Making the switch to more natural products can sometimes be a bit overwhelming when you don’t know where to start. To make things a little easier, one of the best places to start is your medicine cabinet. Here, we can discover more natural alternatives for what you already have. We’ll look at why the alternative is better and what it aims to target to provide you with a better understanding when looking for natural alternatives in general.
Supplement Alternative: Magnesium
Symptom Relief: Headaches, Migraines and Constipation
Headaches/Migraines – These are common, “every day”-type symptoms that we all need relief from every now and again. Instead of reaching for your usual over-the-counter remedy, try magnesium bisglycinate in 800mg. This works to dilate the blood vessels, which allows for better blood flow and circulation. Also, take a moment to listen to your body. Notice if you are holding tension, specifically in your jaw (i.e. clenched jaw or grinding teeth). If you are, try relaxing your jawline — this will help relieve the tension you are feeling.
Through lab work, we typically find that people who suffer from migraines tend to have lower levels of magnesium in their blood and tissues. Supplements may help reduce the frequency of migraines.
Personal Experience: I used to be an avid CrossFit-goer and was working out pretty hard four to five days a week. Over time, I started to notice little flashes of light and pressure in my head accompanied by mild headaches — I could not find any relief from it. As I began taking magnesium bisglycinate in 1000mg, I found it began to relax me and ease the persistent head pressure.
Fun Fact: We use this product in clinical nutrition for most neurological issues, including concussions! Low levels of magnesium have also been thought to be linked to biological actions in the body such as depression, mind and mood functions, as well as energy and sleep.
Constipation – Magnesium citrate is an excellent option to help move your bowels. It usually takes 2400mg to get the bowels moving again, and you may need a little more depending on the level of deficiency you have. You can add extra if needed, but once you notice loose bowels, start lessening the dose a bit.
Sienna is another great option to assist with constipation symptoms. This option does take a little bit of time with about 12 to 16 hours to begin its work. From the moment you take it, do not continue to take more if you do not notice a bowel movement. I recommend starting the dose at 1000mg.
If your symptoms are more severe, now we’re looking at enema options, and you can find these kits available at your local drug store. Typically, water will be okay for constipation, but if you are looking for added benefits, a coffee enema will detox the liver and ease pain by dumping the portal vein which only takes 15 minutes.
BONUS TIP: Add fiber into the diet! This is great for the digestive system and keeping you regulated. You can also add magnesium into your routine — you want to shoot for anywhere between 20 to 25mg daily into your diet.
Supplement Alternative: Stinging Nettle Leaf 400mg, Albizia, Eye Bright, Quercetin 400mg
Symptom Relief: Allergies
For allergy relief, I recommend a Neti pot with salt and some colloidal silver for sinus infections. Typically you’re going to need a minimum dose of 15 to 30 drops twice a day.
This type of remedy is very effective, but you also want to look into what is the underlying cause. Typically, it is a histamine overload which may mean you’re probably in need of detoxification through the liver or kidneys.
I recommend considering a liver detox, if needed. This usually involves a 14- to 21-day cleanse with herbs to help detoxify the liver. You may also want to consider removing three common types of food sensitivities that cause inflammation: gluten, dairy and nightshades. The cleanse should consist of whole foods such as meat, vegetables, good fats and healthy, starchy carbs such as butternut squash, squash, carrots, root vegetables, etc.
Supplement Alternative: Turmeric Magnesium Bisglycinate, Massage Gun, Infrared Sauna, White Willow Bark
Symptom Relief: Sore Muscles
There are many things that can help with this issue. The latest trend is utilizing a massage gun, which can break up lactic acid in your muscles and relieve tension — a great invention for sore muscles! I highly recommend this product if you are experiencing neck pain, trap pain, low-back pain or leg pain.
Turmeric in 200-300mg naturally decreases inflammation and restores the body to homeostasis, aka balance. This is wonderful to take post-exercise or with the onset of feeling soreness in your muscles, and it works best when taken consistently. I recommend taking this for at least three months.
Magnesium bisglycinate (aren’t you loving how versatile this product is?) – Clinical nutritionists joke around and call this supplement nature’s muscle relaxer. The reason is that, when patients are put on this product, it will physically relax their muscles. For soreness, you want to aim somewhere between 500-600mg.
Infrared Sauna – Shoutout to Hotworx of Lakeline in Austin! This is where I like to go to relieve my muscle aches. The benefit of an infrared sauna is that it penetrates three inches deep into the musculoskeletal structure and can help to relieve pain in joints and muscles. One might notice this effect almost immediately upon leaving the sauna. You typically need to spend 20 to 30 minutes to notice the results and ensure you have a light or glistening sweat on your face.
White Willow Bark – This is also a great option to ease sore muscles and is actually considered nature’s aspirin!
Supplement Alternative: Activated Charcoal & Digestive Enzymes
Symptom Relief: Upset Stomach
If you experience gas and bloating, charcoal and digestive enzymes are a go-to! If you tend to feel an aversion when you eat meat, such as “too full” or nauseous, try to keep some hydrochloric acid on hand. This is an enzyme that helps break down protein, therefore allowing for better absorption in the bloodstream and more adequate lab values.
Activated charcoal at the dosage of 1200mg may also be helpful! This charcoal is created by heating common charcoal to make it more porous. The extra spaces in the charcoal trap gas molecules, reducing the gas that causes bloating.
Supplement Alternative: Bitters
Symptom Relief: Gas and bloating
That’s right, the item you can add into your alcoholic drinks can actually assist in relieving bloating. Next time you find yourself with a bloated stomach after enjoying a night out, try ordering seltzer water with bitters (it’s a secret trick)!
Supplement Alternative: Ginger
Symptom Relief: Joint pain such as knees, hips, shoulders, etc.
Also a great component to add to your diet, ginger is known to increase circulation in joints. It can be taken as an herbal supplement, and it is best to aim for around 200mg. The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can also help relieve pain and improve joint function in people who have arthritis. Compounds in ginger function as a COX-2 inhibitor, which is similar to how common arthritis medications work to relieve pain.
FUN TIP: An added benefit of ginger is that it helps with digestion. If you’re feeling indigestion or gas and bloating, you can give ginger a try at the same dose to relieve your symptoms,
Supplement Alternative: Bentonite Clay
Symptom Relief: Diarrhea
Bentonite clay – Okay y’all, this stuff is pretty amazing! I suggest starting with two tablespoons and wait a few hours. If diarrhea has not stopped, try another two tablespoons. This works to solidify liquid matter in the intestines and can also aid in healthy bowel movements while removing toxins at the same time!
Anytime a patient or I have experienced diarrhea, we will use this product for quick relief. In the case of diarrhea, it’s imperative to find a quick solution because you are losing electrolytes. A lot of over-the-counter medications can be toxic due to the added chemicals, flavors and colors.
FUN FACT: An added benefit of bentonite clay is that it also absorbs toxins from the colon. In the “natural world,” we refer to it as a binder, meaning it binds to external toxins and helps to excrete them in your bowel movement. No detox symptoms either!
We love pointing people in the direction of natural alternatives, but an important concept to remember is that diet plays a huge role in feeling better and recovery. Removing food sensitivities from your diet makes a world of difference. You can get tested via IGG blood tests, your allergist or with a functional medicine practitioner. The most common food sensitivities to keep in mind are dairy, gluten, soy, corn, beef, peanuts, white sugar and nightshades (white potatoes, chili peppers, paprika, spicy foods, jalapeño peppers and eggplant).
Stephanie Kuehne, A.C.N., is a clinical nutritionist who has been treating patients through a holistic-focused care approach. Currently, she owns Ooh Wow Nutrition and, with her own personal experience with weight, hormone imbalance and cystic acne, helps her patients utilize functional nutrition and believes that nature is the medicine cabinet we all should utilize more often. Stephanie enjoys trying new workout experiences and considers herself and her husband (who is a chiropractor) to be self-proclaimed “health geeks!”