Headaches, stomach aches, cramps, muscular pain, allergies – these are the instances when people take medication. Even for seemingly regular-occurring headaches, over-the-counter medication would cost quite a lot of money.
Thanks to alternative medicine, there are herbs and natural medications that you can take to relieve whatever pain it is that you are feeling. Here, we will take a look at the herbs that will help you save money on medicine. Also, we will delve a bit deeper into how much Americans really spend on medication. If you want to know which are the herbs that save you money on medicine, keep reading!
How Much Do Americans Really Spend on Medication?
- So how much do Americans really spend on medication? Here are a few figures from Statista.com:
For the past five years, here is the total nominal spending on medicines in the US:
- 2009 = $300 billion
- 2010 = $316 billion
- 2011 = $329 billion
- 2012 = $319 billion
- 2013 = $329 billion
- In 2013, the total spending on medicine expenditure worldwide was $989 billion. It is estimated that until 2018, the pharmaceutical market will increase to nearly $1.3 trillion.
- By 2016, it is expected that the revenue of the alternative medicine industry will amount to around $14.3 billion.
- Americans spend $200 billion per year on prescription drugs and $20 billion on herbs and other dietary supplements.
With billions of dollars spent on regular medicine, a huge market for alternative medication has emerged. Not only is alternative medicine cheaper, but it is also more natural and has lesser side effects. Find out what the most common herb medications are in the next section.
The Most Common Herbs That Will Save You Money on Medicine
If you’re looking for alternative medication which is natural, cheaper and equally effective as over-the-counter meds, take a look at the following list of herbs:
1. Aloe Vera
Perhaps one of the most popular herbs used in alternative medicine is aloe vera. The gel-like substance inside the leaves is used to treat burns, scrapes, sunburn, scalds and other wounds. All you have to do is apply the juice onto the affected area to promote healing. The plant can also be used for conjunctivitis, hemorrhoids, diabetes and can be used as a purgative in large doses.
For many years, athletes and natural healers have relied on arnica to help reduce the pain, bruising or swelling which are a result of sprains, strains and similar physical injuries. Instead of taking ibuprofen, you can simply apply arnica cream on the affected area. It’s a common solution used by people who are suffering from osteoarthritis, especially of the hands. Initial studies have also shown that arnica is effective in preventing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
3. Astralagus Membranaceus
This is a traditional Chinese herb which can be used to promote and maintain respiratory health. Used for the common cold, the herb has antiviral properties and also helps boost the immune system. If you would like to give your general immune system a boost, it is recommended that you take 100 to 150 mg of astragalus supplement daily.
Those who are suffering from allergies will be glad to know that butterbur is an herb that can be used as a natural antihistamine. The good news is that unlike over-the-counter allergy medication, butterbur does not cause sleepiness.
This herb has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce back pain. To use, look for a topical cream which contains .075% of Capsaicin although you need to make sure that your skin is not sensitive, otherwise the solution might burn or cause a stinging sensation. Also make sure not to apply on broken skin or near the eye area.
Instead of taking syrup or popping pills when you have the common cold, you can try a popular herb called Echinacea. Reviews from the University of Connecticut’s School of Pharmacy showed that Echinacea decreased the possibility of a person developing the common cold by 58%. As soon as you get the sniffles, you can take 300 mg of the herbal supplement every two hours, then thrice daily for seven to ten days.
It may not necessarily smell great but it does taste excellent when used as an ingredient in dishes. More than that, garlic is an herb which helps lower blood pressure by improving the elasticity of the walls of the blood vessels. Garlic can also be used as a natural blood thinner to reduce cholesterol. Garlic can be taken in its natural form, or supplemental garlic can be taken to prevent the development of atherosclerosis.
If you’re suffering from sea sickness, morning sickness from pregnancy or any other type of illness which causes nausea, you should definitely take ginger. Ginger root has soothing properties which help prevent dizziness and vomiting. Although it is available in capsule form, the best way to treat any form of sickness is by taking ginger tea.
9. Green Tea
Green tea does have a lot of health benefits and it can be used in alternative medicine as well. The leaves of the tea are a potent antioxidant which inhibits the absorption of viruses in the body. One study at the University of Florida showed that those who were given a green tea supplement were 32% less likely to come down with a cold or flu. Green tea has also been known to fight against different kinds of cancers.
Those who are at risk of developing heart disease can rely on hawthorn to keep it at bay. The herb contains a large amount of flavonoids which help stabilize capillaries, strengthen weak blood vessels and manage unhealthy cholesterol levels. Hawthorn is rich in antioxidants and has been used in clinical trials which confirmed that the extract helps individuals who have early-stage congestive heart failure.
Those who are looking for an herbal alternative to Tums can use licorice. Herbalists have long been using this plant to treat indigestion. Just remember that the supplement instead of the pure form of licorice should be used, because it does have a chemical called glycyrrhiza which can lead to raised blood pressure. As such, the recommended supplement is called DGL or deglycyrrhizinated licorice – something that’s completely safe and effective, and can be used to prevent heartburn.
If you think that oregano can only be used for cooking, think again. This plant largely grows in countries where the climate is warm. In herbal medicine, it can be used in its concentrated form, as tea leaves, as an essential oil or even just the plain leaves of wild oregano. The leaves and flowers can be used as antiseptic for wounds. Other ailments that oregano helps treat include cold, mild fever, indigestion, flatulence, toothache, sinus problems, nail infection and asthma.
13. Stinging Nettle
A natural way to treat watery eyes, sneezing and similar symptoms of respiratory problems is by taking Stinging Nettle. This herb has anti-inflammatory properties and studies have shown that it is even more effective than over-the-counter allergy medication. Again, the bonus of using such natural solutions for allergies is that you will not get the drowsy feeling associated with taking OTC medication.
14. John’s Wort
If you’re looking for a treatment for depression which does not have any side effects, use St. John’s wort. It has been known to gently and effectively treat mild to moderate depression. It does have a downside, however. Taking this herb can make you more sensitive to sunlight – so slather on a lot of sunscreen before going out when using this herb. You should also consult a general health care practitioner before taking herbal supplements containing St. John’s wort because it can reduce the effectiveness of birth control pills and other drugs. For mild to moderate depression, 500 to 1,000 mg of St. John’s wort extract can be taken daily.
You’ve probably heard about Valerian from the hit HBO show Game of Thrones. The plant does have a calming and sedating effect, so it can be taken by those who are having problems going to sleep. In a study conducted in Norway, volunteers who took valerian root versus placebo have been reported to enjoy longer sleep, and have woken up less throughout the night. It’s the quality or deepness of sleep that actually matters, and valerian is an excellent treatment for that. More importantly, unlike chemical-based sleeping pills, valerian is not addictive at all and will not leave you feeling sluggish the next morning.
There are many other herbs that can actually save you money on medicine. When used as an alternative for over-the-counter medication, you will enjoy numerous benefits. First is the cost, second is the lack of side effects and third is the fact that you are using a natural instead of a chemical-based solution for whatever is ailing you.
Instead of spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on medication for advanced diseases, it is best to take preventative steps to lead a healthier lifestyle, and these money-saving herbs can be part of that.