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Alternative Remedies – an Overview

As pharmaceutical drugs become more expensive, many people are turning to alternative remedies for anywhere from minor ailments to serious diseases. On top of usually being less expensive, alternative and natural remedies tend to have less debilitating side effects and are safer than pharmaceutical remedies, which make many people see them as a more favorable way of treating both physical and mental afflictions.

For people who suffer from chronic insomnia, it can be much more desirable to turn to alternative remedies rather than taking prescription sleep medication. There are many effective remedies for insomnia that do not include drugs, and these remedies will not produce the negative symptoms that sleep medication can cause, such as drowsiness during the day, or even worse, addiction. The natural herb Valerian can be taken an hour before going to bed at night, and it will help the insomnia sufferer feel drowsy without feeling drugged. The effects of Valerian do not last as long as most sleep medications, so users will not experience that drowsy feeling the next morning that often happens after taking a sleeping pill. Valerian is also not habit forming, and therefore can be taken as often as is needed.

Many people use Valerian in combination with other calming herbs for insomnia or general anxiety conditions, or they may use other herbs alone, such as Kava Kava or Passionflower. Though these herbs are safe by themselves, they may not react well with pharmaceutical drugs, so a doctor should still be consulted if you are on any kind of medication and would like to also take herbs.

There are also natural herbs, plants, and other natural substances available for many other types of medical problems, such as St Johns Wort for depression, Rhodiola or Black Cohosh for menopausal symptoms, ginger root for upset stomachs or seasickness, feverfew for migraines, and glucosamine for arthritis and joint pain. Though many regular medical doctors may shy away from suggesting alternative remedies, other more enlightened doctors, or licensed naturopathic physicians, can help patients find alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs for a number of ailments.

Herbs are not the only things that can be used as alternative remedies for physical or mental ailments. Many alternative remedies can consist of herbs, vitamins, certain foods or drinks, exercise, acupuncture, changes in lifestyle or diet, prayer, meditation, or a combination of any of these things. Vinegar, a common food item in most households, has been proven effective in the treatment of a number of physical ailments. A tablespoon or two of vinegar in a glass of water can cure indigestions, gas, or diarrhea. Vinegar stimulates the healthy production of stomach acid, which, contrary to popular belief, actually helps heartburn and indigestion by helping stomach acid do what it was intended to do – break down and digest food. Gargling with vinegar and water can help soothe sore throats. Treating minor skin infections with a clean cloth soaked in vinegar and water can help cure the infection and ease the pain caused by the infection. Drinking a capful of vinegar in a glass of water has been known to ease the pain of migraine headaches.

A paste made out of baking soda and water can soothe burns, including sunburns. Nose drops made from warm water and salt can ease sinus pressure and postnasal drip. Soaking in a bath with added eucalyptus and sandalwood oils, as well as drinking cranberry juice, can help heal a urinary tract infection.

Exercise can be beneficial for many common medical complaints, both physical and mental. Regular aerobic exercise such as running, walking, or dancing can help increase endorphin levels in the brain, which in turn can boost seratonin levels and help ease depression and anxiety. Aerobic exercise can also help lower blood pressure, promote weight loss, help regulate the digestive system, increase mental alertness, and help with sleep disorders. Exercises that strengthen the stomach muscles can ease lower back pain, and weight lifting exercises can help prevent osteoporosis or slow its progression, and can ease joint pain by strengthening the muscles that support the bones.

Stress and anxiety can cause or exacerbate many medical afflictions, from neck stiffness to heart disease. Meditation has been proven to be an effective method for combating stress. People who learn to meditate effectively and do so regularly find that they feel more relaxed during the day, and can deal better with stressful situations as they arise.

Before you let your doctor reach for his or her prescription pad to help you with a medical ailment, talk frankly with him or her about alternative remedies, such as herbs, change in diet, or exercise. If your doctor is unwilling to explore alternative remedies with you, a visit to a naturopathic physician should probably be your next step. Alternative remedies are not just for people who “don't conform to society”; they are for anyone who would like to lead a healthier life in the safest way possible.