The medicine cabinet is just as important as the food cupboard in our kitchen, and every home should have one. Over the years, we’ve found that these 25 items are a necessity for dealing with the various types of ailment and injuries we get from time to time.
1. Bandages (and Gauze Pads)
It is good to have a box of bandages in assorted sizes, and a box of gauze pads to dress cuts, scrapes, and burns. We also use gauze pads to cover an inflamed eye.
2. Mercurochrome and/or Gentian Violet
This is a topical antiseptic applied to minor wounds, burns, and scratches to prevent infection. Gentian Violet is also used to treat fungal infections such as thrush, ringworm and athlete’s foot.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
We use hydrogen peroxide to wash away germs from cuts and scrapes before applying ointment. We also use it as a mouth rinse to relieve minor mouth irritations, and gum boils. Caution: I read that hydrogen peroxide should not be used to treat deep wounds, animal bites, or serious burns. Read this article on the uses and benefits of hydrogen peroxide.
4. Witch Hazel
My grandmother always had a bottle of Witch Hazel and that’s why we include it in our medicine cabinet. Witch Hazel is used to treat itchy skin, bruises, insect bites, and scrapes.
I read that Witch Hazel can be also be taken by mouth, although I’ve never tasted it. When taken internally, it is used for diarrhea, mucus colitis, vomiting blood, coughing up blood, tuberculosis, colds, fevers, tumors, and cancer.
5. Antibiotic ointment
We use Antibiotic ointment to treat and protect wounds, and minor burns.
6. Voltaren Gel or Bengay Ointment
These items are used to relieve muscular aches and joint pains. Caution: Voltaren Gel contains diclofenac which can increase the risk of fatal heart attack or stroke when used for a long period, or taken in high doses, or if you have heart disease. Diclofenac may also cause stomach or intestinal bleeding, which can be fatal. Persons with asthma should not use Voltaren Gel.
7. Rubbing Alcohol
We always use Rubbing alcohol to cool down a fever. However, I read that we should be careful when applying rubbing alcohol to the skin, as it can be toxic if used over large parts of the body.
Although it can have a cooling effect when left to evaporate off the skin, Rubbing alcohol has a warming effect when it is rubbed in. It can also be poisonous if inhaled, and should only be used in well ventilated areas.
This is another item my grandmother used which we are using today. Limacol is a liquid blend of aromatic compounds used to instantly refresh and reinvigorate. I read here that Limacol can be splashed on liberally after any period of time in the heat and exertion – such as after a game of football or cricket. It may be used anytime you would need to “cool off” and it has been proven to offer immediate relief.
Limacol may also be used as an aftershave lotion, astringent, deordorant, and make up remover. At home, we pour a little on our heads and cover with head wrap to treat tension headaches.
9. Insect Repellent
This is sprayed on to discourage mosquitoes and other insects from landing or climbing on the skin.
10. Vapour Rub
This is rubbed on the chest at nights to improve cough, breathing, and other cold symptoms. When applied to the elbows and ankles, vapour rub will deter mosquitoes and some biting flies.
11. Eucalyptus Oil
We apply Eucalyptus oil to relieve the symptoms of influenza and colds; it is inhaled as a decongestant and a treatment for bronchitis. Eucalyptus oil can be applied to clothing and on the skin. I also read that Eucalyptus oil can also be applied to wounds to prevent infection.
12. Glucose Tablets
Although we keep a few of these tablets in the medicine cabinet, you may also keep them by your bedside, especially if you are diabetic. Glucose tablets are taken to treat low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) as it is readily absorbed by the body. Hypoglycemia is dangerous because it can lead to seizure, unconsciousness, and even death if blood glucose levels continue to fall and is untreated.
If you are diabetic, and find yourself experiencing symptoms like: shakiness, trembling, sweating, dizziness, blurred vision, anxiety, confusion, agitation, lack of coordination, difficulty speaking, feeling tired, heart beating fast etc., immediately take a few glucose tablets to raise your blood sugar back to a normal level, then consult your physician.
13. Tools – Thermometer (and a pair of Tweezers)
The thermometer is used to determine body temperature, while a pair of tweezers is important for removing splinters, insects, thorns etc., sticking into the skin.
14. Cetamol Tablets
It is good to have a box of suitable pain killers which may be taken to relieve pain, headaches, and fever.
We take Histatussin liquid for coughs and colds. Histatussin is an antihistamine and is used for treating allergies – relieving watery eyes, itchy eyes/nose/throat, runny nose, sneezing, and hives. Histatussin is also a decongestant, and ideal for treating asthmatic conditions.
Gravol is taken for nausea and vomiting and is used to prevent and treat motion sickness. It is also used for treating nausea and vomiting associated with various conditions such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.
17. Gas-X Tablets
These, and other suitable anti-acid medication are taken for digestive problems. We take GasX to relieve symptoms of extra gas such as belching, bloating, heartburn, and feelings of pressure/discomfort in the stomach.
18. TCP Liquid (Antiseptic)
We use TCP Liquid as a gargle for our sore throats. It is also good for treating mouth ulcers, cuts, grazes, bites and stings, boils, spots and pimples. Caution: TCP Liquid should not be swallowed.
19. Wray and Nephew White Overproof Rum
Most Jamaicans keep rum in their medicine cabinets, and some persons have their rums infused with herbs, pimento berries, etc. White Rum is good for treating colds and fever; I also drink a little for stomach cramps.
In Jamaica, White rum is often rubbed into the chest and back when you’re sick, or on any part of your body that is in pain. Also, when mixed with honey and lime juice, White rum is used to treat sore throats and as an antidote for preventing colds.
20. Teething Gel or Toothache Gel
Teething Gel is handy to have around to temporarily relieve toothache pain until you visit the dentist. Caution: The numbing agent in a number of gels designed to ease the pain of teething can be dangerous or even fatal to babies.
21. Whitfield’s Ointment
We use Whitfield’s Ointment to treat fungal infections on the skin, it is also effective for skin irritation caused by insect bites. Caution: Whitfield Ointment contains benzoic acid and salicylic acid and it is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old. Pregnant and nursing mother should consult their physicians before using this product.
22. Menthol Crystals
In our home, we place Menthol crystals in hot water in an Aromatherapy Oil Burner/Room Fragrance Diffuser, over a candle flame. We let the aroma from the Menthol crystals fill the entire room for a few hours. This minty aroma works as a decongestant and inhaling it helps relieve chest congestion and upper respiratory issues. Inhaling the aroma of these crystals also helps alleviate blockages, and improves breathing.
23. Mentholatum® Ointment
We use this ointment as a soothing relief to sore muscles and joints. It is also used as a chest rub to soothe chest congestion and relieve cough caused by the flu or common cold; its aromatic vapors are soothing and cooling to the nasal passages. I also use this ointment to prevent and treat bites from mites that burrow into the skin. I read that mites do not like the scent of menthol.
24. Medicinal Olive Oil
We use medicinal Olive oil on our skin – massaging it into aching muscles. It is also good for removing blotches, stretch marks and other marks on the skin caused by insect bites, burns, and bumps. When using medicinal Olive oil, my mum also say a word of prayer while applying it.
25. Healing Oil
This is one of my favourite medication used for healing cuts and sores, on both humans and animals. It causes wounds to heal very quickly. I read that Healing oil may be used to relieve minor aches and pains from muscle strains, soreness of the muscles, arthritis, and rheumatic conditions.
A word about other products:
Angostura Bitters has medicinal properties and it is excellent for treating diarrhea, however, you’ll find it stored in our kitchen cupboard; as well as Andrews Liver Salts and Brandy which is good to take for upset stomachs.
I know for sure that some persons will tell me to mention White Rum again, which is mentioned in #19 above; as it is good for treating some ailments.
When you feel bad, rub some rum in your hand then inhale it, it really works. You may also rub a dash of white rum on your body when you have body pain, fever, and arthritis troubles. White rum in juice or water, is also good for getting rid of worms.
Although my mum has Epsom salts, I did not mention it since I’ve never used it. Then there’s Smelling salts . . . my grandmother used it whenever she felt dizzy; but it has not found a place in our medicine cabinet.
A few other items that you may keep in your medicine cabinet include . . . cotton buds, a copy of your medical card, and a First Aid book.