Give Your Medicine Cabinet A Makeover


Check expiry dates

At least once a year, check for expired medications and vitamins. Dispose of any expired products (including over-the-counter medications) and prescription medication that is 12 months old or older. Medicine should not be thrown in the garbage or flushed down toilets and drains because it ends up in the environment, untreated and potentially unstable. You can take expired medications to your local Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist who will dispose of them safely.

Check packaging

Any medicine not in its original container should also be properly disposed of. The misuse of medications leads to unnecessary hospital visits and avoidable risks. Removing unknown medication eliminates the possibility that it can be taken in error or get into the hands of a child.

Check labels and ingredients

Do you have any products you no longer need? Or ingredients to which you may be allergic? If so, pass them on to someone who can use them and make room for the things you do need. This is also a great time to clear out duplicates and assess whether you truly need both items.

Storage reboot

People often store medications in the bathroom, but did you know that the moisture, heat and humidity levels may degrade the quality of a prepared medication? It’s best to store medications in dry area such as a hallway closet, away from direct sources of light and safely out of the reach of young children.

Stock up on the basics

Make sure to stock up on basic first aid supplies like bandages, antiseptics and pain relief, along with products to treat cold and flu symptoms such as nasal sprays, vapourizers, hot lemon drinks and lozenges. A thermometer is a must—the latest digital thermometers feature a built-in fever indicator.

The next time you reach into the medicine cabinet, you’ll feel confident knowing that your source of remedies is up-to-date, safe and ready to use

When you start to sneeze or cough, the first thing you probably do is head to your medicine cabinet looking for something that can relieve your symptoms. But side effect warnings, expiration dates and possible drug interactions can make you think twice about what’s in that cabinet.

You may need a medicine cabinet makeover. Here are six ways you can make over your medicine cabinet this winter:

  1. Check expiration dates on both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs. Medicines lose their potency over time, so remove them if expired. Check to see if the medication has changed color, consistency or smell.
  2. Start purchasing single-dose drops whenever possible to avoid contamination, or having the preservatives break down in the medication.
  3. Scan the drugs for warnings about potential risks from certain ingredients. Visit the Food and Drug Administration’s website,, for specific drug information and warnings. Remove any medications that don’t have labels or are not stored in their original containers.
  4. Re-stock your medicine cabinet with essential homeopathic medicines like Boiron’s Oscillococcinum for flu-like symptoms, Coldcalm for cold symptoms and Chestal for coughs. These medicines are safe and don’t cause side effects like drowsiness. They also won’t interact with other medications or mask symptoms that might indicate a more serious condition.
  5. Reorganize the medications in the cabinet so that those you use more frequently are within easy reach. Group together similar medications, and keep an emergency contact information list naming the medications, known drug allergies and other important information on the inside of the cabinet. Here it can be accessed quickly by paramedics and other emergency personnel.
  6. When disposing of unwanted or expired medications, don’t dump them down the toilet, unless the patient information tells you to do so. Instead, mix pills with undesirable matter like kitty litter or coffee grounds before placing in a sealed plastic bag for the trash. Also, remove all personal information from the bottles. Contact your local government to see if the community has a drug take-back program.

“Since you never know when the first sneeze or cough will strike, it pays to be prepared,” says Dr. Bernardo A. Merizalde, former president of the American Institute of Homeopathy and attending physician at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.

“Reviewing the contents of your cabinet and restocking it with safe homeopathic medicines can make it much easier for you and your family when cold and flu-like symptoms appear.”

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