top of page

What’s in the Naturopathic Doctor’s Medicine Cabinet?

Podcast episode cover art; medicine cabinet with natural supplements

Season 2 of the Science of Self-Healing Podcast has a NEW host! Please welcome Dr. James Odell, the Medical and Executive Director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years.

In today's insightful episode, join Dr. Odell as he shares his essential remedies for a well-stocked medicine cabinet from a bioregulatory medicine perspective. 

Dr. Odell's focus spans a spectrum of health concerns, offering valuable recommendations for pain relief, allergy relief, combating cold and flu, maintaining digestive health, caring for your eyes and ears, exploring effective sleep aids, and ensuring a well-prepared first aid arsenal. 

Tune in to discover the secrets of Dr. Odell's medicine cabinet, and equip yourself for life's unexpected twists with the wisdom of natural remedies. 

Transcript: What’s in the Naturopathic Doctor’s Medicine Cabinet?

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Science of Self-Healing podcast. For health and wellness knowledge from a different perspective. Produced by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMI. We are your source for unparalleled information about how you can naturally support your body's ability to regulate, adapt, regenerate, and self-heal. I'm your host, Dr. James Odell, the medical and executive director for BRMI, as well as a practicing naturopathic doctor for over 35 years. And remember, this podcast is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for the direct care of a qualified health professional who oversees and provides unique and individual care. The information here is to broaden our different perspectives and should not be construed as medical advice or treatment. Let's get started.

In today's episode, I'll share recommendations for a well stocked medicine cabinet from a biological medicine perspective. Like the pharmacy selections for various health concerns, I'll cover pain relief, allergy relief, cold and flu, digestive health, eye and ear care, sleep aids, and finally first aid. 

And please do not worry about taking notes. The full transcript will be available on our website at:

Bear in mind, this is not a recommended food supplement list, but rather a remedial list for common disorders. Thus, these suggestions are my top natural remedies to have on hand for treating a variety of ailments, most common ailments when life takes an unexpected turn. 

What sets many items apart from a typical conventional medicine cabinet is that most of these items are derived from plants and have been used for centuries without many side effects. While the conventional medicine cabinet is filled with synthetically derived chemicals that can entail serious side effects. 

Maintaining a well stocked natural medicine cabinet with diverse options is crucial for promptly and effectively addressing health issues. So let's dive in. 

Pain Relief

First are remedies for pain relief, whether it be from acute trauma or something more chronic. 

Proteolytic Enzymes

Proteolytic enzymes (or proteases) refer to various enzymes that digest protein or (break protein down to smaller particles). These enzymes include the pancreatic proteases, chymotrypsin and trypsin, bromelain, (which is the pineapple enzyme) papain, (which is the papaya enzyme) and serratia peptidase (which is the silkworm enzyme). It comes from silkworms. This is how they break out of their cocoon - they release an enzyme. These types of enzymes are strongly anti-inflammatory and as such work for tissue trauma, aches, and pains. Unlike food enzymes, which some of you may take food enzymes to help you digest your food, these proteolytic enzymes are to be taken on an empty stomach for best results. That way, they get into your bloodstream. 

Willow Bark

Next is willow bark. Willow bark is another remedy for inflammation and pain, which contains natural salicylic compounds derived from salicylic acid. Now here's the twist. Aspirin also has salicylates, but it's synthetically derived as acetyl salicylic acid. Willow bark has been a traditional remedy for pain relief, addressing general aches, inflammatory problems, fevers, low back pain, osteoarthritis and tendonitis. Its history as a pain relief remedy goes way back. 3500 years ago. It was used in Egypt, South America, Greece and China. Even Hippocrates, a healer from the fourth century BC, relied on it for pain and inflammatory relief. And the ancient Egyptians sipped on willow bark concoctions to manage pain and prevent fevers. Generally, for pain relief, the recommended dose of willow bark is about 120 to 240 milligrams a day. It's available in tablet or capsule form. However, it's important to consult a doctor or your health practitioner before taking willow bark, especially those who have gastrointestinal or liver problems. 

Turmeric with Boswellia

Another pain relief, go-to, is turmeric, formulated with boswellia, which works synergistically to address pain and inflammation. Seek a formula that also incorporates bioperine, a term for black pepper, as it aids at better absorption. The effectiveness lies in turmeric containing curcumin, a compound with recognized anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin is thought to inhibit inflammatory pathways, potentially reducing pain and swelling, making it beneficial for managing conditions like osteoarthritis and even rheumatoid arthritis. Boswellia contains active compounds called boswellic acids, believed to have anti-inflammatory effects as well. So you could imagine that the two of these substances together can be quite effective. You could easily find turmeric with boswellia together in a capsule, tablet or powder form. But for the added bioperine, that's the black pepper extract, you might need to search a little bit more. Some formulas even include ginger to prevent nausea. 

Jin Gu Die Shang Wan

Next, we have the Chinese formula, Jin Gu Die Shang Wan. And I'll spell that for you. J-I-N  G-U  D-I-E  S-H-A-N-G  W-A-N, Jin Gu Die Shang Wan. Also called “the great mender tea pill”. It's excellent for traumatic injuries, including fractures, sprains, strains, wounds, and accompanying pain and swelling. 

Next, we have homeopathic. There are several homeopathic remedies for trauma, inflammation and pain relief.

These are my three favorites. First...

Arnica or Arnica Montana

This is an essential remedy that is effective for pain relief resulting from injuries and trauma. It could help reduce pain, swelling and bruising in the affected area. It may also be taken orally in pills or applied topically as a cream or gel to the injured area. 


We also have bryonia. This is a remedy indicated for pain that worsens with movement and improves with rest. The pain may be sharp and stitching in nature and the affected joint can be hot or swollen. 

Rhus Tox

Lastly, we have Rhus Tox, also called Rhus Toxicodendron. It's a homeopathic remedy derived from the poison ivy plant. It's highly versatile and can address various conditions including arthritic pain, cramps, strains, sprains, restless leg syndrome, flu, viral infections, skin rashes -  like pox, and even shingles. It comes in a variety of forms such as pellets, pills, capsules, liquids, ointments and gels and is highly regarded among homeopathic practitioners. Particularly considered for pain that is worse after initial movement but improves with continued movement. The pain is often accompanied by stiffness and may be relieved by warmth.

Cold Packs and Heating Pads

It's also good to have some cold packs or heating packs pads on hand. These should be a part of your ordinary household supplies. Cold therapy utilizing ice packs or cold compresses is most effective for acute injuries or pain along with inflammation and swelling. It works by numbing the affective area, reducing pain and tenderness, and decreasing swelling and inflammation. While it is commonly used for short term pain, like that from a sprain or a strain, it should be limited to no more than 10 to 20 minutes at a time to prevent skin burns. 

Heat therapy is optimal for muscle pain and stiffness. It functions by increasing blood flow to the area, reducing joint stiffness and muscle spasms, and aiding in the relaxation and loosening of the tissues. Heat can be applied using warm towels, heating pads, or warm packs. It's not recommended for the first 48 hours after an injury - that's when it's best to use ice and precautions should be taken to avoid burns, particularly for individuals with nerve damage that may not feel how hot it is.

In certain cases, you could even use both heat and cold therapy. This may be very helpful. For instance, arthritic patients may use heat for joint stiffness and cold for swelling and acute pain. However, if either treatment exasperates the pain or discomfort, it should be stopped immediately. It is essential to follow a proper sequence, typically starting and ending with cold therapy. Start with the cold, use the heat and end with a cold. Each session of heat or cold. Therapy is usually applied from about ten to 20 minutes, usually less for the cold and longer for the heat. 

Colds and Flus

Okay, so let's delve into how to alleviate cold and flus and other types of respiratory ailments. This is a very extensive list, so I'm going to try to make it simple and short. 


My first go-to is Coptis, C-O-P-T-I-S. It's been used for various inflammatory disorders and related diseases for thousands of years in Chinese medicine and has functions of clearing heat. This is how Chinese often describe inflammatory processes, as heat in the body - drawing dampness and detoxifying. According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, it's amazingly effective for colds and flus associated with fever and sore throat. It can knock a sore throat out in a day or two. You always want to take it as directed. 

Yin Qiao Tablets

The next Chinese herbal formulation is Yin Qiao tablets. These are very effective for cold and flu, but should be taken at the first signs of cold and flu to shorten the severity and duration of the symptoms. If you've had a cold or flu for several days, Yin Qiao probably won't work - it's probably necessary to take Coptis. 


Elderberry cough syrup is also a valuable addition in my medicine cabinet. These fragrant berries aid in preventing or reducing the severity of colds and flus. You could make your own syrup, but you'll need elderberries, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and water. You could add them to a small pot, bring the liquid to a boil over medium to high heat, and once it's bubbling, lower the heat and let it simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. It becomes thick - approximately about 25 to 30 minutes. You want to avoid consuming raw elderberries or their leaves and stems, as they contain a toxic compound that can induce nausea and vomiting. Cooking eliminates this toxin, making elderberry syrup the preferred option. It's probably just easier to go to the health food store and buy elderberry cough syrup. 

Oregano Oil

Next we have oregano oil. Oregano oil works wonders in treating colds and sore throats. I use a tablet of oregano oil, which is emulsified. It's an emulsified tableted oregano oil. You could also inhale its steam by adding a few drops of the oil to hot water and then hold your head over it and breathe it into your lungs and your sinuses. It's important to follow the usage instructions and be mindful of its potent taste. 


Next we have Andrographis. Andrographis is commonly used to address cold symptoms. It may help alleviate cough and sore throat in some individuals with the common cold. Furthermore, it's been observed to reduce the duration and severity of colds and flu symptoms. Andrographis is believed to stimulate the immune system and prevent flu viruses from binding to cells in the body. It's also good for a lot of gastrointestinal flu. 

Neti Pot

For sinus infections, it's always useful to use a neti pot. If you're dealing with chronic allergies, a neti pot can be quite beneficial. It's an irrigation device that utilizes a saline or salt water solution to flush out congested nasal passages. Specifically designed to reduce mucus from the nasal cavity, it proves effective for allergies, sinus infections, and other conditions. Colloidal silver may also be added to the saline to help disinfect the sinus mucous membranes. 

Digestive Health

Next, we're going to move along to digestive health. 

Let's talk about Chinese herbal formulations as well as aloe, slippery elm and activated charcoal. 

Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan

The amazing traditional Chinese formula Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan is an all time favorite for stomach upset, hangovers, and acute gastrointestinal disorders, such as food poisoning, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. This formula really works fast and many people call them magic pills. That's Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan. 

Kang Ning Wan

Another traditional formula is the curing pills or Kang Ning Wan. This helps with any kind of stomach upset, food poisoning, motion sickness, overeating and hangover. These are useful to carry in a car if you get motion sickness or if you're on a boat. 

Aloe Capsules

Aloe capsules are also useful for periodic constipation. Aloe vera is believed to aid in alleviating ulcers and GERD-related symptoms. It could assist in reducing irritation to the stomach and intestines because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Be sure to look for a good quality aloe vera, which is sold as either a juice or a soft gel capsule. 

Slippery Elm Bark

Next, we have slippery elm bark. This is known for its ability to reduce irritation, so it's great to have on hand. It works by forming a soothing film when in contact with the mucous membranes. In other words, it helps the mucous membranes become more mucusy. I would just say this can also relieve irritation and inflammation in the digestive tract, making it useful for conditions like gastritis, peptic ulcers, and enteritis. It is also helpful for facilitating the smooth passage of waste through the digestive system, much like aloe, so it can be combined with aloe. 

Activated Charcoal

Next, we have activated charcoal. Now, activated charcoal plays a critical role in gut cleansing by binding to and eliminating toxins. This is quite useful for food poisoning. Its porous structure effectively removes toxins, reduces bloating, and supports liver function. However, it should not be used long term - it should be just used very short term as it can also absorb your nutrients. It's most effective when taken properly after ingesting toxins like bad food, its effectiveness will diminish with time. While it works against certain toxins, it may not be effective for all substances, especially corrosive ones like acids or alkalis. Activated charcoal is available in powder or capsule form. 

Nux Vomica

As far as homeopathic, there's a couple of them that really work very well for gastrointestinal problems. The first one is Nux Vomica. It proves effective in tackling stomach upsets and headaches triggered by overindulgence in food and alcohol. 


And next you have Aesenicum, which is a go to remedy for instances of food poisoning. So here you have several options for food poisoning, gastrointestinal upsets -  just generally malaise in the stomach. Again, I particularly like the Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan, that traditional Chinese formula. I carry it with me when I travel. It's amazing. 

Ear, Eye, and Dental Care

Let's move on to ear, eye and dental care by talking about saline solutions, hypochlorous solutions, and clove oil. Saline solutions for eye care, they usually are used just to flush the eyes out. Just make sure that the bottle is not expired or that if you're getting a fresh bottle that it hasn't been opened. 

Clove Oil

Clove oil is enriched with eugenol, which serves as also a valuable to have on hand, especially for children. This is for teeth problems because it could numb tooth pain. So you just put a little bit of clove oil on the tooth. Its anti-inflammatory properties relieve the pain of the tooth. Of course, if there's tooth pain, generally you should seek out dental care. This usually means that the tooth is corrupted. 

Sleep Aids

Okay, let's move on to sleep aids. Last podcast I covered melatonin, and so this is. I want to start with melatonin again.


Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body that regulates sleep wake cycles. Supplementing with melatonin may help adjust sleep patterns and alleviate insomnia. Usually you start with like three milligrams and you could slowly go up to ten milligrams if needed. Again, this is taken before sleep as our normal melatonin becomes depleted from artificial light. 


Valerian, which is an herb, is widely used as a sleep aid, and it's known for its potential to enhance sleep quality and reduce anxiety as well. So it could even be taken in the daytime, too. It's available in various forms such as teas, capsules and tinctures, and it's been demonstrated to be effective in helping individuals fall asleep faster, improve overall sleep quality, and spend more time in the deep sleep stage. While it may provide relief for insomnia, it's not. For long term use either. However, melatonin can be used long term. Numerous individuals who've experimented with valerian root report that it typically takes about 30 minutes to take effect. They mention experiencing restful sleep without any grogginess in the morning. While some find the smell to be a little bit offensive, many consider it to be a sign of the fresh product. 


Next, for sleep, we have magnesium. The body needs magnesium and it's not in the soil anymore. So it's rarely in any of the vegetables and fruits that you eat. Very little bit of it gets into it. So many, many people are deficient in magnesium, and it's necessary for at least over 100 different bodily functions. It also is known for its sedative properties though, as it inhibits the sympathetic nervous system -  it plays a crucial role in promoting restful sleep. Deficiencies in magnesium can contribute to pain, discomfort, cramps, muscle spasms, particularly at night, muscle spasms that may hinder sleep. Magnesium L- Threonate is considered optimal for enhancing sleep because this is a form of magnesium that easily crosses the blood brain barrier. 

A few other additional tips for sleep:

  • Avoid eating too close to bedtime as digestion can interfere with sleep. 

  • Ensure that your bedroom is cool and dark. This creates an optimal sleep environment. 

First Aid and Skin Care

So lastly, let's finish up with some first aid and skincare products. 

Hydrogen Peroxide 3%

Everyone should have hydrogen peroxide. It comes as a 3% peroxide and it's both safe and effective for cuts and injuries. I use it also as a mouth rinse every once in a while, which is actually, if you look at the label, that's what it's sold as is a mouth rinse. 

Povidone Iodine

Povidone iodine is also an excellent option for disinfecting skin wounds due to its broad spectrum antimicrobial properties. This natural occurring element is essential for human health and can be found in trace amounts in various sources, including ocean water and rocks. When purchasing, look for povidone iodine10% available in a solution form. To apply, use it as a little cotton ball, or a gauze, allowing it to remain on the wound briefly before rinsing with water for optimal effectiveness. 

Bentonite Clay

Bentonite clay is also a versatile remedy for a range of skin issues, including cuts, scrapes, sunburns, bug bites, poison ivy, blisters, eczema, burns, and even more. Available in a powdered form, this natural occurring clay is mined from the earth, deep in the earth, and is renowned for its absorbent properties. To use it, just mix it with water. You could even mix it with aloe vera or apple cider vinegar depending on the specific skin concern. For scrapes, I use water. For added soothing, use aloe vera and for bug bites, it's better to use the apple cider vinegar. Once the clay paste is dry, rinse it off. It must stay on the skin for a little while to dry out the toxins within the skin. 

Ching Wan Hung

For burns, I like the Chinese formula Ching Wan Hung. It's the number one popular natural product in China and is used to soothe skin burns and other minor issues, as well as pain and itching while keeping the skin hydrated. 

Aloe Vera

Of course, aloe vera is the wonderful go to for burns - sunburns. It's good to have an aloe plant in the house so that you could cut it and use fresh aloe vera if you've burned yourself.

Homeopathic first aid for skin issues are like Hepar Sulph, calendula and Apis. They each have their specific uses, so I'm going to go over them really quick. 

Hepar Sulph

Homeopathic Hepar Sulph is a remedy used for pain in infected wounds like abscesses, especially when the affected area is sensitive to touch and is accompanied by throbbing pain. 


Calendula Homeopathic - calendula is available in pill form or as a solution for wound baths. Calendula is versatile at addressing cold sores, mouth ulcers, cuts and burns.


And homeopathic Apis- this is the honeybee Apis indicated for treating insect bites, stings and allergy reactions. Apis targets the red hot swollen areas often accompanied by stinging pain. So for a wasp sting or other kind of insect sting, you can get a topical apis or you could even take it orally.

Conventional Tools

 Lastly, I have a variety of conventional tools that are essential, so I'm going to give you the list. 

  • Tweezers 

  • thermometer 

  • assortment of sterile bandages of all sizes, 

  • cotton balls, 

  • ace bandage, maybe one or two at least. 

  • Medical tape scissors - you might want to have a couple types of scissors, small and large

  • Ice pack and heating pad

  • Benadryl for allergic reactions 

  • second-skin burn pads which are kind of like gel like pads that are made from pure sterile water. They help the body to heal burns, blisters and abrasions and are cooling and soothing. These pads are intended to offer instant relief, preventing scarring and helping the healing process. They are really fantastic to have on hand. 

Well, I hope this exploration of remedies for a well stocked medicine cabinet has provided you with valuable insights and considerations. Remember, preparedness is key and integrating these remedies into your lifestyle contribute to the overall well being. I wish you health and resilience in your path of natural vitality. Thank you for joining us on this episode. Until next time in two weeks, be well.

Thank you for your time today, and remember that this podcast is made possible by the Bioregulatory Medicine Institute, also known as BRMI, a nonprofit, global, non political, non commercial institute to promote the science and art of bioregulatory medicine. We extend our gratitude to each and every one of you for listening today, and if you haven't already, make sure to visit us at A treasure trove of invaluable information awaits you there. Connect with us across various social media platforms as well. Come and become a member of our thriving tribe. If you've enjoyed today's episode, we invite you to show your support by rating us, leaving us a review, or sharing the podcast within your circle. Our podcast and mission flourish through sharing, and your participation means the world to us. Our organization is sustained by donations, each of which is tax deductible and fuels projects like this. Visit our website, to contribute or simply to explore the wealth of uncensored and impartial information we offer. No contribution is too small. In just two weeks, we'll be back delving into another captivating topic. Until then, we thank you once again for listening. May wellness and wisdom be your path. Be well.


bottom of page