Nature has provided humankind with a treasure trove of health-supporting plants and botanical compounds. However, some notably beneficial synthetic products, often derived from nature, still fall outside of the "natural wellness" field. These items are well established in the area of conventional medicine as reliable pharmaceuticals, and are widely known as “over-the-counter,” or OTC, pharmacy products.
There is some overlap between OTC and natural health products. Aspirin has its roots in 19th-century herbalism, with an enterprising man named Friedrich Bayer discovering that the bark of the white willow tree could be made into an analgesic, commonly known as a pain reliever. Analgesics are one of the most popular OTC categories, along with decongestants, allergy products, products for indigestion and sleep aids.**
OTC pharmacy product ingredients can also be unexpectedly versatile. Salicylic acid, the key component of aspirin, is also found in psoriasis body wash, while diphenydramine HCl is an antihistamine utilized as both a sleep aid and an allergy medicine.** Some of the most widely used over-the-counter pharmacy products are:
Aspirin: A synthesized form of salicylic acid from willow tree bark, aspirin has been widely used for generations. Taken primarily for its analgesic quality, aspirin is also valued as a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). These combined effects make it a go-to medication for various forms of discomfort, including headache, fever, joint pain and muscle soreness. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has suggested that low-dose aspirin, when taken under physician's supervision, may aid in managing the risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular health issues. Enteric-coated tablets help the body to digest the pain-relieving pill comfortably.**
Stool Softener: Docusate sodium is a kind of salt frequently utilized for its stool-softening properties. The compound allows waste material in the bowels to take on more water, aiding its passage from the body during the elimination process. This form of laxative is particularly useful in alleviating constipation.**
Nighttime Sleep Aid: One of the most called-upon sleep aids is the antihistamine diphenydramine HCl. While the compound may be used for allergy relief, its sedative attributes make it helpful for those contending with insomnia and restlessness.**
Acetaminophen: A common OTC medicine, acetaminophen is known as a pain reliever and fever reducer. Unlike similar products, however, the drug does not assist in alleviating inflammation. Another aspect that distinguishes it from other medications in its class is that it tends to be easy on the stomach.**
Ibuprofen: Another prominent non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, ibuprofen is prevalent for the reduction of pain and/or fever. Like other NSAIDS, it is taken for numerous kinds of discomfort, including joint and muscle pain, headache and various forms of swelling and inflammation.**
Antihistamine Diphenhydramine HCl 25 mg: Known as a sleep aid, diphenhydramine HCl is also an effective antihistamine. The compound helps to provide relief for symptoms of allergies such as runny nose and congestion by blocking the histamines that cause allergic reactions. This antihistamine may be particularly useful with seasonal allergies such as hay fever.**
Psoriasis Cream & Wash: Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that affects more than five million American adults. It usually involves patches of irritated red skin that may be itchy and uncomfortable. Psoriasis body wash features salicylic acid, along with aloe vera and other herbal extracts to gently cleanse the skin. Psoriasis cream also contains aloe vera, as well as sea salt, to provide topical relief for the condition's itching and discomfort.**
Hydrogen Peroxide: This simple compound consists of hydrogen and oxygen in a combination that is widely recognized for its sterilizing antimicrobial effect. As a liquid, hydrogen peroxide has an extensive history of use as a disinfectant on minor cuts. It also may be mixed with water and utilized as a cleansing mouthwash.**
Gas Relief: A common gas relief product is simethicone, a compound used to ease bloating and pressure caused by gas in the digestive tract. Simethicone does not reduce gas formation in the stomach, but instead encourages its exit from the body.**
Over-the-Counter Pharmacy Products
These over-the-counter pharmacy products are available in numerous forms, including tablets, chewables, softgels, liquids and creams.
Over-the-Counter Pharmacy Products Directions for Use
Use these OTC products as directed, and consult your physician with any concerns. These medications are generally intended for short-term use only. Dosage varies based on certain ingredients. Tablet amounts may range widely, from 25 mg to 500 mg.**