It’s December, also known as part of “flu season”, but last time I checked there were only four seasons in the year: spring, summer, fall, and winter? Today, I’m sharing all about creating a holistic medicine cabinet in your own home, why these products work for us, and how you can avoid getting sick this season by boosting your immune system accordingly.
But first, a big disclaimer: remember I am not a doctor. I am a food writer, social media manager, and chef. Legally I must tell you to check with your doctor before you start taking any supplements, teas, or tonics, specially if you are pregnant. Check with your doctor, I say. But I also say this: do your own research. This blog right here, hopefully, is a starting point for you to go off on your merry way and do your own research. Yes, you’re allowed to Google things because it’s 2019 and not 1919 and medical and scientific research papers live in this big thing we call the Internet. Search and research, do your due diligence. Ask questions. Wonder why we do things. Implement ways we can do them better. Ok, that’s enough of a disclaimer.
Whew, now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s talk all things medicine cabinet! A few months ago I decided that we needed a switch to healthier, more natural medicines in our medicine cabinet – which was actually a small travel bag but turned into a drawer after this project. I was becoming too dependent on Tylenol for my headaches, Pepto and Tums for my stomachaches, and overall just had products in that bag that weren’t actually helping. Thus the idea of Creating a Holistic Medicine Cabinet came into play. Below, I’ll tell you everything that I have in the new medicine drawer but note some things were already part of my life, I am just now seeing them for their actual healing powers and not just as culinary items anymore. So, here we go!
Creating a Holistic Medicine Cabinet
First, let’s start with herbs because they are a powerhouse of health and one of the best ways to stay healthy. Herbs, flowers, spices – all gifts from nature that when used consistently and from good sources, create goodness from within.
Dried Stinging Nettle by Bee Well MV: my local herbalist grew and dried this stinging nettle and recommended I steep it overnight and drink in the AM. Stinging Nettle has a high nutrient content and taken in the morning, it can really help kick-start your body when you’re feeling stagnant and just need an extra herbal push.
Sleepytime Tea by Bee Well MV: another great herb blend from Bee Well is this sleepy time tea, you don’t even know how good it is until you can barely keep your eyes open after sipping it in bed. This is a blend personally made for me that includes skullcap, passion flower, valerian root, licorice, and cinnamon. It’s the perfect blend to rest and relax after a long day – and since sleep is so important for our immune system, getting a good night sleep is a top priority.
Dried Lemon Balm by Bee Well MV: the last herb from Bee Well is this dried lemon balm, that she also grew and dried herself. The volatile oils in this powerful herb contain chemicals known as “terpenes” that relax muscles and relieve symptoms such as excess gas. I sip on this twice a day – typically I just steep it in the morning and drink from it throughout the day.
Reishi-Chaga Boost Mushroom Tea by Tamim Teas: a blend of organic red rooibos, organic roasted carob, chaga mushroom, organic elderberries, organically grown reishi mushroom, and organic ginger this is my go to tea when I need a little boost in my day. Reishi helps enhance the immune system, reduce stress, improve sleep, and lessen fatigue, all things I need in my life, specially during the holiday season.
Seasonal Sampler by Traditional Medicinals: this box is a really good one to have at all times, as it contains four bags of each of: Gypsy Cold Care®, Echinacea Plus®, Throat Coat®, and Breathe Easy®. Basically, this little tea box is an arsenal of goodness of cold and flu season and one I always recommend having around.
Gas Relief Tea by Traditional Medicinals: this is the ideal tea to have around if you suffer from stomach aches, indigestion, or bloating. This traditional formula is an herbal powerhouse of gas-relieving herbs, called carminatives, that have worked to support digestion for thousands of years. A blend of caraway, coriander, lemon balm, chamomile and peppermint combine to make this time-tested blend a cup of soothing relief which I love taking after a big meal.
Nighty Night Tea by Traditional Medicinals: similar to the Sleepy Time tea above, this is a blend of valerian with complementary herbs like passionflower, lemon balm and peppermint, perfect for putting your mind and body at ease if you have had a long, busy day.
Now, let’s talk about daily supplements and what I take – because for years I never did take supplements for the same reason everyone doesn’t like them. “Oh, whenever I take a multivitamin it makes my stomach hurt or I feel nausea.” That reason stopped me from finding out the real reason – most multivitamins are actually crap and stuffed with fillers that WILL make your stomach not feel the greatest. After some research, I found NutriGold. NutriGold is a family-owned, mission-driven, wellness company powered by integrity, which is hard to find in the vitamin industry these days. These come in glass jars, which I appreciate! Below, what I take from their products, a multivitamin and a B-Complex:
Women’s Multi Gold by NutriGold: a formulation of whole-food nutrients concentrated from fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Each serving provides a whole-food blend of healthful ingredients, and more than 100% DV of 14 vitamins and minerals, including plant-sourced folate. Women’s Multi Gold is manufactured in the USA to industry-defining quality standards and is verified by independent third-party labs to meet identity, purity, and potency label claims.
B-Complex Gold by NutriGold: a blend of eight B vitamins, this is something I recently started taken per my herbalist’s direction. This B-Complex is compromised of: B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-7 (biotin), B-9 (folic acid), and B-12 (cobalamin).
Up next, what is in my opinion some of the most important ways to stay healthy during the fall and winter if you live in the North. Immune Boosting supplements, tinctures, and herbal medicine are a must, and I take them mostly during this time of year as well as during the spring and summer if I find myself traveling on planes a lot, part of large crowds, or around small children.
SuperPure Echinacea by Pure Synergy: Triple extracts from Echinacea purpurea aerials & root & Echinacea angustifolia root maximize the full array of immune-boosting benefits – and this is what you want to see with herbal medicine – the entire plant, not just the stems or just the root. Everything comes together to create some of the best echinacea I’ve ever taken. Echinacea is one of the first things I take the moment I feel an itch in my throat and it certainly stops anything that wants to make me sick!
Immune Health by Pure Synergy: this is designed for daily, ongoing systemic support, which I love. The blend of mushrooms and herbs in this is outstanding. Ingredients such as astralagus root extract, cordyceps mushroom (ancient energizer), reishi mushroom (adaptogen), and shiitake mushroom (immune fortifier) make this a great supplement to add to your everyday life. Medicinal mushrooms are slowly but surely coming back into our health stream and I couldn’t be more excited because their benefits are some of the best of anything in Mother Nature.
Rapid Rescue by Pure Synergy: at the first signs of feeling under the weather, or when you’re exposed and at risk, this is recommended as following: take 2 capsules 3 times daily for 7 days. Formulated for short-term use for a fast-acting health defense, this is always in my travel bag when I’m flying on planes or attending conferences with thousands of other people. If you order anything from this brand, this should be in your cart. Plus, instead of taking all these immune boosting herbs separately, this makes it simple with two capsules where you’ll get: echinacea, elderberry, andrographis, ginger, Manuka honey, olive leaf, oregano, and propolis – all incredibly beneficial to your immune health!
Immune Tonic by Urban Moonshine: the simplicity of this tonic is what I love about it, and something I add to our morning smoothies daily. An herbal tonic that combines immune-toning herbs and medicinal mushrooms traditionally used to support optimal immune function, this is a simple way to start getting healthier right now.
Turmeric & Honey Apple Cider Vinegar Shots by Vermont Village: made with only raw and organic apple cider vinegar, organic honey and organic turmeric, these shots come in handy when I need a quick boost on the go. With 200mg of turmeric per serving, it also helps with inflammation in the body. Because gut health is so important in your overall health, the benefits of apple cider vinegar are endless and this is a great way to get it in!
MycoShield Immune Support by Host Defense: another item that’s always in my travel kit is this spray that combines five powerful polypore mushroom species: Agarikon, Red Reishi, Chaga, Birch Polypore and Turkey Tail. I’ve traveled with this for the past year and really have avoided catching anything, as I spray this before, during, and after traveling.
Now, I’m going to dive into some other items in my holistic medicine cabinet that really don’t fall into a specific category but that I always have on hand:
Vitamin D3 + K2 by Solaray: last winter after getting some bloodworm done, my doctor noticed my Vitamin D levels were low and recommended including a Vitamin D supplement. After just a few months of taking it, my levels are back to normal but now my husband’s levels are low, so I ordered this Vitamin D3 with K2. Why with K2? “Vitamins D and K are both fat-soluble vitamins and play a central role in calcium metabolism. Vitamin D promotes the production of vitamin K-dependent proteins, which require vitamin K for carboxylation in order to function properly.” Read more over on NCBI on The Synergistic Interplay between Vitamins D and K for Bone and Cardiovascular Health.
IbuActin by Solaray: for the past 1.5 yeas I’ve had sciatica flareups and let me just tell you, they are not fun at all. After realizing that my dependance on Aleve and Tylenol was going to get my liver and kidneys in trouble, I threw those out and picked dup this IbuActin, is a formula containing Bromelain, White Willow, Papain, Ginger and Turmeric. Bromelain and Papain help digest protein debris in the body. It also contains White Willow, Salicin, Ginger and Turmeric which are known for their anti-inflammatory effects, which helps with the flareups. I take this most days to help counter the pain.
Wellbelly Probiotics by Natrol: this specific probiotic includes a proprietary blend of five hardy probiotic strains that will colonize both the large and small intestines for coverage throughout the intestinal tract, plus it also features 50 mg of cranberry per serving for additional urinary health support! The best of both worlds in a probiotic.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): oh NAC, my most faithful friend. About two years ago my doctor recommended I go on anxiety medicine because my anxious mind was getting a bit out of hand and when I asked if there was something more natural, she recommended NAC, an amino acid that helps with anxiety, depression, and obsessive thoughts. I want to state here: NAC has been LIFE CHANGING for me. It’s not only reduced my anxiety but my obsessive thoughts and I can actually get on with my life. I recommend this to anyone looking for a way to take the edge off anxiety. It’s seriously incredible. You can read more benefits of NAC here. There’s a few companies that sell NAC so check out what’s available to you!
Melatonin Gummies by Natrol: here’s the thing with melatonin – depending on how you take it, it seems to affect our bodies differently. For example – melatonin pills make me have nightmare versus these gummies that put me to sleep so quickly. I’m a fan and typically I’m not a fan of gummies because of the fake sugars and coloring, neither which are present in this brand. It’s vegetarian and the coloring comes from elderberry juice, plus with just 1g of sugar (organic tapioca syrup and organic cane sugars) I don’t really mind it at all, plus it does the work.
Sleep is so essential to our health and these are part of my medicine cabinet because when you aren’t getting enough restful sleep, you aren’t at your finest. Sleep is the only time our bodies can actually focus on healing and recovery, so making sure to get good sleep is key to a healthy body.
Thieves Essential Oil by Young Living: my friend Patti gifted me this oil this past summer and I have used it when I’m feeling run down and I wake up like a new person! A powerful combination of Clove, Lemon, Cinnamon Bark, Eucalyptus, and Rosemary essential oils, many people swear by its healing properties, which is why it’s a great oil to put on the soles of your feet when you feel out of sorts and also a fabulous oil to diffuse in your home if anyone is feeling not that great. The scent is marvelous and really perks your mood up!
Ointment, Therapy Cream, and Bandages by First Honey: as someone that works in a restaurant kitchen, cuts and burns happen throughout the weeks and months we are sautéing, chopping, and taking things out of the oven. We’ve loved having these ointments at work, along with the bandages because they actually do work. The magic of Manuka honey still impresses me. Medical grade Manuka honey has become widely used by healthcare professionals to treat and manage wounds. Harvested from their own bees in New Zealand, First Honey brings healing right from the hive.
You can read how it works here – not only am I loving the Skin Therapy Cream (it absorbs so nicely into the skin) but my husband loves the honey ointment (he used to be a fan of Neosporin but we got rid of that after learning about how bad petroleum derived gels are for you!). Definitely a must have set of items for a first aid kit.
All Natural Nasal Spray by Sinol: when I used to get awful allergies in the past years, nothing would help other than Flonase, which I hated due to its ingredients. This spray by Sinol is the perfect all natural switch! This homeopathic nasal spray quickly breaks up nasal congestion and relieves allergy and sinus symptoms, which I tend to get in the spring.
Soothing Coughs & Colds Formula Essential Oil Patch by Natural Patches of Vermont: I discovered these while visiting Salem last winter, as an herb shop and stocked up! These are so great for when you’re sick and want something soothing to breathe. Instead of using the synthetic rubs, these patches are made with essential oils like eucalyptus, to clear up your breathing.
If you read this all the way through, I appreciate you and so does your health! I hope you discovered some new products and brands that are there to help us boost our immune system this winter. I must state none of this is sponsored and I fully trust and have used these brands myself, and as a reminder – I’m not a doctor, so consult with your doctor and do your own research before using any of the above mentioned products. Be well my friends ❤️