Aspirin, anti-depressants, painkillers… it’s easy to turn to traditional medicine when pain and discomfort affect us. Medication should always be considered, but did you know that there are natural alternatives that can also help?
Although supplements will never replace healthy eating habits, they can play an important role in helping you become healthy and feel your best. Not only do they provide you with nutrients and essential minerals that are hard to get (even with a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables), they can also help you with common ailments.
We all know that sleep is essential to our health and can have a huge impact on our daily lives. Yet, all of us experience insomnia from time to time because of stress or anxiety, or simply because we can’t shut our brains off. Sleeping pills are an easy solution, but there are some natural alternatives that can also help.
A natural alternative: Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland located in the brain. Its purpose is to regulate your biological clock. Nicknamed the “sleep hormone,” it’s produced when it’s dark and lets your body know when it is time to sleep. The production of melatonin decreases in the morning to help the body wake up.
People who suffer from sleep disorders usually have low levels of melatonin. That’s why they might benefit from a supplement to help them rebalance their internal sleep rhythm.
Even though supplements can be beneficial in the short-term, avoid using melatonin supplements for long periods because they could decrease the body’s natural production of the hormone. Make sure to talk to your pharmacist; they can advise you.
Stress and anxiety
It’s a well-known fact that stress and anxiety can damage your physical and psychological health. Anti-depressants and sedatives are available, but you can also turn to natural supplements.
A natural alternative: Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral that regulates over 300 biochemical reactions and processes in the body. It‘s essential to overall good health, but it’s also known for its relaxing properties. It can be a great ally in treating stress and anxiety and alleviate sleep disorders as well. It has also been shown to prevent several ailments and diseases. It naturally relaxes nerves and is essential to the production of GABA, the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates neuronal hyperactivity and anxiety.
According to Health Canada, nearly half of all Canadians suffer from a lack of magnesium, and some experts suspect this figure is even higher. Caffeine, alcohol, too much sugar, some medications and even stress can lead to a loss of magnesium. Even though this mineral can be found in small quantities in nuts, green vegetables, whole grains and legumes, it’s hard to get enough magnesium in our diet. That’s why many of us could benefit from a magnesium supplement. Take note, magnesium can also act as a natural laxative, so be careful if you tend to suffer from diarrhea.
Whether you suffer from constipation, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome, digestive problems are one of the most common daily ailments. But before taking a laxative or anti-diarrheal medicine, consider the natural solutions available.
A natural alternative: Probiotics
We often hear about the benefits of probiotics and with good cause. But what are probiotics exactly, and how can they help? Probiotics are the bacteria and micro-organisms that are good for your digestive system (or microbiota). Your digestive tract naturally contains billions of micro-organisms that help maintain digestive health and reinforce your immune system. They also help regulate lots of other processes in your body.
When bad bacteria take over, an imbalance occurs. Several factors can lead to this imbalance (antibiotics, the pill, a diet rich in sugar, fat or processed foods, etc.). Consuming probiotics can help good bacteria flourish in your gut once again. Several studies have shown they are efficient in preventing and treating intestinal disorders such as diarrhea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome. Even though probiotics are found in small quantities in fermented foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut and fermented soy, you might benefit from taking larger doses of probiotics.
Premenstrual syndrome and hormonal disorders
Nearly 75% of women are affected by premenstrual syndrome (PMS) every month. Mood swings, depression, cramps, headaches, fatigue… there are many symptoms of PMS, and they can make your life miserable. But before reaching for anti-depressants, painkillers or other medication, have you thought about using natural supplements?
A natural alternative: Calcium
We all know that calcium is essential to good bone health and helps the body stay healthy. But several studies have also shown that calcium is efficient in treating the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. It can be a precious ally to help you get through difficult periods.
Note that magnesium, vitamin D and vitamin K help the body absorb calcium. Getting the right balance of these nutrients is necessary to staying healthy, and it’s often recommended they be taken together.
Before taking new supplements or natural products, consult your Brunet pharmacist. They’ll be able to tell you what options are available and help you identify which natural products and what doses are right for you.
Do you already use natural alternatives to help with your daily ailments? Share your experiences with us on Facebook!
Sophie Bourdon is a holistic nutritional consultant, writer, photographer, and food stylist. She is the founder of The Green Life, a blog featuring delicious plant-based recipes for a healthy, vibrant life. The Green Life inspires thousands of readers to make nutritious, organic choices so they can regain their physical and mental balance.
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