Proceed with caution when using OTC drugs

Illustration by Kennedy Conway | The Signal

Honey, ginger, a gallon of water, a hot bath or a solid nap are on the list of natural alternatives I lived by growing up. My mom rarely gave me Advil or Tylenol; it was always a plethora of remedies. 

We are used to having a bit of skepticism when it comes to using alternative healing methods, but we have no problems popping pills with a long list of side effects. It is time to break down the myths and appreciate natural remedies over over-the-counter prescriptions. 

Nothing about natural medicines sounds ideal for feeling better. Most things are usually lying around the house and used for other things. 

Honey for a sore throat is one worth noting. Honey has polyphenols or antioxidant compounds that calm an irritated throat. Instead of singing “a spoonful of sugar,” you may find yourself singing a different tune: “a spoonful of honey.” 

Another great and simple home remedy is a hot bath or shower. Increased humidity can thin out mucus, making it easier to breathe. If you let your water get hot enough, you can create a humidifier in your bathroom. It can create relief and also calm you while you have a cold or allergies. 

There are also considerable benefits to do doing the one thing we already do: sleep. According to a study done at Tulane University, adults with the healthiest sleep patterns have a 42% lower chance of heart failure. This fact may not feel like something worth mentioning, but when we are no longer able to live off caffeine and four hours of sleep, our bodies will begin to break down. 

There will come the point that we are thrown medications and doctor’s visits and will not have an option. It may seem normal with how many advertisements and over-the-counter medicines we see or use daily, but medicines are sometimes unnecessary and harmful over the counter. 

Forty thousand metric tons of Aspirin are produced annually worldwide; clearly, there is a demand for the drug. However, Aspirin has serious side effects, including liver failure and gastrointestinal bleeding. 

Another common over-the-counter drug is sleeping medicine, with nine million U.S. adults using them. However, sleeping aids contain antihistamines, which can lead to seizures or arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat).

Americans spent $26.5 billion on over-the-counter drugs in 2020. We are throwing money into a system that sometimes does not even benefit us. Over-the-counter medications are suitable for a short-term solution if used as instructed. Unfortunately, we do not take the time to care for our bodies and end up using over-the-counter drugs too much or not as we should. 

There are many alternatives to having an easy fix for ailments such as headaches, hangovers, colds or joint pain. If we took the time to research what our body deserves and how to serve it, we could save a lot of pain and money. 

Remember, just a spoonful of honey.