Saturday, January 25, 2014

Pills vs. Yoga, Tea and the Neti Pot

Photo by RLHyde.
When somebody gets sick in my household, there are two strategies for addressing the illness.

You can see the difference in our medicine cabinet. My husband's shelf is filled with pills, tablets and liquid OTC medicines for combating allergies, insomnia, indigestion, colds, flu, headache, etc.

My shelf stores 10 kinds of tea and a neti pot.  If I could fit my yoga mat in the cupboard, that would be another "prescription" I take for improved health.

[Note: I am not a medical professional. Please consult your doctor and pharmacist for medical advice, and do not stop taking any medications without first consulting with your physician.]

OK. I will confess to three pills on my shelf: 1) aspirin in case of emergency if someone in my house has stroke-like symptoms, 2) antacid tablets, which are calcium carbonate that I take to supplement my calcium intake. I only take one 400 mg tablet a day at the most, 3) and a bottle of migraine-strength ibuprofen when natural remedies don't take effect after several hours.  That usually happens maybe twice a year.

When I start to feel run down, I usually increase my intake of water and tea, drink a little juice and even drive across town to buy an immunity-booster green smoothie (spinach, kale, parsley, pineapple, celery and ginger).  I try to sleep more.

If I have congestion, I use a neti pot to clear my sinuses, being careful to use boiled water (cooled) or distilled water because of the rare-but-dangerous potential of tap water causing brain infections.

My husband, on the other hand, wonders why I just don't medicate for faster relief. I find that the side effects of medication often give me more discomfort than the symptoms of my allergies, cold, or flu.  And I worry that if I take OTC medicine, I'm merely muffling symptoms of a more systemic problem that needs to be addressed at the root of the problem -- which is often caused by lifestyle choices.   

Instead, I think, for example, "Why do I have a headache? Am I dehydrated? Do I have low-blood sugar? Do I need to sleep? Am I in a stressful situation that I need to manage better?"  If I just take the pill, the root cause of my headache usually persists and the headache comes back as soon as the pill wears off. If I look at the bigger picture and address the cause of the headache--lack of water, lack of food, lack of sleep, lack of mindfulness--I feel a greater wholeness.

Yes, I will take antibiotics and  other medications if I really need to. I once got poison ivy all over my torso, face and arms.  I did take steroids then, especially since the rash was crawling towards my eyes.  But if a lifestyle choice or a natural remedy is available to soothe a physical complaint, I choose that route first.

Do you people in your house have different views on how to address illness?  Do some pretend they are not sick at all? Do some go to the doctor's office for every minor complaint? Do some use natural remedies? Do some have a tried-and-true OTC medication they always keep on hand?  


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  1. Hi Karen! My husband and I are pretty much on the the same page about our ways to address illness...including our neti pot! We usually have a mix of both natural and over-the-counter remedies that have worked for us over the years depending upon what is going on at the time. But we also believe that staying happy and reducing stress is the best health remedy of all! ~Kathy

  2. This makes me laugh Karen because you are describing my family exactly. The only medication that I usually ever take is for a UTI and even that I try to prevent with cranberry juice and healthy foods. I was in hospital once for one and now I don't let it go very long. Other than that, I'll sit with a headache for a day because I feel like it's my body telling me to rest. For colds, I swear by saline nasal spray instead of decongestant. My husband on the other hand has a bottle of everything it seems on his side of the bathroom. Whatever works for a person, I guess. I also think that daily exercise and healthy eating can prevent so many things.