SUNDAY, JUNE 20TH, 2021

We’ve all had headaches, muscle cramps and the sniffles. Although not life threatening, these conditions can be annoying and painful. And the first item we often reach for to stop these annoyances is a bottle of pain killer that many Paly students say they pop like candy. 

However, studies show overuse of painkillers can lead to stomach disruption and gastrointestinal distress as well as a decrease in the effectiveness of painkillers as your body builds up tolerance. So, next time you feel unwell, try one of these natural medicinal remedies. Your body will thank you.

Congestion relief the natural way

One of the worst parts about having a cold is a constant runny nose. Aside from the mucus leaking out of your nose, the inability to breathe properly and the pressure in your sinuses, added frustration stems from the fact that there’s no medicine you can take to fix it. Luckily, there are a few simple natural remedies that can help reduce the symptoms of the common cold. 

Eating foods containing ginger and chilis, which have anti-inflammatory properties, can help reduce swelling in your nasal passages and clear up your sinuses while releasing some of the tension in your head. 

Anything involving steam, including hot showers, turning on a humidifier or standing over a pot of boiling water and inhaling the steam, is effective in reducing the fluid buildup in your chest, making it easier to breathe. This technique works even better if you infuse the water you are boiling or the water in your humidifier with peppermint oil or tea, since it simultaneously clears up your sinuses, eliminating that runny nose.

Headache relief through liquids

Headaches are one of the most common health problems teenagers face and are often caused by high stress levels and insufficient sleep. The Migraine Research Foundation says 28% of adolescents suffer from chronic headaches.

Next time you find yourself with a headache, instead of reaching straight for the pills, try something less invasive. When you feel a headache coming on, immediately drink a glass or two of water. Dehydration can cause headaches and exacerbate their symptoms. Rubbing lavender and peppermint-scented essential oils on your temples can also help release pressure. 

Drinking caffeine can ease symptoms, too, as it makes you more alert and constricts your blood vessels, which stops headaches by moving excess blood away from your head. However, be mindful that caffeine can also cause headaches if you become too dependent on it or consume too much at once. 

Finally, if you find your headaches are chronic, try doing yoga for 15 minutes every day to relieve stress and pressure. Or try booking an appointment for acupuncture. Many patients find their headaches become less frequent when certain parts of their body are stimulated using acupuncture needles. 

Meditation can reduce stress

Stress is hard to avoid. But some days stress can feel more intense than usual, to the point where it can be debilitating, and rubbing essential oils on your temples can help. The stimulation of your temples along with the scent of the oils can help reduce your heart rate. 

Meditation is also an effective way to alleviate stress as it allows you to compartmentalize your thoughts, reduce your heart rate and steady your breathing. 

You could also download apps like Headspace which has free meditation guides that range from three minutes to an hour. Exercise allows you to mentally and physically remove yourself from whatever situation you are in and release physical tension. 

Reading, tea help with insomnia

Stress can also cause insomnia. With all the time spent on computers during the pandemic, we are constantly bombarded with blue light from our screens. Blue light suppresses your body’s natural release of melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep and drowsiness. 

To help limit your blue light exposure and improve your sleep schedule, try wearing blue light-blocking glasses and remove screens from your bedtime regimen. Try reading good old-fashioned paper books before bed instead which reduces exposure to blue light. Reading books makes your eyes and brain work simultaneously, which helps tire you out and makes you fall asleep faster. 

Finally, drinking herbal teas such as chamomile can induce sleep. Chamomile contains an antioxidant called apigenin, which calms your body and allows you to relax, eventually leading to sleep. 

Though medication may be convenient and perhaps even the fastest way to solve some of your health issues, replacing painkillers with natural remedies can not only improve your quality of health, but also allow your body to react better to synthetic painkillers in emergency situations where you need more powerful options.

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