From the Magazine

Skip Over-the-Counter Drugs With These 5 Natural Remedies

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Many common OTC medications hinder communication between brain cells, triggering memory lapses and brain fog. The great news: These natural remedies provide relief — and deliver extra health benefits!  

Can’t sleep? Take deep breaths.

Bedtime breathing exercises prod the brain to release sleep-inducing theta waves, helping you drift off 50 percent faster than OTC sleeping pills, say Cornell researchers. To do: Lying on your back, inhale deeply. Hold your breath for a count of five, then release slowly. Repeat until you drift off. Bonus: This breathing strategy reduces anxiety by 63 percent!

Heartburn flare? Pick this sweet tablet.

Instead of reaching for heartburn meds, try chewing two tablets of deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) before meals or whenever the pain flares. Studies show this slightly sweet herbal extract is as effective as heartburn -tamers because it coats and protects the esophagus and speeds healing of damaged tissues. Bonus: DGL relaxes arteries to trim up to eight points off your blood pressure. Try this one from Nusapure ($16.50, Amazon). Note: Always check with your doctor before supplementing.

Allergies? Try an herbal remedy.

Taking 150 mg. of butterbur daily tames allergy flares more effectively than antihistamines, say Swiss researchers. Allergist Andreas Schapowal, MD, explains that the herb blocks the immune system’s production of symptom-triggering histamine. Bonus: In one German study, subjects taking butterbur daily also slashed regular migraine flare-ups by 55 percent. Try this one from Now Foods ($13.07, Amazon).

Back aching? Go for regular motion breaks.

Going for a five-minute stroll every hour can cut stiffness and back pain by 65 percent — making this strategy twice as effective as OTC drugs, British researchers say. Moving your leg muscles flushes pain-triggering inflammation out of back tissues and prods the brain to release painkilling hormones called endorphins. Bonus: According to researchers from Indiana University, frequent motion breaks heighten insulin sensitivity, cutting diabetes risk by as much as 50 percent.

Bloated? Try peppermint!

Before reaching for a water pill, try sipping 32 ounces of iced peppermint tea daily. Asian researchers say the herbal brew flushes up to four pounds of excess water in one week for 69 pounds of women! Brew up your own with this one from Traditional Medicinals ($7.86, Amazon).

This story originally appeared in our print magazine.

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