What’s in the Medicine Cabinet?
These days, it’s smart to be prepared for anything and ensure you and your family are well-stocked. It’s a good idea to take a regular inventory of every cabinet, from the kitchen cabinet to the medicine cabinet, making sure they are well-equipped and contain the items you prefer.
In addition to the standard bandages, hydrogen peroxide, and antibiotic ointment for minor cuts and scrapes, here are some ideas of what to stock and keep on hand in your medicine cabinet:
- General immune support: We need to be focusing on our immune system throughout the year, so having the essentials available is important to promote overall wellbeing. Supplements containing extracts such as andrographis and astragalus; vitamins such as vitamin B, C, D, E; minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and zinc; and probiotics are useful to include in your stock.1-4
- An antihistamine: With allergy, sinus congestion, or hives, an antihistamine can help the immune system response to quell and quiet. Histamine is a compound produced in the body (and it also occurs in foods5) as part of the inflammatory-immune response. Too much can lead to symptoms like itching, sneezing, or rashes. Antihistamines can be used on a short-term or acute basis to help alleviate these symptoms; consult your healthcare practitioner to determine what is best for you.
- A cough suppressant: Incessant coughing can be disruptive to our daily activities and when not covered properly could potentially transmit germs to surfaces and others. It may be indicative of other respiratory issues, so it’s worthwhile to be checked by a healthcare practitioner if it’s persistent. If you cough, cover your mouth with a cloth or elbow to prevent the spread of infectious droplets.
- A decongestant: Nasal passages need to stay clear and open for ease of breathing, especially in times of allergies, the common cold, or even a sinus infection. A decongestant can reduce inflammation and constrict the nasal blood vessels, so there is more room for air to flow and mucus to drain.6 Be sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner to know what option is best for you.
- A fever reducer: It’s important to keep an over-the-counter fever reducer on hand. Be sure to consult your healthcare practitioner to know what option is best for you.
- An anti-inflammatory or pain reliever: These are important for mild, occasional pain and inflammation. There can be injuries, breaks, swellings, and redness for a variety of reasons that might get our attention; if necessary, seek medical attention immediately.
Now is the time to take stock of the items in your arsenal. Getting your medicine cabinet in order with some of the basics above will be helpful to ensure you can open the door and find what you’re looking for.
- Hu XY et al. Andrographis paniculata (Chuān Xīn Lián) for symptomatic relief of acute respiratory tract infections in adults and children: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017;12(8):e0181780.
- Su G et al. Oral Astragalus (Huang qi) for preventing frequent episodes of acute respiratory tract infection in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;12:CD011958.
- Gombart AF et al. A review of micronutrients and the immune system-working in harmony to reduce the risk of infection. Nutrients. 2020;12(1).
- Frei R et al. Prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics, and the immune system: experimental data and clinical evidence. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2015;31(2):153-158.
- Gagic M et al. Current trends in detection of histamine in food and beverages. J Agric Food Chem. 2019;67(3):773-783.
- Khattiyawittayakun L et al. Effects of decongestant addition to intranasal corticosteroid for chronic rhinitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2018;8(12):1445-1453.