For this assignment I talked to two different groups of friends. The differences between these two was striking. One group are my rock climbing, outdoorsy, rarely-bathed friends. The other group is my nerdy, Dungeons-and-Dragons-playing, person you call if your computer is acting up friends.
Among my grungy rock climber friends, they all reported getting sick very rarely. I attribute this to eating well, getting regular vigorous exercise, and living relatively low-stress lifestyles. When they do get sick, however, they said that they all prefer “natural” medicines like the things you would expect to find at Whole Foods. One that they all swore by is a brand called Umcka. Umcka is a tincture whose main ingredient is an extract of the root of the umckaloabo or South African geranium plant (Pelargonium sidoides). Much to my surprise there is actually a lot of good research about the effectiveness of umckaloabo for treating bronchitis. It has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of bouts of bronchitis (Ulbricht, et al., 2010). However, the research that I found said that, as with most herbal medicines, dosing is difficult to determine and safety is not determined (Ulbricht, et al., 2010).
My other friend group (the “nerds” [I say this totally affectionately]) all said that they mostly look at packaging, brand name, price, and symptoms they want to treat clearly listed on the packaging. I know that a few of them have untreated hypertension and felt compelled to inform them that every pharmacy will have a pharmacist available to assist with selecting appropriate and effective medications. Many OTC cough medicines have pseudoephedrine (an alpha- and beta-adrenergic agonist) and or phenylephrine (an alpha-adrenergic agonists) as nasal decongestants and are contraindicated for severe hypertension. I know from working in a retail pharmacy that pharmacists are a drastically under utilized and extremely knowledgable resource.