Cleaning? Don’t forget the medicine cabinet
By Sherry Torkos
When you’re doing a big house clean, don’t forget your medicine cabinets. They can build up with expired medications that you just don’t need any more. So ready for the big clean? Here are some things to keep in mind:
Choose a cool, dry storage place. Bathroom cabinets are OK, as long as they don’t get warm and steamy during baths and showers. Many products degrade when exposed to humidity and warm temperatures.
Check expiration dates. Toss any expired products. Many pharmacies offer safe medication disposal.
Safely secure all medications and supplements if there are young children in the house. Lock these products in a high cabinet.
Understand dosing instructions. For example, some products for children are dosed by weight or age. Others are not safe or recommended for children. So what should go in your medicine cabinet? If you’re looking for some natural options, there are plenty of homeopathic remedies. You should always check with your physician before trying a homeopathic remedy.
For colds: Many OTC cold products are not recommended for children less than four years old because studies have found that they really don’t help the symptoms and they carry the risk of significant side effects. A safer option to have on hand is Similasan Kids Cold & Mucus Relief to temporarily relieve symptoms of the common cold. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to help treat fever and aches/pains. Zinc lozenges can help a sore throat and speed recovery from a cold.
For insomnia: For sleep issues triggered by shift work or travel, try melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone naturally secreted by the body that regulates our sleep/wake cycles. Melatonin levels naturally decline as we age.
For nausea, upset stomach: Studies show that the very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols, found in ginger, can help relieve motion sickness, dizziness, nausea and gas and soothe the intestinal tract. You can find supplemental ginger in capsules and chewables in health stores.
Carefully review all labels. Now is a good time to remind yourself of any precautions. Many over-the-counter (OTC) drugs have warnings regarding their use in those who have serious medical conditions such as heart, kidney or liver disease.
For bruises and muscle strains: Arnica, available in tablets or gel, is a homeopathic remedy that can be used for treating minor bruises and muscle strains. It can reduce pain and swelling and speed healing. Keep a flexible cold pack handy to manage pain and swelling from an acute minor injury such as a strain or sprain. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen also can help treat aches and pains.
For eczema/skin rash: Oatmeal baths can help relieve dry, itchy skin. Add 2 cups of ground colloidal oatmeal (not breakfast oatmeal) to a tub of warm water (hot water can further dry out and irritate skin). Then, apply a moisturizer with soothing and hydrating ingredients such as vitamin E, aloe and lavender. Supplements that contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) such as evening primrose or borage oil may help reduce itching and inflammation.
Sherry Torkos is a pharmacist, author, certified fitness instructor and health enthusiast who enjoys sharing her passion with others. Torkos graduated with honors from the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science in 1992. Since that time, she has been practicing holistic pharmacy in the Niagara region of Ontario. Her philosophy of practice is to integrate conventional and complementary therapies to optimize health and prevent disease. Torkos has authored 16 books and booklets, including Saving Women’s Hearts, The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine and The Glycemic Index Made Simple. For more information, visit sherrytorkos.com.