What to Keep in Your Integrative Medicine Cabinet

One of my favorite things to do is to be super prepared (just ask my husband!). This translates to having lots of first aid kits and a fully stocked medicine cabinet (or two). 🙂

Last October, my son started catching all of the preschool bugs (and bringing them home). I wasn’t quite prepared for preschool bugs, so not only did my little one keep getting sick, but then I kept getting sick from caring for him during those times!

I made a resolution to be more prepared this year, so this past September, I made a calendar appointment for myself to restock my medicine cabinet in preparation for kindergarten bugs.

I’ve been a pharmacist for over 17 years now, and my medicine cabinets initially started out with lots of common medications you would find at a typical pharmacy – but over the years, they have evolved!

As a trained pharmacist, I was initially skeptical of natural and alternative medicine for a long time. I still remember when my integrative doctor first suggested that I get tested for adrenal fatigue – I “Googled” the term and found a “reputable source” that adrenal fatigue was a made-up disorder and did not exist.

Being a skeptical pharmacist, I put off testing my adrenals – I had just ventured into the world of alternative medicine, and was always afraid of people trying to take advantage of me and take my money, not realizing that they were simply trying to help.

But then I got to a point where I was just so exhausted and irritable, despite taking thyroid medications and following a gluten-free diet.

I started talking to Carter Black, RPh, my compounding pharmacist, about the symptoms I was experiencing, and he suggested that I have my adrenals tested. Mr. Black had specialized in hormones for many years and told me that the interventions for adrenal fatigue did indeed work well for many of his patients.

Finally it stuck: maybe it was hearing it from a fellow pharmacist, or maybe because he didn’t have any adrenal test kits to sell to me, that I decided to try it out.

Sure enough, I had an advanced stage of adrenal fatigue, and the recommended treatments helped me feel tremendously better!

Since then, I’ve been much more open to natural medicine, and I’ve seen the profound impact it has had on me personally, as well as on my clients, and now, my own family.

Over the years, I learned that many OTC medications, while generally safe when taken on occasion, contain ingredients that can harm the liver, damage the gut, and pose other risks to our health. [1] Some even have the potential to be abused.

Even if someone isn’t intentionally abusing OTC medications, many people rely on them almost daily to manage pain, acid reflux, and other conditions… and long-term, some of these products may actually make the problem worse.

These are all good reasons to seek natural alternatives, and some people simply prefer a more natural approach to their health!

Since I first dipped my toes into the world of natural medicine, I’ve worked hard on building my natural medicine cabinet. I love finding alternatives to conventional products that have less harmful ingredients and fewer side effects. These are staples that nearly everyone can use, to replace or accompany your existing medicine cabinet.

I hope that you will find this information helpful for you and your family! Also, please reply in the comments below to let me know what you keep in your medicine cabinet.

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • The natural alternatives I recommend for everyday ailments like headaches, burns, stomach aches, pain, bruising, and more
  • How to use each product and my recommended dosages
  • Any precautions or contraindications to be aware of

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal can provide helpful relief from food poisoning by binding and eliminating the toxins that are emitted from pathogenic organisms. It also binds to other pathogens in the gut, and to toxins like mold and heavy metals.

I love to have this on hand for food poisoning, or accidental exposure to a reactive food sensitivity (like gluten). Activated charcoal helps minimize reactions from your food and environment, because of its binding properties. I usually keep a few capsules in my purse when I travel.

How to Use

Take 1-3 capsules of activated charcoal after exposure to a reactive food, or if you suspect food poisoning. I like Integrative Therapeutics Activated Charcoal.

Additionally, it can be used after you may, ahem, overindulge in wine or other types of alcoholic beverages. In this case, take 1-3 capsules before going to bed.


Keep in mind that activated charcoal binds EVERYTHING, so don’t take it with other supplements and medications you would like to absorb. Activated charcoal can also slow down GI motility, leading to acid reflux and constipation, so please think twice about using it if you already have these conditions on board. I also recommend supplementing with magnesium citrate whenever you take activated charcoal. Just be sure that you take the supplements at least 4 hours apart to prevent impairments in absorption.


Adaptogenic herbs support the body’s ability to deal with stressors. Most adaptogens have been used for thousands of years in Eastern medical practices, such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda.

In the 1940s, Dr. Nikolai Lazarev defined adaptogens as “an agent that raises the body’s ability to resist stress by countering undesired stressors, whether physical, chemical, emotional, or biological.” In 1998, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defined an adaptogen as a “new kind of metabolic regulator that has been proven to help in environmental adaptation and to prevent external harms.” [2]

Adaptogens are thought to work by normalizing the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, which may suppress the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, as well as thyroid function, where it interrupts the conversion of T4 to T3, when one has adrenal dysfunction. [3] You can learn more about the HPA axis and adrenals here in the linked article.

How to Use

A few of my favorite adaptogens are ashwagandha, rhodiola, eleuthero, American ginseng, and licorice. You can take these individually, or you can take a blend like Adrenal Support, which contains a combination of these adaptogens and other stress-supporting nutrients. I recommend starting with 1 capsule per day and gradually increasing your dose to 3 capsules.

Adaptogens can be helpful for adrenal dysfunction, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, mood swings, and feeling down. They can be taken proactively to manage stress; or if you know you have a busy or stressful time coming up in life, you can use them as needed, though their benefits tend to be cumulative.


Please use extra caution and speak with your practitioner before taking adaptogens if you are taking medications (in particular, those associated with blood clotting, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels), are taking thyroid hormones, are pregnant or nursing, or you have pre-existing health conditions.

Do not use if you are allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients in this supplement.

Note regarding thyroid hormones: This product is not recommended for those with hyperthyroidism, as ashwagandha has been found to increase thyroid hormones. As recommended with any lifestyle interventions, individuals with hypothyroidism and normal thyroid function should monitor their levels of thyroid hormones while taking this supplement, and test thyroid hormone levels every 30-90 days to see if a medication adjustment is needed.

Additionally, I don’t recommend adaptogenic blends containing licorice to be used if you have high blood pressure.


An herb that grows in Europe and the United States, arnica has been used in homeopathic medicine for centuries. When applied topically, it can help soothe inflammation, swelling, bruising, and pain. [4] It can be used for chronic conditions like osteoarthritis, or for acute injuries. I’ve found it especially useful to have on hand with an active toddler running around the house! If my son has a “boo-boo” or if I get one myself, arnica is the first thing I reach for!

How to Use

Applying Boiron Arnicare Gel on the affected area after bumps and falls, helps bring down swelling and reduces the size of the bump or bruise. Studies have also shown it to be supportive in people who are recovering from surgeries. [5] It can ease pain and can also reduce the discoloration that comes with bruising.

Arnica can also be ingested orally, but only in highly diluted homeopathic preparations. The herb itself can be poisonous if ingested. I like Boiron Arnica Montana 30C Meltaway Pellets, which you simply dissolve under your tongue. They’re great for injuries, overuse, or soreness from workouts. Follow package instructions.

Arnica is an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for minor injuries, aches, and pains that I love to have in my natural medicine cabinet.


Do not use arnica if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Don’t take oral arnica if you’re on blood-thinning medications such as warfarin. [6]

Do not use arnica gels or creams on open wounds or broken skin. I always recommend doing a patch test of arnica before applying to a large area of skin, as a small number of people experience contact dermatitis. If you’re allergic to sunflowers or marigolds, you’re likely allergic to arnica, too.


Berberine is an amazing, multi-faceted herb. Berberine contains compounds called alkaloids that have broad-spectrum antimicrobial and antiparasitic properties, and it can be helpful in addressing gut issues such as SIBO, mold, and H. pylori[7]

In addition to its impact on gut infections, this plant alkaloid is known to support blood sugar metabolism and normal insulin sensitivity. In one study, one gram of berberine per day lowered fasting blood sugar by 20 percent in people with diabetes, which is comparable to a commonly prescribed diabetes medication. [8]

I keep berberine on hand to help support balanced blood sugar, especially while dining out or on special occasions, like gluten-free pizza night, to reduce my absorption of carbs!

How to Use

I recently added Berberine to the Rootcology product line, and I’ve also recommended Metagenics Candibactin BR to clients who are looking for the gut-supportive benefits of berberine. For blood sugar balance, take 1 capsule before a meal. To clear infections, take 1 capsule, 3 times per day, for 60 days.


Consult with a physician before use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do not take if taking the following medications: anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs, antidiabetic drugs, antihypertensive drugs, blood thinners, CNS depressants, cyclosporine, cytochrome P450 substrates (2C9, 2D6, 3A4), dextromethorphan, losartan, metformin, midazolam, pentobarbital, and/or tacrolimus.


Biocidin Botanicals makes a few great gut-focused products that I like to keep in my natural medicine cabinet, and their liquid formula is one of them. This formula combines herbs and essential oils that can support gut health by clearing away unwanted microbes, and supporting beneficial organisms. It also supports healthy detoxification and the immune system. I use this for clearing out gut infections, and also for the prevention and slowing down of the progression of a cold, and other illnesses, such as an ear infection. I love that this is a tasty and very potent product, so I can even give a drop or two to my son when needed.

How to Use

Biocidin comes as a liquid, a capsule, or a liposomal formula. The Biocidin liquid formula is super potent, you only need 1-2 drops for it to be effective. It tastes great, so what I do is add it to a glass of water or other beverage. It was a staple in my home through the cold and flu season during my son’s years in preschool!


These Biocidin products are not recommended for use during pregnancy. Discontinue use should adverse reactions occur.


Electrolytes are minerals that play a critical role in the body. Through a biochemical process, electrolytes become ions (an atom or molecule with an electrical charge) that can conduct electrical signals in the body. These signals create communication and function within nerves and muscles, as the electrolytes move in or out of cells. Electrolytes are important for fluid balance, muscle contraction, and blood pressure, and play other roles in the body as well.

How to Use

I like to use electrolytes daily to support hydration, but they’re especially important if you’re sweating a lot due to exercise or sauna sessions, or during and after bouts of diarrhea. They can be helpful in easing symptoms from the occasional hangover, too. 🙂

My favorite options are Rootcology Electrolyte Blend, Nuun, LMNT, and Ultima.


Electrolyte supplements may not be recommended for those with sodium-sensitive hypertension, those with a pacemaker, and those with high sodium or potassium levels. Do not use if you are allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients in the supplement.

Consult with a doctor before use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

DO NOT TAKE if taking the following medications: ACE inhibitors, aminoglycoside antibiotics, anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs; antihypertensive drugs, antidiabetic drugs, angiotensin receptor blockers, antacids, bisphosphonates, blood thinners, calcium channel blockers, corticosteroids, didanosine, digoxin, insulin, levodopa/carbidopa, lithium, potassium-sparing diuretics, quinolone antibiotics, skeletal muscle relaxants, sodium phosphates, sulfonylureas, tetracycline antibiotics, or tolvaptan.


GABA is our naturally-occurring neurotransmitter that is known to produce calmness, reduce tension, and reduce anxiety.

Benzodiazepine medications (that produce central nervous system depression, such as Valium and Xanax) and anti-anxiety drugs target this pathway and are very effective at reducing anxiety. Unfortunately, they are habit forming and produce unwanted side effects.

Luckily, GABA is available as a supplement.

When I first heard about using GABA orally as a supplement, I didn’t think it would be helpful because the molecule size is too large to cross the blood-brain barrier – but alas, neurotransmitters are also produced in our gut, and thanks to the intricate feedback system within our body, taking GABA orally still sends signals to our brain and body to relax.

According to Trudy Scott, who specializes in anxiety, chewable forms tend to work better, as they are more readily absorbed through our mucous membranes.

How to Use

I keep GABA on hand to support sleep and my mood. GABA can work wonders for occasional anxiety, such as the anxiety that someone may experience before a flight, or the night before a big test. I personally use GABA if I have too much caffeine too late in the day and feel restless at bedtime, as it can help me calm down and get to sleep and stay asleep.

Some GABA supplements that I like include GABA Calm by Source Naturals, PharmaGABA by Designs for Health, and GABA by Pure Encapsulations. Follow package directions for each supplement.


If pregnant or lactating, consult your physician before taking GABA.

People who are low in B6/P5P, may find themselves feeling more anxious when using GABA.

Garlic Oil

Garlic is another natural compound that provides a host of health benefits. Allicin, the main active compound of garlic, has been shown to possess antimicrobial and antiviral properties, as well as be a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound. [9] It can be used to treat gut infections, yeast overgrowth, and SIBO.

I keep garlic oil in my natural medicine cabinet to support immunity and respiratory health during cold and flu season, or when I’m traveling.

How to Use

I recommend Rootcology’s Garlic Oil at a dose of 1 softgel per day, and only taking garlic oil for one to three months at a time.


Consult with a physician before use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

DO NOT TAKE if taking the following medications: anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs, antidiabetic drugs, antihypertensive drugs, atazanavir, blood thinners, cytochrome P450 substrates (2E1, 3A4), isoniazid, protease inhibitors, saquinavir, and/or tacrolimus.

Garlic Mullein Oil

Garlic and mullein flowers infused in olive oil is an age-old remedy for earaches and ear infections. It has been shown to exhibit antimicrobial activity against the microorganisms that cause ear infections, and studies have shown it to be just as effective as anesthetic ear drops used for pain. [10]

I keep this in my natural medicine cabinet for any kind of earache or potential ear infection, especially since I have a young son. I love that this can help resolve ear infections, as antibiotic resistance is becoming an increasingly large concern.

How to Use

Use 1-2 drops of Herb Pharm for Kids in the affected ear.


Do not use garlic mullein oil if you have a perforated eardrum or if you are allergic to any of the ingredients. If you experience any irritation or discomfort after using mullein garlic oil, discontinue use.

GI Detox

This product contains activated charcoal (discussed earlier) along with a few other binders and gut-supporting ingredients. It helps eliminate unwanted microbes and toxins. This can be used in the event of food poisoning, accidental ingestion of a food you’re sensitive to, or for binding mycotoxins and other pathogenic gut infections.

How to Use

Take 1-2 capsules of GI Detox after exposure to a reactive food, or in the event of food poisoning. If trying to clear mycotoxins or infections, take it between meals and away from supplements, or before bed.


These Biocidin products are not recommended for use during pregnancy. Discontinue use should adverse reactions occur. Take GI Detox at least 4 hours away from other supplements and medications. Please note, this formulation does include activated charcoal and may be constipating.


Glycine is a non-essential amino acid, that also helps to improve and maximize sleep.

Taking a glycine supplement at bedtime can help with creating a more refreshing, deeper rest.

A recent study found that glycine subjectively and objectively improved sleep quality in people who suffered from insomnia. The effects of glycine on daytime sleepiness, fatigue, and performances in sleep-restricted healthy subjects, were evaluated during this study. Sleep was restricted to 25 percent less than the usual sleep time, for three consecutive nights. Before bedtime, 3 grams of glycine were ingested, and sleepiness and fatigue were evaluated using the visual analog scale (VAS) and a questionnaire. In subjects given glycine, the VAS data showed a significant reduction in fatigue and a tendency toward reduced sleepiness. These observations were confirmed with the questionnaire, indicating that glycine improves daytime sleepiness and fatigue induced by acute sleep restriction. [11]

I use glycine if I need to be up at night with my son (for example, if he’s sick), or if I have to stay up late/wake up early and need to maximize my sleep.

How to Use

I recommend Designs for Health Glycine Powder at a dose of 3 grams per day, to make sleep more efficient.


If you are pregnant or lactating‚ have any health condition or are taking any medication‚ consult your health professional before use.

Please note, glycine can cause restlessness in the presence of a B6/P5P deficiency.


Sleep troubles can happen for a number of reasons, like during travel and jet lag. When this happens, or when I feel like my circadian rhythm needs some support, I’ll use melatonin to help reset my internal body clock. This can also be hugely helpful for shift workers who follow an alternative sleep schedule.

How to Use

I recommend Herbatonin, which is a plant-derived form of melatonin. It has 3 mg of melatonin per capsule. For shift work, take 1-2 capsules 30 minutes before desired sleep (or as recommended by your healthcare provider), and limit light exposure after taking.

If you are taking the melatonin for jet lag, upon arriving in a new time zone, try to stay awake all day to mirror the new time zone sleep cycle. Take 1-2 capsules about half an hour before bedtime. Continue for the following 3-4 nights, gradually reducing the dose.


Please note that Herbatonin is intended for short-term use of 3 to 5 days to realign your circadian rhythm and sleep cycle.

HP Restore

HP Restore is a product from Rootcology that contains a blend of botanical extracts that support a healthy gastric microbial balance and help maintain a healthy gastric lining. This formula can be helpful for occasional heartburn, bloating, or upset stomach, so I like to keep some in my natural medicine cabinet at all times.

How to Use

I recommend taking 2 capsules, twice per day, between meals. It can be taken preventatively – for example, before going out to eat.


Do not take if you have high blood pressure, or are allergic to mastic trees.

Consult with a physician before use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

DO NOT TAKE if taking the following medications: alkylating agents, aluminum, antihypertensive drugs, antitumor antibiotics, blood thinners, cisplatin, corticosteroids, cytochrome P450 2B6, 2C19, 2C8, 2C9, 3A4 substrates; digoxin, diuretic drugs, estrogens, fluphenazine, indinavir, levothyroxine, loop diuretics, midazolam, P-glycoprotein substrates, and/or paclitaxel.

Hydrogen Peroxide

You’ve probably used hydrogen peroxide to clean and disinfect wounds, but it can also be used to support the health of your ears!

It can also be useful for ear infections and according to my mom, even some cases of viral “head colds.”

How to Use

If you are prone to outer ear infections, using hydrogen peroxide drops when you feel the first sign of an infection can possibly help you avoid the need for antibiotic drops. Using drops in your ear at the first sign of a head cold may also be helpful for preventing progression of the illness.

I mix equal parts water with hydrogen peroxide, and put the mixture in a dropper bottle. Add a few drops to the affected ear, leave in for a few seconds and up to one minute. You’ll likely hear fizzing and bubbling – this is normal. Tip the solution out of your ear, and allow it to dry.


While generally safe, if the hydrogen peroxide mixture irritates the skin or causes any pain, discontinue use.


While ibuprofen (Advil) is still considered an NSAID, I prefer to use this as a pain reliever and fever reducer over acetaminophen (Tylenol) when you get an occasional fever, sprain, or headache that could benefit from relief. This is because acetaminophen depletes glutathione, our master antioxidant. [12]

Still, it’s worth noting that ibuprofen can potentially lead to intestinal permeability and shift the microbiome to a less beneficial profile, thus prioritizing the growth of potentially pathogenic Clostridia bacteria (especially with long-term use).

How to Use

If you do use ibuprofen, I always recommend taking it with food. I also recommend using a high-potency zinc carnosine supplement (you’ll need a Fullscript account to purchase it – you can sign up for an account using this link), and Rootcology’s S. Boulardii concurrently, as these help ameliorate the damage and imbalance in the gut that ibuprofen can cause. The usual recommended dose of ibuprofen is 200 mg; do not exceed 1200 mg in 24 hours.


Do not take more than the recommended dose on the label.

Common side effects of ibuprofen include nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Less common side effects include headache, dizziness, increased blood pressure, ulcers, and kidney failure.

ION Gut Support

These days, our gut and microbiome need more support than ever. Gut distress can be caused by stress, food sensitivities, gut infections, antibiotics, and a number of other factors we encounter in our daily lives. We also encounter many gut-disrupting additives in our foods, like glyphosate, which is heavily sprayed on conventional crops. These things can lead to constipation and other digestive problems.

In addition to supporting the gut through diet and lifestyle, I love to keep ION Gut Support in my natural medicine cabinet. Humic extract, the main ingredient, contains fulvate, which helps the cells in our gut better communicate with each other and bacteria. Gut Support helps to repair the gut lining, which helps keep toxins out of the body and supports microbial diversity. It also helps clear glyphosate out of the body.

How to Use

The recommended dose for Gut Support is 1 tsp, 3 times per day. For sensitive individuals, you may wish to start with ⅛ of a tsp and work your way up to the full dose.


A small number of individuals may experience symptoms of tiredness, headache, bloating/increased gas, or bowel changes. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, reduce your dosage to ⅛ teaspoon daily, increasing usage slowly, as tolerated, to get to the recommended label usage.

Take at least 30 minutes away from thyroid medications, iodine, or binder supplements.

Lavender Essential Oil

I love to have lavender oil on hand for relaxation, as well as minor burns. Most people associate lavender’s soothing scent with stress relief, and it can be used in a diffuser for this purpose. Lavender also has pain-relieving, antimicrobial, and antiinflammatory properties, which means it’s also incredibly helpful for taking the sting out of a burn and helping it heal. [13]

How to Use

For minor burns, apply Aura Cacia Lavender Essential Oil diluted in either a carrier oil or water (be sure to mix it thoroughly so that it is properly diluted) onto the affected area.


For deep or severe burns, seek medical attention.

Lomatium and Munity Boost

Before all the OTC cold and flu medications and “immunity boosting” products that are now available to us, humans relied mostly on herbs to support our immune system and ease cold and flu symptoms.

I’ve found herbal preparations incredibly useful for helping me and my family fight off potential illnesses; they also seem to help me recover more quickly when I do get sick.

Lomatium is an herb that has been used by Native Americans to treat respiratory illnesses. It has antiviral, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties. Studies have shown it to be effective against human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), and other viruses that have immune-suppressing effects. [14]

It can be helpful in assisting the body to fight viral infections like the Epstein-Barr virus, which is known to trigger Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune diseases. [15]

Barlow Herbals is one of my favorite brands for high-quality herbal extracts. In particular, I love these two products:

  • Lomatium: A broad-spectrum antiviral herb with potential therapeutic benefit in Epstein-Barr virus, HPV, herpes viruses, and CMV, as well as prevention of viral infections like the flu and common cold.
  • Munity Boost: A combination of liver support herbs (dandelion root, red root, black walnut hulls, sarsaparilla, blue vervain, St. John’s Wort) with a low dose of Lomatium. MunityBoost is specially formulated to give the immune system extra support with powerful herbal ingredients that are not found in regular food. It has also been found to be especially effective for seasonal allergies.

How to Use

The Lomatium Bundle contains one bottle of Lomatium and one bottle of Munity Boost. I like to have these on hand year-round, and I often order extra bundles as we move into cold and flu season.

Barlow highly suggests going through a bottle of Munity Boost prior to using the Lomatium, as there is the potential for a one-time detox rash for first-time users of Lomatium. Munity Boost was developed specifically to acclimate the body to Lomatium and prevent this rash.


As mentioned, a small percentage of people will experience a one-time detox rash when taking Lomatium for the first time.

Not suggested during pregnancy.

Magnesium Citrate

Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for human function. It is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, including maintaining nerve and muscle function, supporting a healthy immune system, and keeping one’s heartbeat steady. Magnesium also helps create strong bones, steadies blood glucose levels, and aids in energy production. [16]

How to Use

It’s incredibly important to our overall health, and is especially helpful for the following conditions:

  • Constipation: Constipation is a red flag for magnesium deficiency. I recommend taking 300 mg of magnesium citrate at bedtime to help. The magnesium citrate salt works like a gentle laxative. If you are still constipated, increase your dose gradually each evening. If your bowel movements become too loose, cut back on your dose.
  • Headaches: Prevention is key for migraines and headaches, so I recommend starting magnesium immediately if you suffer from either. You can take either magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate. If you are having acute headaches, you can also take magnesium as needed, one to four times per day. If you find that you are still getting headaches/migraines, it may be a sign that you need more time on magnesium to replete your stores, or that you are reacting to foods. You may also have infections, like H. pylori, that can contribute to such food sensitivities. You can combine magnesium with pain medications in most cases, though I’d recommend checking with your pharmacist first, as magnesium can prevent the absorption of some medications.
  • Stress: Physical and psychological stress leads to the depletion of magnesium. [17] I like to make magnesium a part of my daily routine to support the adrenals and stress levels, but you may consider increasing your dose of magnesium during extra stressful times.
  • Sleep issues: I like to recommend Epsom salt baths, which contain magnesium that is absorbed through the skin (1 cup of salts per tub – follow package instructions, and don’t overdo it!), and magnesium citrate before bedtime.
  • Menstrual Cramps: Magnesium deficiency can increase prostaglandin production, which is associated with painful menstrual cramps. [18] Prevention is key for period cramps, so if this is an issue for you, I recommend starting a magnesium supplement immediately. For acute cramps, you can also take magnesium as needed (one to four times per day), which should help relieve pain as quickly as ibuprofen, without the side effects. In my clinical experience, I’ve seen women who take magnesium for one month say that their cramps are reduced by 80-90 percent the first period after starting magnesium, and they are almost completely gone within two months. If you find that your periods are still painful, that may be a sign that you will need to take magnesium for a longer period of time to replete your stores. I also recommend that you work on your adrenals — if impaired, this can also lead to menstrual issues. You can combine magnesium with ibuprofen for period cramps. However, your ultimate goal, of course, is to get off the ibuprofen and save it for emergencies only.

Magnesium citrate is my go-to for these situations, which is why I make sure to have it on hand at all times. I love Rootcology’s Magnesium Citrate. Doses of 300 mg are generally enough for everyday support, but you may wish to increase your dose for the situations listed above, per package instructions.


It’s important to note that if you are currently using other medications, such as those used to regulate blood pressure, you should check with your pharmacist before supplementing with magnesium, as it can interfere with the absorption of some medications.

DO NOT TAKE if taking the following medications: aminoglycoside antibiotics, antacids, bisphosphonates, blood thinners, calcium channel blockers, digoxin, ketamine, levodopa, carbidopa, potassium-sparing diuretics, quinolone antibiotics, skeletal muscle relaxers, sulfonylureas, or tetracycline antibiotics.

Consult with a doctor before using if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Most people will find that the citrate version of magnesium induces relaxation and can aid in achieving a restful night of sleep. However, a small percentage of people will find that the opposite is true for them, while others may have diarrhea and further “movement” of the bowels that may not be desirable. In such cases, a different form of magnesium (such as magnesium glycinate) may be more suitable.


N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a sulfur-based derivative of the amino acid L-cysteine. In the body, it acts as a potent antioxidant, and has been noted to be nearly 100 percent hepatoprotective – in other words, it has the ability to prevent liver damage.

In the 1970s, NAC was found to be an antidote for Tylenol (acetaminophen) overdoses; and later, in the 1980s, it was discovered that NAC can help prevent toxic reactions to chemotherapeutic agents. [19]

The acetylated form of cysteine is also a mucolytic agent, which means it can break down and thin mucus, as its sulfur content can cleave the bonds in mucoproteins. If you have a stubborn hacking cough and excessive mucus buildup due to asthma, NAC could help.

It may also benefit other respiratory-related conditions. [20] One meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled trials, found that long-term (over six months) use of NAC reduced the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (which includes refractory asthma) becoming worse. [21]

How to Use

I love to have NAC on hand to provide respiratory support year-round, and especially during cold and flu season. I recommend Rootcology’s Pure N-Acetyl Cysteine at a dose of 1 capsule per day.

I don’t typically recommend using Tylenol (acetaminophen) for headaches or pain, as it can reduce glutathione levels (and has been found to be a potential trigger for ADHD and autism in offspring when taken by pregnant women); however, if you do take Tylenol, NAC is a great remedy to help raise your glutathione levels after using. [22]


Do not use it if you have a sulfur sensitivity, are prone to fainting, or if you are allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients in this supplement. Use with caution if you have a CBS gene variation.

Discontinue use at least two weeks prior to undergoing surgery.

Consult with a doctor before use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do NOT take it if you’re taking the following medications: ACE inhibitors, activated charcoal, anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs, antihypertensive drugs, blood thinners, chloroquine, nitroglycerin, metoclopramide, and/or anticancer agents.

Oil of Oregano

Oil of oregano possesses antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic properties. [23] I have used oil of oregano to treat gut infections such as H. pylori, viral infections like the Epstein-Barr Virus, and parasites.

I like to have oil of oregano as part of my natural medicine cabinet for more everyday concerns like boosting immunity and battling viruses. It’s great to have on hand during cold and flu season!

Oil of oregano can also be helpful in cases of mold exposure, as it can help clear mold from the gut and the sinuses, where mold often colonizes the body.

How to Use

I recommend using Rootcology’s Oil of Oregano. For general immunity, 1 capsule per day will suffice, though I don’t recommend taking it for longer than a month or two. For mold exposure, I recommend 2 capsules, three times per day, for 30-60 days.


Consult with a physician before use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Do NOT take if taking the following medications: anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs, antidiabetic drugs, and/or blood thinners.


This common herb has been used for its health benefits for thousands of years. The people of ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt used both the leaves and the essential oil for digestive disorders and other conditions. [24]

Peppermint essential oil can provide headache relief, and can even help ease the common cold and sinus infections, as it helps relax muscles and ease pain due to its menthol content. Peppermint tea can help boost digestion and soothe the stomach.

How to Use

For colds and sinus infections, you’ll want to breathe the peppermint oil in. I recommend NOW Peppermint Essential Oil. You can do this by creating a steam bath – add a few drops of oil to warm water and breathe the steam in. You could also rub some diluted peppermint oil on your palms and breathe it in, or rub it on your chest, or a very small amount under your nose. Remember to always dilute essential oils in another carrier oil when applying them topically!

For headaches, simply dilute the essential oil with another carrier oil (like coconut oil), and apply to your temples.

A small amount of research has been done on the therapeutic potential of peppermint for IBS. A 2019 analysis of existing clinical data concluded that peppermint oil is a safe and effective therapy for pain and other symptoms related to IBS. [25] For this approach, it’s best to use an enteric-coated capsule like these NOW Peppermint Gels.

For everyday digestion support, I love having a cup of Traditional Medicinals Peppermint Tea. It can help ease gas, bloating, and indigestion. Simply brew a cup and drink after meals!


When applying peppermint oil to the skin, there is a risk of rash and irritation (diluting in a carrier oil can help reduce this risk). Additionally, avoid applying peppermint oil to the face of infants or young children.

Please do not use peppermint if you have asthma, as it can trigger asthma via salicylate toxicity.

Taking peppermint oil orally can cause heartburn, nausea, abdominal pain, and dry mouth, but enteric-coated capsules help reduce this risk. Don’t take antacids at the same time as peppermint capsules, as they can cause the enteric coating to break down too quickly. Rarely, people will have allergic reactions to peppermint oil.

Little is known, and experts have conflicting opinions on whether it’s safe to use peppermint oil during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Peppermint tea, on the other hand, is generally considered safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding (1-2 cups per day).


Reishi is a medicinal mushroom that has been used for over 2000 years. While there is a good deal of in vitro research and animal studies on this mushroom, there is little well-orchestrated clinical research to draw upon. Having said that, I have seen good results using reishi mushroom for its immune-boosting effects (in particular for upper respiratory viral infections), immune suppression, shingles, hormone balance, and reducing overall stress. [26]

Available studies have shown reishi to have antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and immunomodulating effects. [27]

I love having it in my medicine cabinet for the robust immune support it provides. Plus, as mentioned above, it’s been shown to provide relief from shingles. [28] If you happen to encounter this painful reactivated virus, reishi can be a great natural ally.

How to Use

I love Four Sigmatic’s Reishi Elixir blend. I like to drink a cup of this daily as part of my nighttime ritual, as it’s also very relaxing and can help promote restful sleep.


If pregnant or lactating, please consult with your doctor before taking this product. Those taking blood thinning medications should not take reishi without consulting their doctor. Other possible side effects include nosebleeds, mild gastrointestinal upset, dry mouth and throat, and dizziness.

S. boulardii

The beneficial yeast S. boulardii is an essential for my medicine cabinet because it has so many wonderful uses!

While it is often referred to as a probiotic, S. boulardii is actually a yeast that is usually taken in the form of a supplement. It has been used clinically for more than 50 years, originally for the prevention and treatment of infectious diarrhea. [29]

When moving through the digestive system, S. boulardii helps to clean up the intestines and improve microbial balance, but it doesn’t take up residence in the gut by multiplying there. Instead, it helps to clear out and remove opportunistic and pathogenic organisms from the gut, such as yeast, bacteria, and parasites. In other words, S. boulardii helps to set up a healing environment in the gut and takes the pathogens along with it, when it leaves the body through bowel movements. This helps to prevent new infections and reinfections. [30]

S. boulardii also helps to raise secretory IgA, an immunoglobulin (antibody) that plays a critical role in the immune function of the mucosal linings of the body, and helps to provide a protective barrier (SIgA is the first line of defense for the respiratory and GI tract). [31] It can prevent the adhesion of viruses, bacteria, parasites, and other pathogens, to our respiratory and gut linings. Numerous studies have shown improved outcomes in various infections, as well as in cancers and gut issues, from supplementing with S. boulardii[32]

How to Use

There are the conditions where I most often use S. boulardii:

  • Diarrhea: The reason S. boulardii works so well for diarrhea is that it stimulates the release of immunoglobulins (antibodies) and messengers (such as cytokines), as well as helps immune cells to mature. Since S. boulardii binds to pathogenic bacteria, it can neutralize toxins and decrease the pathogens that adhere to the walls of the digestive system. Essentially, it calms an overactive immune response in the digestive system. [33]
  • Traveling: I use S. boulardii preventatively when I travel to help prevent travel diarrhea (it’s been my go-to since 2012!). I also started giving it to my hubby after a relaxing vacation in the Dominican Republic turned awful due to him experiencing food poisoning. While we both ate the same foods, I did not develop food poisoning, and I believe the S. boulardii protected me.
  • Mold exposure: If you’ve been exposed to a moldy environment, it is quite possible that the mold has taken up residence in your body, including your gut and sinuses. In addition to removing the source of the mold, you will most likely need additional interventions to clear the mold from your body. The presence of mold in the sinuses and intestines can lead to intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and become a trigger for autoimmune disease. While I haven’t seen any studies to support this, clinically, I have reports of symptom improvement and a reduction of mold markers on lab tests in those who have used S. boulardii.
  • When eating sushi: Raw fish may contain parasites. This is why I like to take some S. boulardii whenever I eat sushi, to support my gut. Since S. boulardii has been shown to boost SIgA, it can help in the defense against infections. [34]
  • When I’m experiencing extra stress: My research has led me to believe that, on a biological level, stress depletes our body’s secretory IgA (among other things, like stomach acid and various nutrients). This then increases our susceptibility to gut infections that would normally be considered “self-limiting” and would just “pass through” our system. Instead, they end up colonizing and setting up a home (enter the gut symptoms). I have found that adding in S. boulardii, especially when going through periods of intense stress, can support gut infection and immunity.

I recommend Rootcology’s S. Boulardii. You can take it regularly to support overall gut health, or as needed for the situations listed above. Take 1 capsule per day for maintenance, and you can take as many as 6 capsules per day for more acute situations or when working to detox from mold exposure.


Not to be used by those who have an indwelling vascular catheter, are immunocompromised, or have risk factors for adverse events (e.g. patients with central venous catheters or increased bacterial translocation).

Consult with a doctor before use if pregnant or breastfeeding, or if a yeast allergy or Crohn’s disease is present.

Do not take if you are also taking blood thinning medications.

In some cases of Crohn’s disease, S. boulardii may cross-react with antibodies to anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae (another type of yeast). There is also potential for cross-reactions with yeast allergies. These cases are rare, but should be discussed with your provider before starting S. boulardii, to make sure it is appropriate for your needs.

Serum-derived Bovine Immunoglobulin (SBI)

SBI has been used as a medical food product to support gut health and the immune system. Because of its gut-supporting properties, I personally love to have SBI on hand for any kind of digestive distress, or in the case of food poisoning. [35]

Recently, it has been studied for its ability to prevent the progression of a certain virus through its effects on the gut, including neutralizing inflammatory antigens, decreasing gut permeability, and improving the microbiome, which suggests it may be beneficial for immune support as well. [36]

This supplement has been studied for IBS, ulcerative colitis and other types of digestive issues too.

More recently, it’s been made available in supplement form.

How to Use

I like SBI Protect by Ortho Molecular. Use 1 scoop (2.5 grams) in 4 ounces of water, 2 times daily. It’s available here via Fullscript. If you don’t have a Fullscript account, you can sign up with my credentials here.


If you are pregnant or nursing, consult your health care professional before taking this product.

Supplement Quality

What I’ve learned is that not all supplements are created equally. As a pharmacist, I can tell you that many supplements are ineffective, and some are even downright unsafe.

The truth is that most supplement companies do not undergo the same scrutiny and testing that pharmaceutical products do, because many of the tests which are required of pharmaceutical companies are voluntary for supplement companies. For this reason, most supplement companies do not take the extra steps to test their products to ensure safety and purity.

Evaluating the safety, efficacy, and cost of various treatments was a large part of my training as a pharmacist.

Over the years, I’ve found brands that I trust and that are effective. I even started my own line of supplements, because there were certain formulations I had a hard time finding a trusted source for.

All the brands listed in this guide are brands that I personally use and trust. Additionally, here are some resources for finding the best quality supplements:

  • Rootcology is dedicated to creating innovative, bioavailable products that are made with the greatest care, and with the highest quality ingredients available. All of the supplement ingredients have been carefully chosen by yours truly, to address the needs and sensitivities of people with autoimmune thyroid disease. Furthermore, all Rootcology supplements undergo third-party testing to ensure that the ingredients on the label are safe, effective, and match what’s actually inside the bottle.
  • Another resource for high-quality supplements is PureRXO. It allows you to access professional-grade, physician-only supplement brands. Visit my storefront to shop their options and see my recommendations.
  • Fullscript is an online resource to get high-quality supplements all in one place, with fast shipping directly to your home. You can also set up autoship so that you never run out of what you need. You can sign up to access my portal via this page. You will be able to see my top supplement picks, and you’ll also receive 10 percent off your order.
  • For my readers in Ireland, I recommend The Natural Dispensary.
  • For my international readers, Amrita is an online dispensary providing access to high-quality supplements. I’ve set up a portal through Amrita, where international readers can purchase my recommended supplements or my recommended substitutes. You must register for an account using my invite code WZ8B1Q, in order to access and order supplements from my Amrita portals. If you are in the UK, please register on the UK site, here. For all other countries, Amrita has set up an international site with more affordable shipping options, which you can register for their Global site, here.
  • For my European readers, Welldium is an online dispensary providing access to high-quality supplements. You can find many of the products recommended in this eBook through the Welldium portal, here.


Being a pharmacist, I understand that there is a time and a place for pharmaceutical interventions, but I have so appreciated learning about the natural alternatives that are available, and not having to always rely on OTC medications.

It’s been so fun to build my own natural medicine cabinet over the years, and I hope this guide supports you in building yours!

P.S. You can download a free Thyroid Diet Guide, 10 thyroid-friendly recipes, and the Nutrient Depletions and Digestion chapter of my first book for free by signing up for my newsletter. You will also receive occasional updates about new research, resources, giveaways, and helpful information.

For future updates, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest!


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