Simple Medicine Cabinet

simple, natural home remedies that work
I'm always on the lookout for home remedies that work. Generally I'm looking for the more natural, healthier options. Then, every now and then, one of us will come down with something ugly and I only care that it works.

In efforts to keep those trends that actually work alive on the internet, here's a running list of our go-to "remedies" in our family's medicine cabinet. This is a revolving list that I'll likely edit in the future. Some of it's about relieving symptoms while others seem to help get rid of the bug causing the problem.

Take what sounds good to you and give it a try. Keep using it if it works, or continue searching for another solution if it doesn't. Above all, know that nothing beats an ongoing healthy lifestyle with whole foods, lots of water, good sleep every night, stress-relief, fresh air, and other ongoing healthy habits.

And always always go to a medical professional with questions or concerns about your health.

Disclaimer: This post is purely anecdotal and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or prevent any sicknesses or diseases. Always consult a medical professional with your health questions and concerns.

Simple Remedies in Our Medicine Cabinet

First, here are some go-to products that we keep on hand for our recurring symptoms and complaints. These are the more natural things we try to turn to first. If needed, we also keep over-the-counter age-appropriate options like ibuprofen and acetaminophen on hand. And we always take our more serious or ongoing concerns to a doctor as needed.

*Affiliate links used. See full note below.
keeping the medicine cabinet simple with home remedies that work: garlic ear oil, elderberry syrup, essential oils, emergen-c, epsom salt, eczema lotions, tea

Eczema Lotion

I talk about eczema relief below. The kids and I get some pretty itchy spots especially in the winter, so we keep a lotion specifically for eczema on hand. Eczema lotions usually shouldn't be used more than a week straight, so we keep other lotion on hand for daily use. Aveeno Baby Eczema or Cortizone-10 Eczema have both been effective for quick relief when it's needed most. They're at most drug stores, Target, and Walmart.

Elderberry Syrup

We usually get our Elderberry Syrup at a health food store. We've also found it at Walmart but it has more sugar. You can make your own, but that's usually the last thing I want to do when one of us is sick. We use it when we feel a cold coming on. It has a limited shelf life, so we usually buy it as needed or just have it on hand through the colder, sicker months.


Emergen-C has a decent amount of sugar, but the extra dose of immune-boosting vitamins always seems worth it. We use it anytime we're dragging or feel any sickness coming on. Sometimes I take it when I just feel blah. We often get the store brand version.

Epsom Salt

An Epsom Salt bath helps sore, achy muscles whether it's related to a sickness, a migraine, or stress. I try to always keep a decent-size bag on hand.

Essential Oils: Lemon, Peppermint, Lavender, Tea Tree, and Blends

We love our essential oils and take care to use them safely (see more about essential oils >> here). The main considerations are to check safety for kids (some oils shouldn't be used on or around kids, especially younger ones), we don't ingest them (that should only be done under the guidance of a professional), we almost always dilute them (a drop in a carrier oil like coconut), and I keep a BS detector up for anything I see oil-related online (so many people are just trying to sell them and are not taking the time to be educated on the real safety considerations).

Our go-to oils that we keep on hand are lemon, peppermint, lavender, tea tree, and a couple blends including a thieves blend and a muscle-relief blend. They all have so many uses. We've gotten ours a variety of places. You can check health food stores, there's some options on Amazon, you probably have a friend or two selling the multi-level marketing versions, and I even saw a small selection at our local Walmart. For more information on safety and choosing where to buy from, checkout and Lea Harris' post How to Tell if an Essential Oil Company is Worth Purchasing From. She relies heavily on Robert Tisserand's extensive research, and I appreciate how she breaks things down into practical terms.

Garlic Ear Oil

I found Garlic Ear Oil by looking for natural remedies for earaches related to possible ear infections. There were tutorials on making your own, but I felt better using a store-bought option. We have used it a lot over the last few years, and it greatly reduced our visits to the doctor and our prescriptions for antibiotics. More on that below.

Ice Bag

I love that an Ice Bag can be filled with ice or warm water, depending on what it's being used for. Then it can be emptied and easily stored until next use. It can be handy for cramps, swelling, headaches, or even my kids legs with growing pains.

Vitamin D

I've almost always lived where it's dark and cold through the winter months, so I can't believe I'm just now learning the importance of Vitamin D for immunity health. Taking it through the winter has been a game changer for my moods and my overall health through the winter.

Rice Pack

Our Bed Buddy rice pack is similar to the ice bag, except we only use it warm. It works better for cramps or achy muscles, and again for the kids' growing pains.

Sleepytime Throat Tamer Tea

I'm not a tea-drinker, but the Sleepytime Throat Tamer Tea has been so good any time I'm sick. It's helped through a stomach bug (the licorice and ginger are stomach/nausea soothers), and it's felt so good through a cold (chamomile and decaf help with rest). I mix in a teaspoon of honey for sweetness and it's not too bad for this non-tea-fan.

Natural Symptom Relief

Our Go-To Somewhat Natural Symptom Relief

Here are some remedies we've used for common symptoms. They're not meant to cure and often simply just relieve symptoms. We always go to the doctor for more serious or ongoing concerns.

Cold Symptoms

When we start coming down with a cold, we hit it hard with anything and everything we've got. We follow the usage on the Elderberry Syrup bottle, take Emergen-C daily, drink Throat Tamer Tea, take an Epsom Salt bath, use garlic ear oil (especially if there's discomfort in the ears and/or throat), take Vitamin D daily, drink double water, limit sugar, and use essential oils (peppermint or lemon for the kids and thieves blend for us adults) in a carrier oil on the chest/throat and diffused. If the cold becomes concerning (i.e., carries on too long, comes with a fever or concerning mucous, etc.), then we schedule an appointment with the doctor.


Our earaches sometimes come on with cold symptoms, and other times are the singular symptom. We follow the package directions for our Garlic Ear Oil, and use above remedies for any accompanying cold symptoms. The garlic ear oil usually works in the first day or two and we try to follow use through 2-3 days. If pain persists or comes with a fever or other concerning symptoms, we schedule an appointment with the doc. Before ear oil, I felt like we were prescribed antibiotics far too often and they didn't always seem to work on my daughter. After ear oil, we've gone to the doctor far less as possible ear infection was our most common reason for going to the doctor. Ear infections aren't anything to mess around with as missing them can lead to other serious problems, so we are careful. Still, garlic ear oil seems to have helped a lot.


I've had eczema off and on since childhood and have sadly passed it on to some extent to all 3 of my kids. Bad outbreaks can usually be minimized by avoiding any known allergens and using gentle lotions and soaps (usually things without scents or dyes). That said, outbreaks seem to hit the worst for them and me during the cold, dry months of winter. What helps the most is keeping baths/showers to 10 minutes or less, then patting skin dry and using a gentle moisturizer immediately after. (I like Aveeno baby lotion and coconut oil for everyday moisturizing). When obvious itchy eczema spots show up, we use an eczema-specific lotion (the ones made by Cortisone-10 and Aveeno baby have worked good for us) for a few days and that usually helps clear it up. Those lotions usually note that they shouldn't be used longer than 7 days in a row. There have been times that their spots get really dry and itchy; during those times I use the eczema lotion then coat over it with something thick and sealing like Aquaphor. We've tried oatmeal baths and lavender and other natural remedies, but the above is the most reliable and effective for us. Their eczema spots can quickly turn large and itchy and eventually bleed if they scratch too much, so I act quick and stick with what I know works. As usual, share your concerns with your family doctor, especially if nothing seems to be helping.

Flu/Stomach Bug Symptoms

When we come down with the flu, we just take the day off and try to be as comfortable as possible. This usually involves an Epsom Salt bath, a heated Rice Pack, ginger ale and/or throat tamer tea, and a cool wash cloth. We also try to only eat soft, lightly flavored foods (apple sauce, smoothie, mild chicken noodle soup) with the idea that it might come back up. So far we haven't experienced any additional concerns that has sent us to the doctor with the flu.


I treat my headaches and migraines similarly as they seem to have the same cause. What works for your headaches or migraines will depend on their cause. Mine seem to be hereditary and come on with dehydration, stress, and my monthly cycle. Keeping up with lots of water and stress-relieving (especially daily stretching) can go a long way in preventing them. When one starts coming on, I immediately drink a bunch of water, put a little peppermint essential oil at my temples and the base of my neck (where mine usually settle), stretch my neck/back, use a foam roller, and take a break to rest my eyes if I can. If within 20 minutes it's just getting stronger, I usually jump in with ibuprofen or extra strength tylenol depending on how it's feeling and what I've last taken--migraines are miserable and I don't mess around with them. If meds don't seem to help (as they sometimes don't when I've let it go on too long), I keep up the water intake, peppermint essential oil, stretching, and resting my eyes. I also take an Epsom Salt bath with a cool cloth on my neck/head. Headaches can also signify other more serious concerns, so keep your doctor informed if you have ongoing headaches or other symptoms.

Kidney Stones

In Bea Johnson's book Zero Waste Home, she mentions mixing 1/4 cup olive oil with 1/4 cup lemon juice and drinking then follow with a large glass of water for kidney stones. My husband had a kidney stone so was familiar with the initial pain. He started to feel it again and I remembered this home remedy. He did it. He said it tasted awful, but the pain went away and didn't come back. It seemed to have worked, though "we" have only tried it that once. Generally kidney stones just have to be passed on their own, so this little trick is worth a try. Of course, if the pain continued or worsened, we'd visit the doctor.


I share my two-cents on all things monthly cycle related in this >> post.


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