil or look for a product that contains tea tree oil, such as Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Skin Ointment,” she says.

Digestive disorders. Gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation are common and distressing problems, says Torkos. Probiotic supplements can help aid digestion by improving levels of good bacteria in the gut. Probiotics also help improve nutrient absorption and support immune health. Try Kyo-Dophilus probiotics, which are stable at room temperature and are available in both capsules and chewable tablets for children. Soluble fiber supplements can compensate for a lack of dietary fiber and help both constipation and diarrhea. Look for Sunfiber, a clear, tasteless fiber that can easily be added to any fluid or recipe.

Dry eyes. When the furnace starts running, the air inside our homes, work, and school becomes drier and in turn can lead to dry eyes, burning, and irritation. To lubricate the eyes and relieve symptoms of dry eyes, try Similasan Dry Eye Relief. It is free of harsh chemicals and safe to use every day.

Dry skin and eczema. Colder outdoor weather — combined with dry indoor air — can be harsh on the skin. To sooth dry, itchy skin, add 2 cups of ground colloidal oatmeal (not breakfast oatmeal) to a tub of warm water. Avoid hot water because it can further dry and irritate skin. You can make your own colloidal oatmeal by grinding whole oats in a coffee grinder. After bathing, apply a moisturizer with soothing and hydrating ingredients like vitamin E.

Insomnia. Most OTC sleep aids contain antihistamines, which make you drowsy and fall asleep — however, they can also cause dry eyes and mouth and next-day drowsiness. Instead, try a supplement that contains Suntheanine (L-theanine). This amino acid helps promote relaxation and improves sleep quality without causing any drowsiness or dry mouth the next day. Melatonin is also helpful for getting to sleep and supporting restful sleep. Dr. Teitelbaum swears by the Revitalizing Sleep Formula — a combo of six herbs that leaves most folks “sleeping like puppies and kittens with no hangover.”

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