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Are Over-The-Counter Medicines Making You Sick?

“Food is thy medicine”…. but can medicine be thy food?

Well yes it can. There are certain hidden ingredients labeled “inactive” in several over-the-counter and prescription based drugs that could be harming you and your family. The fact that they are called “inactive” is a detraction from what they really are…anything you put in your body is active and here’s the information you need to know.

Let me start by telling you a personal story…

A few years ago I had a crazy metallic taste develop in my mouth that I just couldn’t get rid of. It goes without saying, it was annoying and very alarming to be tasting metal in my mouth on a constant basis. As a result, I went to my acupuncturist and my regular doctor looking for answers. They had me eliminate fish from my diet (because of possible mercury poisoning), had my blood checked, and they did everything possible to find out what the heck was happening. No one could figure it out even after all the tests came back.

There was only one pharmaceutical drug I was taking at the time – a little blue birth control pill. To my surprise, my pharmacist made the decision to give me the generic version instead of the brand version that month. Of course my acupuncturist and doctor both asked me if I had been taking any new drugs/vitamins, etc – and my answer was no – but little did I realize at the time I was taking something totally different. Generic versions of pills can contain all sorts of additives, artificial colors and ingredients that make them chemically different from the brand version. It is a routine practice for drug companies to vary the exact combination of “inactive” ingredients to avoid patent infringement on brand name drugs and to make their appearance more appealing and last longer on the shelf .

Shortly, after I switched back to my brand version of birth control pills, the metallic taste in my mouth magically disappeared. (FYI – 2 years ago, I decided to stop taking birth control pills because I did not like what I uncovered about them and regret taking them at all, but that’s a topic for another time).

Finally figuring out that the generic version of the drug was quite different than the original was ground breaking to my understanding what “inactive” ingredients can do to you.

And that’s why I decided to look into the most popular household cold and flu medicines out there and investigate the actual ingredients in them.


Cold medicines like NYQUIL, Robitussin, Alka Seltzer and Triaminic have been around for decades and you, as well as your grandparents have probably used them.  I still remember the taste of original orange flavored Triaminic – as my parents gave it to me every time I had a cold.

The main problem with many of these drugs is that back in the day the FDA did not perform rigorous testing on them. Instead they were only required to give them a stamp of GRAS or “Generally Regarded As Safe” and many of the “inactive” ingredients were not sufficiently tested.  Although new drugs are tested more thoroughly now, drugs like “pseudoephedrine” were often grandfathered in.

Are these medicines really healing us or just putting a bandaid on symptoms that have no effect on us actually getting better?

According to Dr. Bruce Barrett, a leading cold researcher at the University of Wisconsin, cough and cold drugs have an effectiveness rate of only 20% of reducing symptoms and virtually zero effectiveness in actually removing the bacteria or virus out from your system.

Dr. Michael Carome, Deputy Director of the advocacy group Public Citizen, agrees. He states that these drugs have more debilitating side effects than benefit.  For example, decongestants can work in reverse and cause rebound stuffiness and cardiac arrhythmia; cough syrups make you drowsy, fever reducers like acetaminophen can wreak havoc on your liver, while others can irritate your gastrointestinal system.


So why do so many people still take these over-the-counter drugs?

A study published in 2010 by Harvard Medical School found that placebo pills are just as effective as taking drugs when it comes to non-life-threatening chronic conditions. Which basically means our belief that something is working is sometimes all we need! The placebo effect has been documented over centuries and several natural medicine doctors believe our thoughts can be powerful healers.

Additionally, when drug manufacturers create marketing campaigns depicting quick recovery from illness after consuming their products of families going from in-the-bed sick back to school and/or work in commercials and advertisements – our brains get hooked to the message and we believe these drugs are actually working, when all they are doing is producing side effects we could definitely live without as well as all exposing us to potentially toxic and unhealthy inactive ingredients.

Most of the over-the-counter medicines you find at drug stores have several inactive ingredients that could be harming you with substances you didn’t even know you were consuming.  



The doctors that belong to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called on “All physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.”

If you are trying to remove GMOs from your diet – you’ve got to make sure to look in your medicine cabinet too. All of these over-the-counter cold and flu remedies here listed have potential ingredients that contain GMOs. Many of the ingredients are hidden sources of GMOs. (See a full list of GMO ingredients here)

For example, notice the partially hydrogenated cottonseed & soy oil a.k.a. transfat in Zicam, high fructose corn syrup in NYQUIL and Robitussin, and soy lecithin in Halls cough drops.

There have been no long term human studies on GMOs and preliminary studies on animals show horrific consequences.

  • A study showed GMOs caused toxic and allergic reactions, sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals.
  • Another study revealed that female rats fed GMO soy for 15 months showed significant health issues in their uterus and reproductive cycle, compared to rats fed organic soy or those raised without soy.
  • A 2009 French Study concluded that Glyphosate (used on GMO soy) can kill the cells in the outer layer of the human placenta, the organ that connects the mother to her fetus, providing nutrients and oxygen and emptying waste products.
  • A Russian study conducted on hamsters that were fed GMO soy diets for two years over three generations found that by the third generation, most of the hamsters lost the ability to have babies, showed slower growth, and suffered a higher mortality rate.

Chemical Preservatives

Sodium Benzoate and/or Benzoic Acid are cautionary preservatives found in cough syrups like Robitussin. The Mayo Clinic reported that this preservative increases hyperactivity in children. Also, when sodium benzoate combines with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), it can form benzene, carcinogen that damages DNA in cells and accelerates aging.

Dimethylpolysiloxane is an anti-foaming agent and type of silicone used in caulks and sealants and as a filler for breast implants. It’s commonly used in fried fast food items – even McDonald’s new Fish McNuggets have this ingredient added to it. It’s also the key ingredient in silly putty. This agent might not kill you – but do we really need to be consuming a chemical cocktail of synthetic ingredients when we are sick or at all?

Artificial Sugars

Saccarin (a.k.a Sweet n’ Low), Aspartame, Sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda), Acesulfame Potassium, etc. are all chemically derived sugars with absolutely no nutritional value at all and can be dangerous.

Saccarin which is found in Robitussin and NYQUIL is one to avoid at ALL costs. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has reported the studies showing saccharin causes cancer in the urinary bladder, lungs, ovaries, uterus, and other organs in animals and also increases the potency of other cancer-causing chemicals.

Over 10,000 complaints have been filed with the FDA on Aspartame since 1980 and has actually never been proven to be safe before it was approved for use in our food supply. It has been linked to diabetes, auto-immune disorders, depression (which can cause you to eat more – once again), birth defects, and several forms of cancer.

CSPI also states Acesulfame-K or Acesulfame Potassium is anything but safe. Two rat studies suggest that the additive might cause cancer, but these studies were never addressed by the FDA before they approved the substance to also be used by in 1970. In addition, it is mentioned that large doses of acetoacetamide (a breakdown product of this sugar) have been shown to affect the thyroid in rats, rabbits, and dogs. This toxic sugar substitute can be found in Alka Seltzer, Triaminic and NYQUIL.

Artificial Colors 

Can they really call artificial dye “inactive” when it has been proven to cause hyperactivity in children?  All of these drugs – NYQUIL, Mucinex, Robitussin, Halls, Alka Seltzer, Triaminic, and Zicam have artifical colors. These artificial colors are made in a lab with same chemicals used in petroleum production and are considered known carcinogens by many consumer watch agencies. How is taking petroleum which is used in gasoline going to help your immune system long term? Why are these substances even in medicines to begin with? Aren’t medicines suppose to heal you?

So What Do You Do The Next Time You Get A Cold/Allergies/Flu? 

There are a LOT of natural remedies out there that work…. so I want to share the top 5 that have worked for me. Please note these remedies are just on top of my regular habits of exercise, taking probiotics, eating a plant-based diet and drinking warm water with lemon and cayenne first thing every morning that all improve my immune system and help me ward off colds as much as possible.


  1. Use A Neti Pot – neti pot is a ceramic pot that looks like a cross between a small teapot and Aladdin’s magic lamp and used to irrigate the nasal cavities and has been used for centuries! Almost immediately at the sign of a cold, I grab my netty pot, filtered water (very important that it is filtered), some salt and a little bit of baking soda and go straight into my bathroom to clean out my nasal passages. This practice usually reduces the amount of time I have a cold or immediately stops it from becoming full blown.  Also, I love using it in allergy season or when I’ve been around allergens in an old house with mold or around animals I am allergic to.
  2. Avoid Sugar Like the Plague – Sugar absolutely wreaks havoc on the body when you aren’t sick, but when you are sick and you eat sugar – you are multiplying the harmful effects further weakening the immune system and creating even more inflammation in your body.  Sugar is one the key ingredients that bacteria and viruses feed off in your body, that’s why if you get a cold it’s important to stay away from candy, cakes, ice-cream, all those types of items that are extraordinary high in sugar if you want to get better fast.
  3. Juice with Ginger and Garlic – If you can stand it, add garlic and ginger root to your green juice. They both have amazing anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can get you better in no time!  I haven’t had a cold last more than 2 days as a result of drinking green juice like this on a regular basis, especially when I have symptoms of a cold.
  4. Stay Hydrated – I avoid caffeine and drink an extraordinary amount of water based substances like hot soups, hot teas and just plain water.  I don’t recommend gatorade – but these alternatives instead.  Also – if you have kids, try this homemade version of Pedialyte – you don’t want to go anywhere near that branded hoax of a product either.
  5. Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs – When I get sick I rarely go to a conventional medical doctor now – I almost always first see my Acupuncturist. A treatment is sometimes all I need to help move a virus or bacteria infection out of my system.  Also – I take combination of medicinal Chinese herbs as soon as I get a sign of a cold (usually the first sign for me is a scratchy throat) and/or to lessen the severity or duration of colds. One time when I had a crazy astronomical fever, I was able to reduce it just by taking these herbs. (Please note – I am not a doctor or Chinese medicine practitioner  please do not use this information as medical advice for you personally.)

My goal in sharing this information with you is not to scare you into believing this stuff will kill you (although, it likely will slowly over time), but to inspire you to look at all the chemicals that being pushed at us by the pharmaceutical and food industries.  We don’t need to consume these chemicals – our bodies were not made to consume them and we certaintly don’t need them to “feel better.”

If you think this post could benefit someone in your life – please share it – you could be a life saver.

Wishing You The Best Health Always,

Food Babe


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227 responses to “Are Over-The-Counter Medicines Making You Sick?

  1. I’m interested in the BC, too. I took it for only about 4 months fifteen years ago, but all my daughters take something, and they’ll be doing it for years. So I’d really like to know about it.

    I’m also interested in your thoughts on the metallic or dry mouth. I have that as a result of taking Nortriptyline. I rinse with Biotene, which helps. My dentist says to use it because it re-establishes the enzymes in the mouth.

  2. I am also very curious to know what you do for a birth control. I really don’t like the idea of added hormones in my body but I also don’t want children right now.

    1. You should look into natural family planning or Creighton Method. Some are linked to religious beliefs but we did it bc we hated hormones and still needed to wait for babies. Takes a few months to track cycle but WORTH IT IN EVERY WAY!!!!

  3. I took BC for a couple of months between my children and it made me incredibly nauseous. I went to a half dose my third month and still the illness. So I quit. I have friends that swear by it and I didn’t survive three months.

  4. Hylands cold & cough – all homeopathic ingredients and it works. Also Sambucus for immune support-sugar free, of course.

  5. I have to add a litttle bit of practical information. I am a pharmacist and have some expertise in this area (all you readers who are anti-medicine, don’t tune out). Almost ALL medications have added, inactive ingredients called excipients. Yes, brand-name meds do too. Excipients are not put in there to deceive or hurt you. They are put in there to hold the pill together, to form it into a unique, distinguishable pill for dispensing and identification purposes. Otherwise, we would all be scooping inaccurate doses of powders into our mouths. Pills make for accurate dosing, the ability to actually swallow your medication with relative ease, and help us all know what medication we’re actually taking. There are also numerous types ofextended release formulations which help medications last longer in your system. As for the danger of these excipients, we consume such minute amounts of them, I have a difficult time imagining they do any harm. And this goes for pretty much all pills-prescriptions, OTC, vitamins, supplements, etc.

    I see no need for panic or concern unless someone is taking hundreds of pills a day.

    1. Thanks for the pharmacy perspective! It’s good to have experts share their knowledge, especially as to the utility of certain things (I assume everything does have some purpose!).

      I’m a Health Services Research / Health Policy student, and I’ve focused mainly on mental health. I’d like to just add that there are documented cases where people are responding differently to these fillers. Some people for example find that the generic version of certain antipsychotics does not work for them (or has some other side effects). And from what I’ve read online with people experimenting with different forms of birth control, people are reacting differently to those formulations as well.

      As a pharmacist, do you know of any research that’s being conducted into this? I know you feel that the amounts are so small that it doesn’t seem like it would play a role. But I am inclined to still wonder whether that’s enough, to trust our instincts I mean. It does seem that people react differently to different formulations, especially if the drugs in question are psycho-active, or they are hormone-based (birth control).

      I think generic drugs are great, and help keep costs down and make medications affordable for many people. I just wonder, because they might not be tested in the same rigorous way as brand name drugs (*rigorous being quite generous a word here anyway) whether we really know ANYTHING about what effects these fillers might have, especially when combined in different ways with the active drug AND whatever other medications a person might be taking. Thanks for your input! I’m just really curious about this.

      1. Also a pharmacist! Kind of turned off by the phrase, “to my surprise, my pharmacist made the decision to give me the generic version…..”. In my state, I have to give you the generic version if one becomes available because it is state law I do so. Not because I personally decide to do so (or even agree with that law, for that matter). However, I always make it a point to let the patient know that by law this change must be made and what they can do if it is something they do not want. I’m not sure about the laws in your state, but hopefully, the pharmacist at least explained to you the switch before you purchased your rx! Otherwise, great and informative blog!

  6. I am very interested in reading about what you found out about birth control pills. I don’t take them anymore, but I have for years and I often suspect that they contributed to my endometriosis and infertility.

  7. Thanks so much Vani for this super in-depth analysis of the ingredients in over-the-counter cold and flu medicines! Like you, a few years ago I decided to remove over-the-counter medicines from our home, and the results have been amazing.

    The information you share with others is so beneficial, especially at this time. I recently wrote about the importance of listening to your symptoms instead of rushing out and taking an over-the-counter fix to mask them. Symptoms occur to tell us something…we just need to learn to listen.

    Thanks for being you, and for helping to spread the word! I’ll definitely be sharing this message with others. 🙂

  8. Hey Vani,

    You should really really really write about birth control pills/healthier birth control options. I think I stopped taking them around the same time as you actually, about two years ago.

    Unfortunately we don’t track the side effects of any drugs properly AT ALL. Even when I told my doctor the side effects I was having, she didn’t believe me (SHE!). “Those side effects occur very rarely, I doubt you are having them from the pills.”

    I think it’s a very important women’s health issue, one that isn’t addressed enough. We are so focused on just getting people on some kind of birth control method, that we have all these crazy harmful drugs out there that really don’t undergo strict enough scrutiny. It’s really a bad game that women have to play. Please write about it! I’m sure many of your readers agree.

    1. I’ve tried 3 different hormonal birth control methods at 3 different times in my life, in part to regulate cycles…prescribed by male doctors. All three prescriptions produced immediate and violently negative reactions, yielding disheartening, long-term side effects. My body does *not* respond well to the heavy-handed introduction of artificial hormones.

    2. I have tried different pills and two more different methods. I just can’t handle the effect they have in my body. I get terrible migraines and breast pain. I just don’t take them anymore. I guess the best way to avoid getting pregnant is the natural way.

  9. Wanting to stay away from hormones i ditched my bc years ago & now use FAM (fertility awareness method). Its not for everyone but it has worked well for me.

    1. Yes! Learning the Fertility Awareness Method is such an eye-opening experience. All women should know about it, but it will never be taught to the masses because it’s so much easier to tell women to take a pill. If you care enough about your health to eat healthier than the average person, then you owe it to yourself to learn this method. I’ve had two children, when planned, and have had no unplanned pregnancies. It’s not as easy as taking a pill, but like eating healthy, it’s worth it. No doctor’s visits, no cost, no side effects, no wondering what might be long-term effects of pills. The best book for learning about it: Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler

    2. I also do NFP (natural family planning). I have never taken birth control not even to regulate my irregular cycle. I have two planned children (2 – 1/2 years apart) and my husband and I are currently planning on having another child.

      I also recommend the book Alicia mentioned “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler

      1. Skip the pills for Birth Control.
        Go with an IUD.
        It’s good for at least 10 years.
        Worth every single cent.

  10. One of the best blessings in disguise in relation to pharmaceutical drugs is that I have been pregnant or breastfeeding since 2009. I haven’t taken any over the counter medicines in that time aside from Panadol and believe I’ll continue this habit into the future.

  11. I found our site through 100days of real food. I have been around natural medicine since I was a kid and I am a huge advocate for it. I have been off bc for almost a year due to complications they left out, and I didn’t know to ask. I now suffer from chronic cysts on my ovaries and live with the fear I may not b able to have children thanks to mirena. After discovering the problem, I wanted it out, not only had it caused a huge cyst, but I literally felt insane. I am in a committed relationship with the man I will spend my life with, so I will never take bc again. I have gotten many weird reactions to this, but our bodies were made to cycle, anyone who tells you it’s ok to not get a period for years, should lose their license. I’m so glad I found your sites, lots of great info!

  12. Hey nut job, I didn’t bother reading this whole article because by the time I got to your second OTC listed, I realized it’s easier for you to lie about the product for the convenience of your story. However, Mucinex does NOT contain the ingredients you have listed. I wonder how many of your other stories have falsified and misleading information. To me, you have no credibility.

    1. An FYI mucinex has an active ingredient call guaifenesin. This has a side effect among others that may cause kidney stones… People should educate themselves with what they are putting in their mouth. I know for a fact that this is a side effect… My husband is suffering from them right now because of the mucinex!

  13. I’m always blown away by your posts! I can’t believe that all of these unnecessary ingredients are in our food, much less our MEDICINE! Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about BC.

  14. I’m interested in what you found out about birth control too. I took it for a few months but it made me feel so odd, and that was over 7 years ago. I don’t take any medicines for the same reason.

  15. I too am very interested in what you’ve found out about bc pills. I only took them for 4 months(many years ago) and they greatly effected me. I took Yaz for 3 weeks and started having breathing problems. Not the kind they warn you about on the box insert caused by a blood clot. It was more like when you are in a high altitude and can’t get enough oxygen out of the air. I live in Charlotte and it was summertime and so humid. Very scary to feel like you can’t breath and are going to pass out for days. I found other people on the internet who experienced the same symptoms in week 3 of taking this drug. I called my doctor and she said it was impossible that this drug could do that because it’s not listed anywhere as a possible side effect. Birth control pills also negatively effect my sex drive (I had none from the first week I took them). Since going off them, my sex drive never fully returned to what it was, and I am struggling with infertility (no idea if that related. might have happened anyway). I just wanted to share my experience and await whatever research you dig up. I can’t imagine I’ll ever take hormones (aside from fertility drugs) again.

  16. Do you have kids and if so, what do you give them? My kids are good eaters, but I have hard time imagining them with a cayenne pepper drink when they are sick. 🙂

    1. I give my kids (& myself because I can’t handle cayenne) ginger tea: just steep a slice or two of ginger root in hot water, add a slice of lemon & honey.
      Helps every time.

    2. Kids can take a high-quality food-based Vitamin C from the health food store (not the drugstore they carry artificial junk). You can also pick up some high-quality refrigerated probiotics from the health food store. Again do not go to a drugstore they carry artificial synthetic vitamins that are NOT recognized by the body. You need food-based vitamins… ask the store clerk and they will help you.

  17. I would love to read your story on BC…. I have been on BC since I was 16 and soon to be 30! I have been on the whole food “journey” for about a year now. The thought of a pill to regulate my hormones drives me crazy when I eat so clean now! But I am scared of getting pregnant! :/

  18. I am so very interested in why you decided to stop taking birth control pills. I have been contemplating stopping as well because I don’t like the idea of putting hormones in my body, and have also heard of negative side effects. Please share your story!

  19. I’m surprised that someone as smart and food savvy as yourself would even consider taking artificial birth control. The dangers of this terribly processed and dangerous drug could far outweigh some of the food dangers that you warn us of. Please do some research on the sympto-thermal method of Natural Family Planning. When used properly, it is as effective as the Pill, requires no warning labels and is instantly reversible when you do want to achieve pregnancy. Just reading the insert in a box of Pills is enough to scare me off them!

    1. Which is why she stopped taking them 2 years ago! One doesn’t go 100% organic and natural overnight!

  20. Wait, no, can we get back to what you found out about birth control pills? I’ve been very curious about this topic for some time now since I’ve been able to link some of the drastic changes in my health around changes in birth control/decisions to stop using it but all my doctors have told me that there’s no direct connection between the birth control I was taking and the side effects I was having. Needless to say, I’m skeptical.

  21. I’d really be interested to read an article on the BC pill. I recently stopped taking it due to health issues I was experiencing, to try to eliminate every possible cause. 7 months later I feel better than I have in ages! I wish I’d “quit” it sooner! Also 100% agree with the use of TCM and herbs to fight off cold & flu! It’s amazing stuff 🙂

  22. I’m fascinated by this topic. I have a food allergic kid, and Benadryl is one line of defense against accidental ingestion. I get frustrated that I can’t find some without :anhydrous citric acid, D&C red no. 33, FD&C red no. 40, flavors, glycerin, monoammonium glycyrrhizinate, poloxamer 407, purified water, sodium benzoate, sodium chloride, sodium citrate, [and] sucrose.” Even the dye-free kind has “anhydrous citric acid, carboxymethylcellulose sodium, flavors, glycerin, purified water, saccharin sodium, sodium benzoate, sodium citrate, [and] sorbitol solution.” We don’t have a choice – we HAVE to have diphenhydramine for him, and I haven’t found anything without such a crazy list of ingredients!

    1. My daughter has a lot of allergies and we give her the zyrtec (CVS version) and I can’t stand having to give her this stuff. I feel your pain!

  23. Thank you for this article. I am feeling sick and refuse to take meds so I’m drinking a juice with some of the veggies you recommended.

  24. Great article as usual.
    Telling parallels between pharmaceutical drugs and pesticides. Who decides which are the active vs. the “inactive” or “inert” ingredients”? An independent science lab? A government regulatory agency? Noooo, the manufacturer! Oh where to hide controversial health and environmental hazards to avoid scrutiny, analysis and possible regulation? Of course we’ll just dub them “inert”. Sounds so friendly so harmless. No one will pay attention to them. Often as in the case of the toxic herbicide Roundup, the substances classed as inert are more potent and harmful than the active ingredients as well as chemically reacting with the active ingredients making them in combination more dangerous and persistent in the environment.
    Thanks for looking out for public health! Go food babe!

  25. Try oil pulling as a remedy / detox for many ailments, including colds and flu. Thanks Food Babe for helping me clean out my medicine cabinet of these dangerous toxic over the counter cold remedies. 🙂

  26. So glad to see pharmacists joining in-I agree more testing is needed to document these additives effects. I avoid all artificial ingredients and medications like the plague. I use turmeric or grated ginger instead of nsaids, eat a whole foods diet, fermented vegetables, all organic, you know the drill. I have a hx of being very obese and lost a massive amount of weight by changing my diet and taking up exercise (6 years now). When I first started I drank crystal light. The stomach cramps and distention are something you can’t imagine. Last fall I had tonsillectomy and was prescribed liquid vicodin. It tasted sweet (silent screams of NOOOO in my head). I needed it q3-4hr ATC for 12 straight days! I gained 3 lbs . The only food I could consume was some kabocha squash pureed and thinned with homemade chicken stock (a few spoonfulls as pain would then become too much), warmed chicken stock, and diluted kombucha/water. Constant sips of water. I suspected there was probably a few artificial sweeteners in that vicodin syrup but there was no alternative (according to them). Being in such pain and unable to speak, and having a husband who felt uncomfortable questioning the pharmacist, I sucked it up. It just seemed like it took a long time to get back to myself after that. I never thought about the medication I would be prescribed going into it. I prepared my squash, chicken stock, throat coat tea. Thought I was ready and then, whaaaaaa? When I took that syrup and tasted that…chemical sweet flavor I just died! So anyone out there who may find themselves in this situation be aware and ask questions beforehand while you can still speak. I felt like I was a zombie for weeks. Not sure how long artificial sweeteners negative effects typically last or what exactly was in that vicodin syrup. I’m afraid to look.

  27. I’m over 60 and gained many pounds…. went to my Dr. and I say that lightly…was thouroghly discusted in how he would not even do a thyroid test for me…said his sister had it done and it was a waste of time..and money… my ins covers blood tests…and when he told me that I left his practice…quacks… anyway went to my hubbys Dr. and he not only did the thyroid test but the complete hormone test… found that at age 55 my hormones were completely gone… hense my weight gain and many other things. I was immediatly put on compounded DHEA and armour thyroid. never look at hormones as something you don’t need cause if you do you will not be in balance… after many yrs of tweaking to get a balance I now have lost 54 pounds and my life is back to where it should have been 15 yrs ago. I now weigh what I was before I gained all that weight. you are what you eat…. that is the best information ever… we just need to remember it when faced with the junk crap that’s out there. I try now to eat non gmo products only …

  28. Birth control, also known as contraception and fertility control, are methods or devices used to prevent pregnancy.[1] Planning and provision of birth control is called family planning.Safe sex, such as the use of male or female condoms, can also help prevent transmission of sexually transmitted infections.;:`*

    Our very own blog

  29. I had the same problem! I mean metallic taste in my mouth. I went first to my primary health care provider–he’s not a mainstream quack. After following his instructions, which were a soup made of goat testicles, taken three times daily, and slicing open the gullet of a shoat to offer blood of the dirty beast to the gods of the western winds, I found that the metallic taste was still there. I then went to a hospital and got a CT scan and they found out that I had a brain tumor. You can’t win them all!

  30. Read “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. My hubby and I have been practicing the FAM(Fertility Awareness Method) for almost 3 years now and have avoided pregnancy successfully without any harmful chemicals or BC. IT’s awesome!!

  31. One of the most effective cold remedies I’ve found came from an elderly Chinese neighbor many years ago: Take a large purple onion and a large lemon, and cut them into quarters, skins and all. Boil for 15 minutes. Strain off the lovely pink liquid, add a little bit of honey, and drink like tea.

    Clears the sinuses, sort of, and makes you feel much better. Seems to get rid of the cold more quickly, too. Seems like your type of DIY med, give it a shot next time you get sick!

    1. I suggest something like Elderberry extract in distilled water or something similar. I didn’t think Umcka worked very well for my kids like when I tried the syrup version of Sambucus or Sambucol. The inactive ingredients in the syrup bottles aren’t great. The Umcka hot drink doesn’t have great inactive ingredients either. But really just about anything natural can be bad with all the inactive ingredients added to it to make things tasty and pliable. I have a hard time trying to find the ‘right’ kinds of vitamins/supplements that is pure and doesn’t bother me. So I’ve begun looking into extracts instead.

      1. Thank you, Linda!! I’ll certainly try the Elderberry extract, hopefully it’ll be one of the best remedies from now and on!

    1. I think if it were me I would use White Willow Bark extract in an organic juice. The are no inactive ingredients in the brand I looked at.

      1. The brand I looked up is called Nature’s Answer. If you google nature’s answer you will find their website and click on the alcohol-free extracts. I don’t know how old your child is but I am guessing half dose is needed? I don’t buy directly from them but get their products from a cheaper vitamin company to save $$$.

      2. White Willow Bark shouldnt be given to children with fevers because it can cause Reye’s syndrome.

  32. I am against medication in general and thankfully I am pretty healthy, but there are times when I get a really bad cold or an extremely sore throat (strep), and in those instances I have to rely on certain meds to relieve pain and/or fever. I noticed that extra strength olive leaf extract helps fight flu and major colds, also oregano oil. I take at least 5000mg of vitC a day to help my immune system. However, I would like to know what could be given to young kids (6-9 years old) to help with pain or fever. I had to give children’s dye-free Motrin to my daughter when she was extremely miserable and feverish, and that medication does not have most of “bad” ingredients listed. I am all for natural stuff and juicing, but we cannot afford a juicer at this time and therefore I can’t provide fresh squeezed green juice to my family to keep them healthy.

  33. EXCELLENT article! I am a firm believer of healing with natural remedies. Over the counter products only mask flu/cold systems, but what about your immune system? It need’s healing also! I use oregano oil for sinus inflammation and onsets of a cold/flu. Source Naturals also makes a great supplement called Wellness Formula. I like to incorporate that into my supplement regime during the winter months as a preventative!

  34. Dear Food babe,
    Please make another article about birth control. I gained weight, have hypothyroidism, my hair is falling out. I’m seriously considering stop taking them, but I definitely don’t want to get pregnant.
    Please let us know what you decided and found out!
    Thanks in advance!

  35. Thank you for this! I haven’t bought or used any of these products in what feels like forever, but this will be great to share with others and really explain WHY I skip OTC meds, and, genreally, just let things run their course.

    Also, in reference to your aside:
    ” FYI – 2 years ago, I decided to stop taking birth control pills because I did not like what I uncovered about them and regret taking them at all, but that’s a topic for another time.”

    I really hope you do cover this one day! I’m fascinated by hearing about others experiences stopping birth control pills and their reasons why. I stopped about 2 years ago as well, and, though things were pretty hellish immediately after (I gained about 20lbs, but also broke out with the most horrific acne and, of course, still have the scars), I am so, so glad I did ever since!

  36. In re: Sugar as viral breeding ground – I think it’s not just important, but CRUCIAL to remember that carbs are essentially sugars too, and favor viral replication.

    Twice over the last few years I’ve had a cold or flu whose symptoms were miraculously minimal! The disease still ran its course, went through all the normal stages – but I’d only know that because for a few minutes each day I’d have one of the normal symptoms, like sore throat, aches, runny nose. I realized that both those times, I’d been on a strict low carb diet. This last time, I experiemented with eating sugary stuff on two separate days, and both those days, the symptoms increased exponentially!

    So, since OTC meds are (of course) only symptom-reducers, they’re totally unnecessary!

    Also, a couple of decades ago I was getting flu episodes that maddeningly would run their course, then immediately start all over again, sometimes three times in a row! It was horrible. It wasn’t till much later that I realized, I’d decided to just start taking OTC meds at the first sign of a problem, and not stop. In other words, the symptoms – which seem mostly to be about expelling toxins – were never allowed to happen! Jeez, no wonder I just stayed sick!

    1. I should also have said, another cold or flu I had came directly on the heels of eating a bunch of halloween candy, when my system wasn’t used to carbs, much less a candy binge.

      This made me realize how damaging it is to our health, in the US anyway, to have this tradition, and RIGHT when the weather tends to change. I wonder how many so-called “seasonal” colds are actually “halloween” colds!

  37. Everytime I’m not feeling well, my mom always says, “drink water and go outside and get some Vitamin D”! Best bit of advice.

  38. It would be wonderful if you could investigate birth control & holistic alternatives. I don’t currently take it but I am getting married in a few months & will have to start taking something. I know it would be a big undertaking, but I don’t take any medicine daily & only use homeopathic so I am terrified to get on the pill. Thank you!

    1. Study the rhythm method. I stopped taking birth control when my husband and I wanted to get pregnant with our first child nearly 6 years ago. I haven’t taken birth control since and have had perfect success!

  39. My young son has severe seasonal allergies and cannot function without his meds. I would love to see you do a similar study on those.

  40. What are your thoughts on essential oils to treat medical issues? Have a friend that raves about it.

  41. If the Chinese are so health conscious, why do they use silica and heavy metals in their food products? It’s a total oxymoron.

  42. I would love to hear what you found out about birth control pills too. I was on them for about 3 years and have now been off them for 16 months. I felt like a different person while on the ‘pill’. I am so glad I went off BC and I only wish I had never started my prescription. My friends and even some family (my grandma!) think I am crazy for not being on birth control and I would love to forward them the dirt you uncovered.

    As a note to some people on here, the IUD, Nuvaring, many other forms of BC still involve the same hormones and chemicals found in the pill. They are NOT a safe alternative to the actual pill. The safest, most effective alternative method is using condoms.

  43. Hi Vani! Thanks for all your great work once again! I just wanted to leave you a note to say that I too would really love to hear more about your findings on birth control pills. I’ve been on them for about 25 years and have been trying to encourage my hubby to get a vasectomy and I’m sure that your findings might help. Thank you!

  44. I’m also a pharmacist. While anyone can appreciate the efforts you make to warn the general consumer about product ingredients, we healthcare providers are seemingly always fielding questions that are sparked by stories like this one. Don’t get me wrong… I love questions, especially controversial ones, but I have to ask one or two of you. What is the reference for the Harvard study mentioned? What type of doctors are the ones mentioned in the article? As for the topic at hand, I think our colleague Harry summed it up fairly well, and another pharmacist mentIoned the generic vs brand name legal dispensing requirements. I don’t disagree that some companies may use grandfathered (GRAS) ingredients, but I think some restraint is warranted before we throw all the drug companies under the bus. After all, many of these companies do extensive research on their products and many use that research to continually push for better understanding and cures for much more.

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