Editor's Note : We're delighted to welcome
back Burke Lennihan, R.N., C.C.H., to once again share her special knowledge. She addressed emotional first
aid last time; now she details what to include in your natural medicine cabinet and how to use its contents
We suggest you print out this article and take it to the store
with you to purchase your supplies, then keep a copy with your remedies
Burke is a Harvard alumna, a Health Expert on Dr. Oz'
Sharecare.com, and a holistic practitioner at the
Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge, Mass. This article is based on her book,
Your Natural Medicine
Cabinet: A Practical Guide to Drug-Free Remedies for Common Ailments, in which she shares her knowledge and wisdom from 35 years working in the holistic health
Levin, R.N., T.S.T.A., Editor
TOP TEN NATURAL
MEDICINE CABINET REMEDIES
Wouldn't you like to have some natural medicines on hand for family emergencies - ones
that tend to be safer and work even better than the conventional ones? Here are the ones that I recommend
for everyone to have on hand. Instructions are covered in part 3 of this series.
Arnica for bumps, bruises, black eyes, sore
muscles, sports injuries, sprains and strains, any time there has been soft tissue trauma. It should also
be used immediately for a head injury, possible concussion (after calling 911 if indicated). The person who
needs it will report feeling sore and bruised, and Arnica can even be used when that sensation is present
without actual soft tissue trauma, like the flu or jet lag. Whether for mom and baby right after
childbirth, for a toddler who's always falling down and bumping her head, a child learning to skateboard, a
teenager on the football team, an elderly person losing her balance and falling, Arnica is probably the #1
remedy to have on hand.
Calendula comes in a close second, as it is
universally useful anytime the skin is broken: cuts, lacerations, abrasions, even surgical incisions. It
pulls the sides of the wound together, speeds healing, reduces pain and scarring and prevents infections.
It is tremendously helpful for recovery from surgery (one dose right before then twice daily afterwards
until the wound is healed.) It also soothes burns.
Aloe vera gel also soothes burns - keep a plant growing in your kitchen and break off a leaf when
you burn or cut yourself, or keep a bottle of the gel in the refrigerator such as George's Always Active.
It's also great for the GI tract. The George's brand tastes like water, or if you have a plant, remove the
tough green skin and scrape out the wonderful healing gel inside.
phos . to "nip it in the bud": to prevent an infectious
illness from taking hold. You probably know the warning signs for yourself, perhaps a funny scratchy
feeling in the back of your throat. Or you feel under the weather, run down, susceptible, then you get a
mild fever and "Uh-oh, feels like I'm getting sick." That's the perfect time to take Ferrum phos. (twice a
day until this foreboding state gets resolved). You probably know how your child looks when she's about to
get sick: dark circles under her eyes, moaning and listless, uninterested in food or TV. Kids love taking
these remedies, which are totally safe for them.
Gelsemium, the best anti-viral when the
person has the typical viral symptoms of extreme exhaustion (even their eyelids droop to half mast), foggy
brain, malaise, fever, dizziness and maybe trembliness in their limbs.
Arsenicum for colds and flu when you have
watery discharge ("nose running like a faucet") or for traveler's diarrhea/food
Pulsatilla if there's a small child in the
family: it's used for the childhood illnesses, and in common infectious illnesses in children (colds,
coughs, sore throats, ear infections) when the child is normally mild and sweet-tempered, clingy to mom,
needy of affection, and sometimes a little whiny or manipulative, although they have sudden changes in mood
and can turn on a dime from crying to smiling. When they're sick, they become much more clingy, needy and
whiny. It can also be used for adults who tend to get needy/clingy when they are sick.
vomica for digestive upsets (nausea and vomiting) plus just
about anything that goes wrong with the digestive system, from heartburn to hemorrhoids. It's also good for
just about any condition that involves nausea (such as morning sickness or motion sickness) IF the person
has a Nux vomica personality: he's irritable, tends to be a workaholic, and pushes himself with stimulants
like spicy/fatty junk food, caffeine, drugs or cigs.
Remedy a blend of flower essences, is like a universal
remedy for the whole gamut of emotional traumas. Flower essences (similar to homeopathic medicines) can
help when the trauma is physical as well, like your child falling off her bike.
Ignatia is the top remedy for sudden,
strong emotions of all kinds: grief, rage, betrayal, indignation, humiliation. You might need this, for
example, if you suddenly found out that your partner has betrayed you with your best friend, or that a
less-qualified co-worker got a promotion you expected, or that a loved one passed away. You might sob
hysterically, with a lump in your throat, hardly able to breathe from the feeling of pressure on your
chest. Think of Ignatia when the emotions are heightened, even to the point of histrionics or melodrama.
Yes, it's the remedy for drama queens and teenage girls!
How to Gather and Use the Remedies
(Note: We published the following section previously in Burke's article on
Emotional First Aid; we include it here so you'll have it when you print out your copy to keep with your
First, what to
buy: They are usually available in a 30c potency or
strength, the best potency for most people and most situations. However, if you are a hypersensitive
(sensitive to just about everything - medications, chemicals, fumes, vibrations, others' emotions) it may
be too strong for you. Hypersensitives should get a milder 6c or 12c potency, sometimes available in larger
stores, or you may need to order them online.
brand? There are two common brands: Boiron (the "blue tube") and
Hylands. Both are good and can be used interchangeably. All the brands are similar in
How much to
take for one dose: you only need a couple of pellets, even if the
label says to take 5 pellets. Dissolve them in the mouth rather than swallowing them, because they work
when they touch the mucous membranes inside your mouth.
often: you take them more often when you are really sick or have
really strong symptoms, less often for mild symptoms or when you start to feel better. Here's the tricky
part: when healing is clearly underway, you have to stop taking your remedy! You only repeat it when the
symptoms start to come back.
Why it didn't
work: Stopping the remedy when it starts to work is totally
counterintuitive, and it's one reason why people say these medicines don't work. If you take too much, you
get a boomerang effect and you actually start to feel worse. (You may have heard that "you have to feel
worse before you feel better" with homeopathic remedies, and this is absolutely not true. If you control
the frequency according to how you respond, you won't feel worse.)
On the other
hand, the most frequent reason that homeopathic remedies seem to not work, in my practice, is that people
don't take enough. They'll say, "Oh, I tried a remedy for my cold, and it didn't do anything." Then when I
ask them how they took it, they say they only took one dose! Rarely does one dose do
review: You have an emotional upset. You find a well-matching
homeopathic remedy (the symptoms need to match or it probably won't work) and you dissolve a couple of
pellets in your mouth. Wait a few hours and check in with yourself: how do you feel? If no better, take
another dose. If significantly better, wait until there's a downturn before you take another
It's often wise to
take a dose before you go to sleep, because we heal while we sleep.
don't feel better after several doses: You might need a different
remedy that matches you better, or it's not strong enough for you. If you're really, really sick you need
to make it stronger and/or take it more often. Also, someone who is sturdy, strong and basically healthy is
likely to need an extra-strong dose of this gentle energetic medicine (I'm thinking of a teenage football
player who gets a sports injury.)
To make it
stronger , dissolve a couple of pellets in a half cup of water and
stir well. You might need to crush the pellets to dissolve them. Again, this is counter-intuitive: why
would diluting the pellets make them stronger? You're only using a small amount of water, and stirring well
makes the water take on the properties of the pellet. The water will touch a larger area inside your mouth
and convey more information to your body's healing energy (which is how these natural medicines
antidotes: You may have heard that you should not touch
homeopathic remedies with your fingers, and that they are antidoted by a long list of things including mint
and coffee, but that is not true in my experience. Just take them in a "clean mouth" i.e. no strong taste
or odor. It doesn't matter if you have food in your stomach, because they work as soon as they touch your
About lactose in the remedies:
Triturated (soft) tablets (such as cell salts) are 100% lactose; pellets such
as the Boiron ones (hard ones) are mostly sucrose with a small % lactose used as a binder. One homeopathic
pharmacy I contacted uses 15% lactose.
If you are lactose
intolerant, you have two options:
poppyseed-size pellets from Natural Health Supply, and/or
2. Dissolve one
pellet in 4 oz water, stir well, one tsp. becomes a dose.
If you dissolve a
poppyseed pellet in 4 oz water, the amount of lactose in a teaspoon becomes truly
For more complete information along with
great tips for handling a wide variety of everyday health challenges, see Burke's book,
Your Natural Medicine
We know that we recover from any
physical trauma much more quickly and easily if our food diet keeps us well nourished . What is less
well known, but at least or even more important, is our emotional diet - the emotional nutrients we take
in from others and feed ourselves. To learn how to replenish yourself emotionally, go to
http://www.youremotionalnutrients.com . While there take advantage of the free emotional
nutrient samples as many times as you like.
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