Isn’t There a Pill for That?

Have any of y’all reached a boiling point with doctors? No? Only me? There are tons of fabulous doctors out there, and I see some of them. But I’ve fired my share. (By fired, I mean muttered under my breath all the way to my car and refused to see them again.)

My biggest pet peeve with them is their tendency to turn straight to a prescription to eliminate a symptom I’ve described.

Hold your horses, Doc. Can we do some digging first to find out what causes the symptom?

My major problem is I’m a horrible pill taker.

First, I forget about them somewhere around the middle of day two, and consumption is spotty after that. Kind of hard for the pill to do its thing if it’s sitting in the little amber-colored bottle.

Second, if there is a side-effect, I’m going to experience it. Once I notice the effect, it’s all I can think about, which probably makes it worse. I’m a sympathy vomiter. The mere suggestion of throwing up makes it real.

So I turn to the internet. I can visualize all my doctor friends shaking their heads as they listen to me describe my fascination with and reliance on alternative medicine solutions. I know. I get it. Why would I believe my neighbor’s great-aunt’s solution over theirs? Theirs, that took many expensive years of medical learning and training to come by.

It comes down to this. I’ve lived decades in this body, and I pay attention to its signals. And when my doctor brushes that off as he reaches for his prescription pad, I get annoyed. So I’m going to explore first, thank you very much. If none of my alternative methods work, then I’ll come listen to what they offer.

Full disclosure: My experiment with essential oils once turned a basic UTI into a full-on, raging bladder infection. Antibiotics to the rescue. I acknowledge I don’t always make the best choice.

But I do have success stories I want to share with you. Some are downright weird and utterly inexplicable, but effective. At least, they were for me.

For rashes and bug bites, I use lavender essential oil. Basically, if it stings or itches, it gets doused. My five-year-old grandson disturbed a wasp nest in our treehouse. His screams brought me running. Angry insects circled with menace, and his tears told me he’d already been stung. I grabbed him and ran to the house. Four angry welts raised on his leg. I rubbed lavender oil on them, and within minutes (almost before I could screw the lid on the bottle and put it back on the shelf), he hopped down, tears gone, and headed back outside. I’ve been stung by a wasp before. The sting has the impact of a hammer. The rapid improvement in how he felt stunned me.

I also use lavender for burns. Blisters from the oven, or pain from a sunburn — both get lavender. Relief comes almost immediately.

I have another essential oil miracle. I complained to my doctor about muscle weakness, insomnia, dry skin—the list went on and on. She tested my thyroid. Turns out, it was hyperactive. My T3/T4 numbers should have been in a reference range of 1.0 – 4.0. Mine registered at 0.01. (“Hyperactive” and low numbers seem counterintuitive, but it makes sense when they explain it.) She referred me to a specialist. He wanted to do an iodine test to see how quickly my body processed the thyroid hormones. When I called to make the appointment for the test, the nurse explained his plan was to radiate my thyroid, basically killing off part of it. Problem was, if he killed off too much, the damage was permanent, leaving me with hypothyroidism which would require daily medication for the rest of my life. (Please refer back to the fifth paragraph.) Not only that, but I would be radioactive for the next two weeks. I’d have to eat off of different plates, wash my clothes separately, sleep in a different bed, not hold my grandbabies. No way, Jose. Off to the internet I went.

I found an essential oil recipe and rolled the mixture onto my throat three or four times a day. I planned to use the oils for six months, then let my doctor run the blood test again. However, I visited her for an unrelated issue three months later, and she asked me about the results from the specialist. I told her I was trying the oils first (hyperthyroidism wouldn’t kill me; I had time to explore). She cocked a skeptical eyebrow and challenged me to take the test right then and there. I shrugged. Okay. Let’s do it.

The next day she texted me, in all caps, with a bunch of exclamation points. “YOUR THYROID IS COMPLETELY NORMAL!!!”

Score another one for the alternative methods.

I ran across another one on TikTok. She said she oils her belly button at night before going to bed. According to her, rubbing oil in her navel will correct dry skin. (A handful of Indian women concur; I searched TikTok for verification that this was a thing.)

I have a container of whipped tallow, rendered from beef fat by a friend and scented with essential oils that I’ve been rubbing on my feet. I tried it in my belly button. My shins used to look like fish scales. Now, although my skin isn’t perfectly hydrated, it’s much better looking. I still see crepey wrinkles, but the scales are gone. And the insides of my leggings no longer look like my legs have dandruff when I take them off at night.

The weirdest cure came from my People’s Pharmacy book. Somewhere mid-menopause, I started experiencing charley horses in my calves in the middle of the night. The pain woke me, and I’d lurch from bed to stand and stretch the muscle. Sometimes it cramped so hard, I had to press my leg down with my hand on my knee to get relief. I dreaded falling asleep because I knew pain severe enough to yank me from slumber lurked right around the corner.

I told my doctor it must be hormone-related, because the only other time I’d experienced this problem was when I was pregnant. He told me hormones don’t cause cramps and prescribed a muscle relaxer.

I coached the swim team at my high school at the time and woke each morning at 4:00 a.m. No way was I taking a muscle relaxer every night. I’d never wake up. And did we not care to find out WHY my legs cramped?

Off to my favorite alternative medicine book I went—Best Choices from the People’s Pharmacy. I tried several things listed before I found one that worked. The rejects?

Eat a teaspoonful of yellow mustard when the cramps hit. Yuck. No effect.

Sip an ounce of pickle juice. Double-yuck. No results.

Take magnesium. Ho-hum.

Drink tonic water. Nothing.

The one that worked, immediately, and for evermore—place an unwrapped bar of soap under the bottom bedsheet, but don’t use Dove or Dial. The small flat bars you get at a hotel work perfectly. I’m totally mystified about how or why this works, but I never had another cramp again. So, take that, stupid muscle relaxers.

What weird thing works for you? I love learning these home remedies, and I’m eager to know yours. Book five in my San Antonio series will have Lawrence training to become a doctor. Since we’ll be in the 1870s, he won’t have access to our modern solutions. I need your answers for my research. So hit me up! I’ll draw from all the names who reply and will send one lucky winner a copy of the People’s Pharmacy book. Hopefully, it will bring you answers like it has for me.

14 Replies to “Isn’t There a Pill for That?”

  1. Got a mosquito bite? Sprinkle some meat tenderizer on a drop of water, then rub the bite area with the magical mixture. It’ll immediately stop itching and the swelling will go down.

  2. This really works as I’ve done it for years!
    If you can’t sleep because of a bad cough, then simply coat the bottom of your feet with Vicks Vapor Rub, put on some comfy sox and you’ll soon be asleep.

    The only down side is if you have to get up to pee, you need to reapply the Vicks.

    1. I’ve read you should wash the affected area as soon as possible with Dawn dish soap to break up the oils (which are what cause the allergic reaction). Lavender oil may stop the itching. Vitamin C is said to have an anti-histamine effect. The herb Urtice dioica, stinging nettle, also has an anti-histamine effect.

  3. When the kids get sick (and I remember to do this), we put onions or potatoes on the bottoms of their feet at night, with socks to hold them on. It lessens the symptoms.

    I’m all about alternatives!

    1. I’ve heard of that! Also sitting a cut-in-half onion on a plate next to the bed to “catch” the germs/viruses as they’re breathed out. Here is a recipe from my friend in Mexico.
      Chop a medium onion.
      Squeeze the juice from 8 – 10 limes.
      Add 2 tbsp of honey.
      Mix in a jar and let rest for 12 hours. The onion will release its juice.
      Press a spoon into the mixture to gather a mouthful and swallow as needed.
      It acts as an expectorant and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
      It sounds like it will taste awful, but it’s actually not bad.

  4. At the first sign of a sore throat, I grab some pineapple juice. A couple of those small cans usually do the trick. If I don’t get the pineapple juice in time I make myself up a tea with 1 cup hot water, mix in: 2T honey, 2 T apple cider vinegar, 2 T lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon, mix well and drink while hot. Sore throat is gone within the hour

  5. Steep sliced ginger for a tea. Great for cough and sore throat. It has a spicy feel on your throat and has lots of antiviral powers. Add honey and lime if you like

  6. I’m sorry I don’t have any natural remedies to give you but I would love to win this book to learn up some! I have become recently become more interested in natural remedies rather than pills. As a matter fact I’m getting ready to see if I can find something to help my kitty with allergies Other than a medication that harms his liver. Thank you so much for the chance and good luck!

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