The Natural Medicine Cabinet

BY Kali Sinclair TIMEOctober 28, 2014 PRINT

By Kali Sinclair, Organic Lifestyle Magazine

In our family, we haven’t taken antibiotics for more than twenty years. We no longer catch annual or biannual colds and flu. The years of chronic sinus infections and ear infections are long gone. The young children in our family are well, year round. Once a year or so, one may run a mild fever or catch a mild respiratory infection that their immune system handles quickly.

Our first line of defense is diet. No supplement or treatment will take the place of a healthy diet. Raise a child with a truly healthy diet and reap the benefits. Illnesses will be rare or non-existent. No midnight runs to the emergency room. No miserable children struggling to breathe through an asthma attack or croup.

A healthy diet consists of 80% raw produce–fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. All meat should be organic. When we eat at the top of the food chain, we need to be aware of the animal’s diet. Conventionally raised beef, poultry, and pork have been fed antibiotics and GMO foods in addition to being fed an unnatural diet and being raised in diseased, overcrowded conditions. Do not eat conventional dairy; it is tainted with antibiotics and growth hormones. We occasionally eat goat or sheep cheese. We drink and cook with almond and hemp milk.

At the first sign of infection, we use natural herbs, supplements, or foods to give the body what it needs to fight any pathogen. We support the immune system, helping it to do its job.

My home medicine cabinet includes the following items from the kitchen:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Garlic
  • Coconut oil
  • Aloe Vera
  • Ginger

And the following tinctures, herbs, and supplements:

  • Shillington’s Total Tonic
  • Echinacea
  • Thorne Research Formula SF722
  • Spanish Black Radish
  • L-Lysine
  • B-complex vitamins
  • Vitamin C

Raw, organic apple cider vinegar is amazing. Many people swear by it as a preventative, taking shots each day. It is a probiotic, therefore it helps keep the gut healthy. It’s other uses include:

  • Ear infections. At the first sign of an ear infection, lay on your side and use a dropper to fill the ear canal with apple cider vinegar. Catch it early enough, and one dose is all you need. Apple cider vinegar kills bacteria and yeast infections. Some people mix it half and half with alcohol. I use it straight.
  • In addition to ears, apple cider vinegar applied directly will kill fungal infections on the skin, including athlete’s foot. I had not had athlete’s foot in years. When it did pop up, one dose of straight apple cider vinegar and it was gone. Yes, it burned like crazy, but I knew that was yeast giving off toxins as it died screaming.
  • Sore throats. When I first started gargling with apple cider vinegar, it was difficult. If you inhale the fumes, they burn your lungs. I had to practice the art of gargle, spit, and breathe through the nose, not the mouth. Many will tell you to dilute it with water. I use it full strength. Though it burns at first, I have used it with the worst sore throat imaginable. Moments later, the pain is gone. Gargling a few times has always completely cured a sore throat. And as I became healthier through diet, the years of sore throats and respiratory infections were left behind. I haven’t had a serious sore throat in 15 years. If you think you are coming down with a cold or flu, gargle every hour on the hour. You will cut the viral load and aid your immune system in fighting off the pathogen before it gets a good hold on you.
  • Bug bites. Apple cider vinegar is a time honored cure for mosquito bites and bee stings.
  • Take a shot if you have heartburn. It works!
  • Vaginal yeast infections. Use in a douche. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to 8 ounces of filtered water. Personally, I have never used this because I haven’t had the problem since I stopped taking antibiotics. But vaginal yeast infections are Candida, so this makes sense.
  • Dab on pimples and acne to kill bacteria and restore proper pH to the skin.

Garlic is antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic. Who needs antibiotics when we have garlic? At the first sign of illness, chew garlic. It’s not for the faint of heart, I agree. But practice helps. One of my first attempts at natural medicine was to place a sliver of garlic in my ear to treat an ear infection. Don’t do this. It got stuck. When you use garlic, slice it and let it sit for 10 minutes. This is true for cooking as well as medicinal uses. Letting it sit helps to release the allicin, which is the health benefit.

  • Chew garlic for any systemic infection. Better yet, use raw garlic often and abundantly in your diet for preventative care.
  • Garlic can be diced up and used to treat fungal skin infections.
  • Vaginal infections. Insert a garlic clove into the vagina at night. For easier retrieval, sew a string through the core.

Aloe Vera

Few things are as soothing to the skin as aloe vera. You can use it straight from the plant, juice from the bottle, or gel from the jar.

  • Break open a piece of aloe vera and rub over a burn.
  • Spread aloe vera over affected skin.
  • Cuts, scrapes, bug bites, acne. Spread aloe vera over affected area.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is antibacterial and antifungal and it is soothing for any skin issues. You can add essential oils to treat nail fungus or to make bug repellent.

  • Use for oil pulling. Coconut oil is good for the teeth and gums and is reported to whiten the teeth. It can be used as a toothpaste alone or used as a base with other ingredients.
  • Irritated skin. Every variety of irritated skin will benefit from coconut oil. Great for baby bottoms and adult nether regions as well.
  • For more see Health Benefits of Coconut Oil.


One of ginger’s claims to fame is its ability to cure nausea. While garlic is miraculous for cleansing the body of parasites, viruses, and bacteria, it can cause severe nausea. Follow garlic with ginger to calm the stomach.

  • If fresh ginger is taken at the first sign of a migraine, it will stop a migraine before it can take hold. Juice fresh ginger with apples and carrots. Personally, I have never had a migraine, but I have had several friends who suffer from them. Ginger has worked for them every time.
  • Chew ginger or juice it for a ginger shot.
  • For more see The Amazing Power of Ginger.

Spanish Black Radish

  • This is my go to supplement for any suspected bacterial infection. According to printed information, it helps detox the liver and intestines and helps with Candida. But for me, it also knocks any bad bacteria on its ass.

Thorne Research Formula SF722

  • This supplement is Candida’s worst enemy. It work’s great. Enough said.

Dr. Shillington’s Total Tonic

  • At the first sign of a cold, sore throat, sniffles, etc. two droppers of total tonic stops the progression. Sometimes a second day is necessary to eradicate all symptoms. My grandson, today, said his nose was stopped up and he thought he might be getting sick. One dose and all symptoms were gone. One of the main ingredients is garlic. I have to admit, I would rather take a dropper or two than chew on garlic.


  • I hate the taste and I hate the way echinacea makes my tongue feel. But I love the way it boosts the immune system. I hate it enough, though, that I always have it on hand…


  • L-lysine is the go-to supplement for anything wrong in the mouth. Blisters, raw spots, sore tongue–gone in minutes.

B-complex vitamins

  • Grouchy? Trouble sleeping? Moody? Hormonal? Behavioral problems? B complex is a wonder.

Vitamin C

  • I am more likely to take vitamin C at the first sign of a viral infection than anything else. For me, it is an instant fix. It is important to remember that high doses of vitamin C may stop or slow down a virus, but you should never abruptly stop taking it if you have been taking high doses. Titrate down or the virus may come right back.
  • Also see Homemade Vitamin C.

Booty Balm

  • Booty Balm by Lusa Organics was developed for baby bottoms. It is a great salve for any skin irritation from adult nether regions to scrapes, rashes, windburn, etc. Lusa has developed a new salve called De Balm. I haven’t tried it yet, but we are ordering it and I will. Their products are amazing.

There are a few more things I would like to stock–just in case. Though I must admit, I am no longer afraid of viruses or bacterial infections. In years past, the common cold usually morphed into pneumonia or at the very least, asthmatic bronchitis. Now, at the first sign of sniffles I take whatever supplement I choose and gargle and the symptoms are gone. A healthy immune system is a wonderful thing!

I am going to add oil of oregano, tea tree oil, and coptis chinesis to try other powerful microbials. I do have Blood Detox, which I have only taken when detoxing, but I will add to my list of go-to tonics for illness. And I intend to stock up on several other essential oils like peppermint and rosemary to make my own toothpaste and bug repellent. But this is my basic home health/home remedy arsenal. What do you have in your medicine chest?

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*Image of “herbs” via Shutterstock

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