Creating a Natural Medicine Cabinet

Last autumn my life was going bonkers! I had been traveling to New York City from Greenville once a month for a year for a course I took, as well as taking classes in Asheville every month or two (and studying on the weekends I wasn’t there). On top of that I was working full time AND planning a wedding! Needless to say, I was busy and stressed. And it definitely started affecting my health.

The thing that got me through it? Simple, natural medicines that I keep stashed in my bathroom cabinet. These quick-acting herbal liquids have been a lifesaver for me through all those crazy, stressful times – when just my basic healthy habits weren’t quite enough. I’ve got something for sleep, for stress, for colds and stomachaches. I’ve got a bottle I take if everyone around me is starting to get sick and I want to avoid it, and ones to take for a sinus infection or a UTI. And it’s always nice to have a few around for aches, pains and headaches that pop up at the worst possible moment.

So today I’m going to share all these remedies with you. Each one is a synergistic mix of herbs in a liquid alcohol base. This makes the medicine super effective and fast acting. Master herbalists know how to combine herbs in a very specific way to get the most out of them, and the alcohol base gets them right into your bloodstream quickly.

Get To Sleep

My go-to formula when I haven’t been sleeping well is called Suan Zao Ren Tang. It’s perfect to take 30-60 minutes before you head to bed for its calming effects. It also clears a little heat, so if you tend to get hot in the evenings this can cool you down a bit.

Chill Out

Xiao Yao San is the most popular herbal formula in America for good reason. We’re all too stressed out! This formula is the one you want to take when you’re finding yourself easily frustrated and wound too tight. You might also be noticing a tight chest or flank area, tight neck and shoulders, or a headache on the sides of your head. Take this as soon as you start noticing the symptoms, and you can continue to take it 2-3x a day until the stressful situation has resolved. It’s also very safe to take long term, and will even make you more resilient to stress in the long term.

Don’t Get Sick

Have you ever been in the situation where you’ve been traveling a lot and you can almost FEEL everyone else’s germs floating around? Or noticed that your family or co-workers are all coming down with something, and you want to avoid getting sick? Yu Ping Feng San is for these situations. Start taking this immediately when you want to keep from getting sick. However, if you start to show signs of getting sick, don’t take this formula – it will it will hold the virus in and make it harder for your body to get rid of it.

Coming Down With A Cold

If the Yu Ping Feng San didn’t work, or you didn’t have it around, you may start coming down with a cold. There are 2 different formulas for this, depending on the type of cold you tend to get.

If your cold/flu symptoms are body aches, stiff neck, runny nose and headaches, then you’re going to want to take Gui Zhi Tang. However, if you’re more of a sore throat, with maybe some itchy, red eyes, Yin Qiao is your friend. I’ve noticed that people usually tend towards one set of symptoms with every cold or flu they get. In that case, you only need to have one of these on hand. If you switch back and forth, you’ll have both.

Take the appropriate formula as soon as you start to feel the first inkling of a symptom come on. Continue every few hours for 3-5 days to keep it from popping back up again. Also helpful is to take a hot shower, go straight to bed and sleep for as long as you need (it helps to take the next day off and rest – and go see your acupuncturist if you can!)

Ate/Drank Too Much

Kang Ning Wan is a formula for when you eat the wrong thing and it’s disagreeing with you. Pressure or burning below your heart and/or abdominal pain are the tell-tale signs. This also works great for hangovers, food poisoning or the stomach flu. Usually just one dropperful of this stuff is enough to curb those uncomfortable feelings, but for vomiting and diarrhea, you’re going to want to take it more than once. This is my number one recommendation for travelers, because there’s nothing that ruins a trip more than not being able to leave the bathroom!

Sinus Infection

Bi Yan Pian is a great medicine to have on hand if you tend towards sinus infections. You’ll only want to take this if you’ve got an active infection. Along with an acupuncture appointment, you should be feeling relief very soon, and all without antibiotics. Start taking this as soon as the infection starts, 3x a day, then continue with a lesser dose for a few days after the symptoms have subsided. If you’re trying to prevent infections, ongoing acupuncture with a personalized herbal formula will help immensely.


If you tend to get frequent bladder and/or urinary tract infections, Ba Zheng San is great to have on hand and take as soon as symptoms start. Take a large amount (2 droppers full or more) at least 3x a day to start. Once symptoms are subsiding, you can lower the dosage and go down to 1-2x a day. This will take the place of antibiotics – a big welcome to your gut, which suffers with antibiotic usage. However, if your symptoms don’t get better after a few days, go see a doctor.


Causes and treatments for headaches are far reaching. There are so many different types of headaches, occurring in different places in your head, for so many reasons. Severe and/or recurring headaches require a much more in-depth diagnosis and treatment strategy than just a simple, generic herbal formula.

However, for that occasional headache that pops up from stress, caffeine withdrawal, not eating enough, or just can’t think well enough to figure out what it is, it’s nice to have a natural option around instead of popping an Advil or Excedrin. That something is Chuan Xiong Cha Tiao San.

My Back Hurts

Achy back, hip, knee and leg pain responds really well to Du Huo Ji Sheng Tang. This is more for that pain that pops up now and again, and comes from overuse, weak core muscles and that back that just “goes out” every now and again. Just take as needed, and you can take it a few times a day until the pain has resolved and doesn’t come back.

If you’ve got more severe, constant pain, it’s best to get acupuncture along with a more personalized herbal formula.

Just Got Injured

Resinall K is a combination of herbs that stop pain, encourage blood movement and promote the growth of new tissue. Growing new tissue is helpful for many situations, from scraping your knee to tearing a tendon. It’s also great to take post-surgery to speed up healing. 

How Do I Use This Stuff?

Like I mentioned before, I prefer to use a liquid extract because it’s fast acting and easy to take. Unless listed otherwise, start with 1-2 droppers full (one dropper is about 30 drops, but I don’t find it necessary to count) 2-3x a day. Drop the herbs into a cup and splash a little warm or hot water over it. You can drink it back just like that, or if the alcohol is bothersome to you, use boiling water and wait 5 minutes for the alcohol to steam off before drinking.

As we discussed earlier, these formulas are best as “emergency medicine” – they work pretty quickly, and work best for minor issues that come up every now and again. So they’re only addressing your symptoms, but not necessarily the root cause. If you’ve got a severe, ongoing issue, you’re going to want to get a more personalized treatment that can also address the root cause of your condition.

So Where Can I Get Some?

Surprise, surprise, we’ve just started carrying these in the clinic! It’s taken awhile to do our research, and we’re excited to be working with a really high quality herb company in Philadelphia called China Herb Co. They are strong, practitioner only medicines, which means you can’t order them yourself online or pick them up at the health food store. But you can stop by the clinic to get your fix. If you want to make sure we have what you want in stock, you may want to call first – 864-451-4313.



Elizabeth Williams is an acupuncturist in Greenville, South Carolina, specializing in pain management, women’s health, and psycho-emotional issues. She’s passionate about helping people feel their best and sharing her wealth of knowledge with the community. Elizabeth is the owner of Dragonfly Acupuncture & Massage, on Wade Hampton Boulevard. Appointments can be made by calling 864-451-4313, or scheduled online here.