We spend, as a nation, billions of dollars every year at the pharmacy, but what if you could create your own natural one and save money? True, much of the prescriptions people take are paid for by their insurance, but often it’s at the high price of commercial insurance premiums and side effects. What are the health concerns that are costing us so much?
Over 131 million prescriptions were filled for pain medication last year. Pain relief is probably the most challenging of all conditions to tackle naturally, though it is possible. The challenge is, it takes more than a simple bottle switch. Check out my earlier article Pain Management to find tips for supporting pain. As far as a home pharmacy, depending on the type of pain – peppermint essential oil can work fast in the case of a headache. In stomach cramps and gas pains, reach for ginger or fennel for quick relief. Muscle aches can be eased with wintergreen oil or capsicum ointment. And bone pains are best relieved by birch essential oil. Menstrual pains are often assisted by the essential oil clary sage, rubbed right into the abdomen. Pain caused by bee and insect stings are helped most by familiarizing yourself with simple self-applied acupressure points – in this case, applying pressure to the point on the inside of the ankle, just above the heel. The point should be tender, even painful to the touch. When pressure is gently applied in a circular motion for 30-60 seconds on both sides, the pain of a bee sting quickly subsides.
Cholesterol medication ranks #2 of the most prescribed drugs this past year – over 94 million prescriptions. We also spend the most as a nation on Lipitor – a cholesterol lowering statin drug, costing the nation over 7 billion dollars a year. In addition, we spent 3.8 billion on Crestor, another drug that does the same thing. What? What are our alternatives to these expensive prescription drugs? And are they effective?
We do need cholesterol in our bodies for normal cell function, it is just that many of us are bringing into our diets too much of the wrong kind of cholesterol. We actually self-produce all of the cholesterol we need. Many natural remedies have a high level of success in helping people reduce ‘bad’ cholesterol levels. To do this monitoring at home, get yourself a home cholesterol test kit. For starters, raw garlic is an excellent natural remedy to increase in your diet. Garlic is known as nature’s statin, the same component that we are synthesizing and selling for billions of dollars. Studies have even reported that less than a half a clove per day added to your diet can reduce LDL cholesterol by 9-12%.
Almonds are another great cholesterol lowering food. Studies have shown just adding 1 cup of almonds to your diet per day can reduce cholesterol 10%. For the best results, choose raw, unroasted almonds. Replacing foods that you normally eat which contribute to high LDL cholesterol is an important part of making the change. Animal fats are the main culprit to watch out for. Eating almond butter instead of deli meats on a sandwich can be a great step toward getting off those expensive meds. Other foods to add to your diet are green tea, cayenne pepper, walnuts, pistachios, barley, dark chocolate, tomatoes, watermelon, coconut oil, flax seeds, oat and rice bran. Replacing fats like saturated animal fats, processed cooking oils and margarine with healthier fats like coconut oil, olive oil and peanut oil is a great place to start.
Let your kitchen become the part of your natural pharmacy that takes care of your cholesterol. Try using coconut oil for cooking next time or even spread it on your toast. Eat more nuts and less meat and try some new recipes that include barley and tomatoes.
Doctors wrote over 87.4 million prescriptions for blood pressure lowering medications last year. That is roughly 1 out of every 3 adults suffering. In the world of natural medicine, blood pressure seems to be one of the easiest things to tackle. First, diet and exercise need modification. Many cases of high blood pressure have been lowered just by adding something like tai chi or yoga into the lifestyle, as well as increasing fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet. The simple herb cayenne pepper has the ability to quickly and naturally regulate blood flow in the body, thereby supporting the lowering of blood pressure.
The health benefits of cayenne pepper and it’s medical uses are staggering, but it is best well known for it’s ability to stop a heart attack within 30 seconds due to its blood equalizing properties. How do you take it? It’s recommended by natural health professionals to start with 1/2 teaspoon in warm water, increasing to 1 tsp several times a day. You may add a teaspoon of raw honey if you desire, to cut the taste. It’s a bit startling at first, but you’ll get used to it.
Don’t worry, if you are concerned with ulcers, cayenne pepper actually helps to stimulate the production of the mucous membranes in the stomach, thereby working with the healing process, not against.
The drug Nexium cost this country 6.3 billion dollars last year, all for a simple antacid. Antacids are perhaps the most over-prescribed medications, as the problem can be dealt with simply if it is a single symptom issue. Many times, acid reflux and acid in the stomach is a side effect of other prescribed drugs. The best and least expensive natural remedy is raw apple cider vinegar. Just take 1 tablespoon in a small glass of water before meals. The apple cider vinegar helps bring the stomach ph back into balance. Make sure the apple cider vinegar is RAW – meaning it has the ‘mother’ still in it. The ‘mother’ is the culture that created the vinegar and is very important to assure the remedy is live and active. You can find raw apple cider vinegar at your health food store, there are several brands who make it including Spectrum and Bragg’s.
Apple cider vinegar has so many health benefits, you can find whole books on healing with ACV.
Other natural remedies including cutting dairy from your diet, which can coat your stomach, preventing the stomach acids from working, especially in the case of eating meat. When you consume dairy with meat, you almost invariably cut the body’s ability to digest the meat properly, which can result in stomach acid and reflux. Aloe vera juice is another great alternative, as it is also soothing to the stomach lining.
Over 70 million prescriptions for thyroid replacement hormones were written last year alone. Thyroid conditions seem to be on the rise, and the culprit could be as close as your dining room table. See one of my recent articles on Table Salt, which contains a high level of iodine. Iodine, in a certain amount is beneficial to the thyroid, but overdoing it can have the opposite effect, creating problems like hypothyroidism, even contributing to thyroid cancer. One of the best things you can do for your thyroid is to eat sea vegetables like kelp, seaweed and dulse. They are naturally high in iodine, and what is not needed by the body can easily be excreted. Switch from regular table salt to Himalayan salt.
There are other great natural herbal remedies that support the thyroid, using herbs like mullein, watercress, irish moss, parsley, nettle and sheep sorrel. Yoga is a great therapy for the thyroid as well, as many of the poses help to bring balance to the entire endocrine system and certain poses stretch and heal the thyroid itself, such as simple moves like chin to chest coupled with conscious breath.
Anti-biotics take several of the top ten slots for most prescribed drugs in America, including Azithromycin and Amoxicillin at 52.6 million and 52.3 million per year respectively. The problem with anti-biotics is that they are often haphazardly prescribed ‘just in case’ for many unsuspecting patients who just want to do ‘something’. Many anti-biotics have stopped working as bacterias are becoming resistant. The worst part about anti-biotics is that most people are not informed that it is absolutely essential to take pro-biotics while you are taking anti-biotics, and at the very least, when you are finished with the protocol. The reason for this is anti-biotics are non-selective, wiping out ALL bacterias -good and bad throughout the body. This leaves the body open, like a pee-tree dish to any bacteria or virus that comes along.
Natural anti-biotics are easy to come by these days. Some of the most effective (proving even up to 90% more effective than prescription anti-biotics) are grapefruit seed extract, oregano oil, golden seal root and garlic. Though these natural anti-biotics are strong and can cut down on some of the good bacteria as well – so pro-biotics are still recommended- they are much more selective, potent and kind to your body.
Diabetes is a whole other article on it’s own, as could any of these topics be, but the main thing to keep in mind when faced with diabetes is your diet. Diet is the most important factor to adjust in your life when diagnosed with diabetes. Refined sugar in all of its forms must be cut out, as should white flour products. Changing the way you eat could cause the diabetes to reverse, it has happened many times by those who have chosen a healthier route of whole grains, fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit.
Herbs that support the pancreas in healing are cedar berries, cinnamon, chamomile and holy basil – also known as Tulsi. Coconut oil is another great addition to the diet to support pancreas health.
Finally, anemia medications cost the U.S. 3.3 billion last year. Anemia is a decrease in the number of red blood cells or less than normal amount of hemoglobin in the blood. According to Wikipedia – it can also include a decrease in the ability for blood to carry oxygen to the organs of the body. Anemia is more likely to occur in those who have experienced excessive blood loss, those low in iron and excessive blood cell destruction.
The best ways to deal with anemia naturally are to increase plant chlorophyll (which is plant blood) in the diet. Include things like chlorophyll (in a liquid form), the intake of green vegetables, especially leafy greens, and herbs which are high in iron – like yellow dock, chickweed, burdock, catnip, and wheatgrass. Fruits like apricots, raisins, dates and figs are high in iron, as are most beans. Red meat is another good source of iron.
As you can see, you can create your own natural pharmacy and cut back on the money spent on prescription medication every year, freeing up that money to be redirected into other areas that can improve this country and your life.
Before cutting down or quitting any medications you are currently taking, consult with your doctor and health practitioner, express your desire to handle things more naturally and make up a plan that works for you.
Written by: Stasia Bliss