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My Favorite 12 Natural Items In My Medicine Cabinet

Over the years it's been a joke that I'm the typical cobbler's kid with no shoes, only I'm the naturopathic physician who never seems to have any bandaids or ibuprofen in my medicine cabinet. Truth is, I generally would run out at work and just grab some from home with every intention of replacing them...eventually. Having children changed all that, though, and I now have a very nicely stocked cabinet full of three kinds of bandaids (with fun colors and characters, of course) and lots of other goodies. Here is a list of my favorites, some of which I made myself but of which a similar one can generally be found for purchase.

1. CHEST RUB: Whether you have kids or not, having a menthol chest rub around is always great when that congestion hits. Make sure it's non-petroleum, please! I like Gaia brand children's chest rub for both my children and myself. It's also great to rub in your nose when traveling to decrease risk of illness.

2. IMMUNE SUPPORT: I actually have several options, some for children, some more for viral infections and others more for bacterial infections. Mostly I like to stock those that are just general immune support to take when everyone around me starts getting sick. I like mushroom-based ones a lot (ganoderma, etc) because they are basically a food. L-lysine is also a great friend to have on hand when fighting viral infections. Good old vitamin C is also a great option and can also be used as a laxative. Chewables are great because kids love them, too.

3. ALL-PURPOSE SALVE:It's very important to have a good base cream or salve in the house. I also like to keep some essential oils on hand that I can add to the base cream if needed, but that's a whole other blog...

4. D-MANNOSE: Even for those who have never had a bladder infection, I still recommend keeping some d-mannose on hand. This helps treat urinary tract infections that are caused by E coli, which the vast majority are. This is such an easy one to get kids to take because it's a sugar. When taking it, you hold the urine in your bladder for a bit and the bacteria stuck to your bladder wall jump onto the sugar and will get flushed out when you urinate. Seems like every bladder infection in our house occurs at 2am on a Saturday so this could easily save you an expensive trip to the ER.

5. PAIN FORMULA: While I still keep ibuprofen in my house for those times it's needed, a good pain formula is great to have around. I make my own and like to include herbs that help with pain, as well as those that help relax muscles. Some of my favorite herbs are white willow, cramp bark, kava, and Jamaican dogwood (although this should be used in very small quantities and with caution). Kava is great if you need the d-mannose, too, as it helps calm bladder pain.

6. CAPSACIN CREAM: This is a must for sore or strained muscles. The chili pepper in it starts out quite hot but soon creates a nice warming sensation that is amazing.

7. ADRENAL SUPPORT: While I have plenty of vitamins in my cabinet- multivitamins, B vitamins, and more- the one thing I take basically every day is adrenal support. If your life is relaxed, you sleep as much as you like, have no deadlines or young children, and your thyroid is in perfect shape, then perhaps you can skip this one... and I'm jealous in many ways :) This helps so many of my patients deal with stress and it was key in getting me through med school in one piece. My favorite descriptions from patients have been "magic potion", "sanity in a bottle", and "emotional teflon".

8. CALCIUM- MAGNESIUM: This is such a handy supplement for so many things. Liquid or powders are great because they are also easy to get into children and are so much more easily absorbed. This is great for constipation and can often help with some stress and muscle tension.

9. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY: There are a lot of great anti-inflammatories out there but good old tumeric is still at the top of my list for acute issues. I use it for tendon strains, headaches, and more. The brand Integrative Therapeutics makes a great water-soluble form called Theracurmin that I adore.

10. SINUS OIL: One of my all-time favorite treatments for sinus issues and colds is a beautiful little blend of almond oil and essential oils called Nasosympatico Oil by Wise Women Herbals. It can be put right inside your nose on a cotton swab but I use long swabs and stick it WAY up as close to my sinuses as possible and let it sit for 20 minutes.

11. HERBAL CLAY: Clays are so wonderful for so many topical issues. I love adding some to creams but will often just mix them with water and generally use a white clay, although green works just fine, too. I use several different herbs regularly but powdered myrrh, yarrow, chickweed, tumeric, and ginger are probably my most used ones as they can help with bacterial infections and help calm the skin.

12. ESSENTIAL OILS: I love my oils but if I could only pick three they would probably be eucalytus, peppermint, and thuja. Eucalyptus oil is so great with colds to make a steam, peppermint is great for headaches, and thuja is essential in all my creams to treat fungal infections.

Of course, a lot of my medicine is also found in the kitchen and around my yard but it is really important to have things on hand to grab quickly when needed. I think growing your own herbs and making your own medicine is very rewarding and this is a huge passion of mine, but at 2am the last thing you want to be doing is harvesting and concocting! There are so many different options to help you take care of yourself and your family and my favorites are often changing as new options and research articles are found. Do you have favorites? Please share!

Hi, I'm Dr Sarah Strong, ND and I'm a naturopathic physician in Hilo, HI. I am also the mother of two little girls who regularly need bandages and poultices! I love making my own medicine and have been doing it since I was a young girl and now I get to teach my children, which is amazingly rewarding. Find more information at

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